Saxon’s Latest Live LP Shows Why It’s Still One Of Heavy Metal’s Elite Acts

Courtesy:  UDR/Militia Guard Music

Courtesy: UDR/Militia Guard Music

British heavy metal band Saxon released its latest live recording St. George’s DaySacrifice Live in Manchester this past April. The band’s first live release since 2012’s Heavy Metal ThunderLive: Eagles Over Wacken and its ninth live recording overall, this live recording presents a band that is just as strong today as it was in its earliest days. There is plenty for Saxon’s fans to appreciate in this album beginning with the set list itself. While it obviously doesn’t cover every single one of the band’s now twenty (yes, twenty) albums, the concert presented here covers quite a wide swath of the band’s career. The band’s stage presence also plays a role in the overall enjoyment of the concert. Needless to say the band’s impresses in this arena, too. And last but not least is the concert’s audio mix. The audio mix starts out a little choppy. But it improves rather quickly, making the overall concert experience presented here enjoyable. All things considered the only downside to the whole presentation is that Saxon didn’t provide this concert in either a DVD or Blu-ray presentation. Perhaps the band and its label will take that into consideration and release the show’s video side for fans before 2014 winds down. Regardless, of whether or not that happens, it still remains that St. George’s DaySacrifice Live in Manchester is a must hear for any Saxon fan.

The central point of the success behind St. George’s DaySacrifice Live in Manchester is easily its expansive set list. It goes without saying that there’s no way the band could have possibly covered its entire catalogue of now twenty albums within the span of time allotted for this concert. However, the band does cover quite a bit of that catalogue. It goes so far as to go back thirty years to the band’s earliest days and as recently as the band’s latest full length studio album and all points in between throughout the course of the concert. The concert’s full run time barely tops the two hour mark. And every single second of that time is well spent by both the audience in attendance and the band. Much like film great Martin Scorsese can take a two-plus hour movie breeze by, so does Saxon make this concert full so much fuller without leaving audiences feel exhausted at the same time. It’s because of that factor and the show’s set list alongside that the band’s more seasoned fans will enjoy this record just as much as those being introduced to the veteran metal act for the first time.

The combined set list and run time of said concert in St. George’s DaySacrifice Live in Manchester together are collectively a solid foundation for this latest live recording from Saxon. Just as important to the enjoyment of any live performance by any musical act is the stage presence of the given act. In the case of Saxon, front man Biff Byford and company prove to be just as full of life and energy as when the band first performed live decades ago. The band shreds through numbers such as: ‘Rock N Roll Gypsies,’ ‘Crusader,’ and ‘Wheels of Steel’ just to name a few. And even in between songs, the energy is there as Byford interacts with the audience. He tells audiences brief histories of the songs, joking about some of those histories along the way. Audiences even get the chance to decide which songs they want to hear at least at one point in the show. Byford repay the audience’s enthusiasm with one of the best performances to date of ‘And The Bands Played On.’ These are only some examples of how the band’s stage performance in this concert makes the recording so enjoyable for audiences. There are far more examples than can be noted in one sitting. Audiences will get the full impact of that presence when they purchase this recording for themselves. It still isn’t all that makes this recording enjoyable for Saxon’s legions of fans, either. There is still one more factor to consider in the recording’s enjoyment. That factor is the show’s audio mix.

The last but hardly least important factor to consider in the enjoyment of St. George’s DaySacrifice Live in Manchester is the show’s audio mix. One has to think that what must have been an outdoor arena was rather large. That is because of the slight trouble at first in the balance of the recording’s audio mix. Byford’s vocals are muddled early on and covered by his band mates. But luckily, that is rapidly handled with the levels being more equaled as the first half of the first disc progresses. Since it would appear that there is no DVD or Blu-ray presentation to accompany the audio only portion of the concert, it is difficult to figure the size of the venue. One can only assume that the venue’s size must have been relatively large. If that is indeed the case, then those charged with the recording’s final product are to be applauded for the work put in to balance everything and in turn make St. George’s DaySacrifice Live in Manchester one of the best of Saxon’s live recordings to date.

George’s DaySacrifice Live in Manchester is available now in stores and online. That means that fans worldwide can enjoy the band’s live show even if it has already come and gone. Saxon is currently on tour in Europe in support of both this release and Sacrifice, its most recent full length studio effort. The band’s current tour schedule is available online now via the band’s official website, http://www.saxon747.com. All of the latest news and more from Saxon is available online at the band’s official website and its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/saxon. 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.

Marillion’s “A Sunday Night…” Is A Great Listen For Any Night Or Day

Courtesy:  E.A.R. Music/Eagle Records

Courtesy: E.A.R. Music/Eagle Records

Marillion’s new live recording A Sunday Night Above the Rain was released in North America this week.  The double-disc recording is a piece that any fan of the veteran progressive rock band will want to add to their personal music library now that it is available to the masses.  The primary reason that audiences will want to add this new live recording to their personal music library is the band’s performance of its most recent album in its entirety along with a handful of other songs to complement the performance.  The second reason that Marillion’s fans will want to add this recording to their personal music libraries is its total run time.  Between its two discs, ASNATR offers audiences just over two hours of music.  The audio quality of those two-plus hours (technically two hours, two point four minutes) is expert.  All three factors together make Marillion’s new live recording well worth the money for any fan of this well-established band.

The central point of the success of A Sunday Night Above the Rain is the fact that the band’s set list in this show is comprised almost entirely of the band’s hit 2012 album Sounds That Can’t Be Made.  That album’s eight total tracks are spread across the record’s two discs.  They are accompanied by a handful of extremely rare songs from the band.  In the case of Marillion, the use of the term rare is not just thrown around.  Rather only perhaps two of those remaining five songs come directly from the band’s previous releases.  And those songs themselves have very rarely been performed live by Marillion.  The others are even rarer.  This makes the recording’s five remaining performances more than just part of the whole.  They become collectively a bonus in and of themselves.  Though, together with the other eight tracks from Sounds That Can’t Be Made, they become bonus material, too.  And that only serves to make this live recording even more enjoyable.

The songs included in Marillion’s set list are on the surface, great additions to the show.  On a deeper level, the very fact that the band would perform one of its albums in its entirety and do so for a live recording is even more important in itself.  That’s because while not entirely unheard of for a band to perform one of its albums in full, a band of such high regard doing so and for so many years as Marillion is less common.  It helps A Sunday Night Above the Rain stand out and establish its own identity even more.  That in turn makes this an even more special record for Marillion’s fans to add to their own home music libraries. All together, the performance of Sounds That Can’t Be Made alongside the rarer songs equals out to a performance time of just over two hours. To be more precise, it equals out to approximately two hours and two point four minutes. That is a lot of music for audiences to enjoy. And along with the last of this recording’s positives—the audio mix—those two factors and the set list together make ASNATR even more a great listen or Marillion’s fans.

The last factor worth noting in the release of ASNATR is the concert’s audio mix. Every concert venue around the world presents its own challenges when it comes to recording concerts.   Whether it be an American venue or one such as Center Parcs in Port Zealande, where this concert was recorded, balancing audio levels both for those in attendance and for potential home release takes painstaking and expert work. And that work paid off in the case of ASNATR. Neither front man Steve Hogarth’s vocals nor the music of his band mates covers the other at any point. Recording/Mix specialist Michael Hunter deserves his share of applause for maintaining that balance even in the recording’s softer moments. He shows that he can handle every moment from beginning to end. The end result is a recording that will allow listeners to capture so many nuances with each listen. The very fact that not every nuance can be caught in just one listen is in itself a testament to Hunter’s talents. Those talents are the finishing touch to a live recording that is one of this year’s best live CD recordings.

The CD side of ASNATR is available now in stores and online alongside its DVD and Blu-ray presentation. Each can be ordered online direct from Marillion’s website at http://www.marillion.com/shop/. They can also be purchased at the band’s upcoming live dates, the next of which will be Friday and Saturday, August 8th and 9th at the Cropredy Convention in Oxford, UK. The band’s latest tour dates are listed online at the band’s official website and Facebook page, http://www.marillion.com and http://www.facebook.com/MarillionOfficial. Fans can also go to either site or to the band’s Twitter page, http://twitter.com/marilliononline to keep up with the latest news from the band. 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.

Scream Factory, Anchor Bay Announce Bonus Features, Specs For Halloween Box Set

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Scream! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Scream! Factory

Anchor Bay Entertainment and Scream Factory announced Monday the latest chapter on the upcoming box set re-issues of the horror classic Halloween.

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Scream! Factory/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Scream! Factory/Anchor Bay Entertainment

The companies announced Monday, the bonus features and specs for the upcoming Halloween: Complete Collection 15-disc Blu-ray box set. The box set includes: Seven brand new featurettes, three new commentaries, and four new interviews, new transfers and audio specs and much more. The full details on all of those additions are listed below.

Disc 1 – John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978)

Bonus Features:

  • HD transfer supervised and approved by cinematographer Dean Cundey
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Director Of Photography Dean Cundey, Editor Tommy Lee Wallace And The Shape, Nick Castle
  • Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director John Carpenter and Actress Jamie Lee Curtis.
  • “The Night She Came Home” Featurette
  • “On Location: 25 Years Later” Featurette
  • TV Version Footage
  • Television Spots
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV and Radio Spots

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); Dolby TrueHD 7.1; Original 1978 Audio in Dolby TrueHD Mono

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

 

Disc 2 – John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary With Co-Writer/Director John Carpenter, Actress Jamie Lee Curtis and Co-Writer/Producer Debra Hill
  • Featurette: Halloween: A Cut Above The Rest
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV and Radio Spots

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); Dolby Surround 5.1; PCM 5.1; Original 1978 Mono Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

 

Disc 3 – Halloween II (1981)

Theatrical Version

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary with director Rick Rosenthal and actor Leo Rossi (Theatrical version)
  • Audio commentary with stunt co-ordinator/actor Dick Warlock (Theatrical version)
  • “The Nightmare Isn’t Over: The Making Of Halloween II” Featuring Rick Rosenthal, Lance Guest, Dick Warlock, Alan Howarth, Dean Cundey, Leo Rossi and Moore…
  • “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: The Locations of Halloween II” – Host Sean Clark revisits the original shooting locations of the film
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary from director Rick Rosenthal
  • Alternate Ending with Optional Audio Commentary from director Rick Rosenthal
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV and Radio Spots
  • Still Gallery

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD MA 5.1

 

Disc 4 – Halloween II TV Cut (1981) DVD (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)

Television Cut With Added Footage Not Seen In The Theatrical Version

 

Tech Specs:

Standard Definition Full-frame 1.33:1; Dolby Digital Mono

 

Disc 5 – Halloween III: Season of The Witch (1982)

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary with director Tommy Lee Wallace
  • “Stand Alone: The Making Of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch” featuring Tommy Lee Wallace, Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dick Warlock, Dean Cundey and more
  • “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds” – Revisiting the original shooting locations
  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spots

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD MA 5.1; Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0

 

Disc 6Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary with Actors Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris
  • Audio Commentary with Director Dwight H. Little and Author Justin Beahm
  • Theatrical Trailer

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1); Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

 

Disc 7 — Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary with Actor Don Shanks and Jeffrey Landman
  • Audio Commentary with Director Dominique Othenin-Girard and Actors Danielle Harris And Jeffrey Landman
  • Halloween 5: On The Set
  • Halloween 5: Original Promo
  • Theatrical Trailer

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1); Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

 

Disc 8 — Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Theatrical Cut

Bonus Features:

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1); Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English

 

Disc 9 – Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Producer’s Cut (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)

Bonus Features:

  • NEW High Definition Master from the original inter-negative
  • NEW Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Daniel Farrands and Composer Alan Howarth (Producer’s Cut)
  • NEW “Jamie’s Story” – An Interview With The Original “Jamie” Actress Danielle Harris
  • NEW “The Cursed ‘Curse’” – An Interview With Producers Malek Akkad And Paul Freeman
  • NEW “Acting Scared “– A Look At The Film’s Cast With Actresses Mariah O’Brien And J.C. Brandy
  • NEW “The Shape Of Things” – A Look At Michael Myers’ Murders And Mayhem With Special Make-Up Effects Artists John Carl Buechler And Brad Hardin And Actor George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers)
  • NEW “Haddonfield’s Horrors” – The Sights of Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers With Director of Photography Billy Dickson And Production Designer Brad Ryman And Director of Photography (Additional Scenes) Thomas Callaway
  • NEW “Full Circle” – An Interview With Composer Alan Howarth
  • NEW Cast And Crew Tribute to Donald Pleasance
  • Archival Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Behind-The-Scenes Footage (approx. 30 Minutes)
  • Alternate And Deleted Scenes (Not Present In Either Cut Of The Film)
  • Teaser Trailer: Halloween 666: The Origin Of Michael Myers

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1:78:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English

 

Disc 10 — Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Bonus Features:

  • Presented in the correct 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
  • NEW Commentary With Director Steve Miner And Jamie Lee Curtis, Moderated By Sean Clark
  • NEW “The Making of Halloween H20” Featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Nancy Stephens, Adam Hann-Byrd, Tom Kane, Editor Patrick Lussier, Producer Malek Akkad, Producer Paul Freeman, Composer John Ottman, Chris Durand (Michael Myers), Writer Robert Zappia, Stunt Co-Ordinator Donna Keegan, Make-Up Brad Hardin And Cinematographer Daryn Okada
  • Vintage Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Theatrical Trailer

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

 

Disc 11 — Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary With Director Rick Rosenthal And Editor Robert A. Ferretti
  • Alternate Endings
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Featurette: “Head Cam”
  • Storyboard Analysis
  • Set Tour With Production Designer Troy Hansen
  • Set Interview With Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Vintage Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Home Video TV Spots

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English

 

Disc 12 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)

Bonus Features:

  • Unrated Director’s Cut With Audio Commentary By Writer/Director Rob Zombie
  • Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary
  • Alternate Ending With Optional Commentary
  • Bloopers
  • Featurette: “The Many Faces Of Michael Myers”
  • Re-Imagining Halloween
  • Meet The Cast
  • Casting Sessions
  • Scout Taylor-Compton Screen Test
  • Theatrical Trailer

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, Spanish

 

Disc 13 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007) Bonus Disc (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)

Bonus Features:

  • Documentary: “Michael Lives: The Making of Halloween (4 ½ hours)

 

Tech Specs:

Dolby Stereo

Subtitles: English

 

Disc 14 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 (2009)

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Rob Zombie
  • Deleted And Alternate Scenes
  • Audition Footage
  • Make-Up Test Footage
  • Blooper Reel
  • Captain Clegg And The Night Creatures Music Videos
  • Uncle Seymour Coffins’ Stand-Up Routines

 

Tech Specs:

1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1;

Subtitles: English

 

Disc 15 – Bonus Features (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)

  • John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN – The Extended Version (In HD – TV Inserts Are In Standard Definition)
  • Interview with Moustapha Akkad about origin of HALLOWEEN
  • Featurette: HALLOWEEN UNMASKED 2000

·         Featurette: The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4: FINAL CUT

  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4 Featuring Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Kathleen Kinmont, Beau Starr, Raymond O’Connor, Erik Preston and Sasha Jensen, Stuntmen Tom Morga (Michael Myers) And George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers), Composer Alan Howarth, Writer Alan B. McElroy, Producers Malek Akkad And Paul Freeman, Special Make-Up Effects Artists John Carl Buechler And Ken Horn
  • Featurette: Inside HALLOWEEN 5
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 5 Featuring Interviews With Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Kaplan, Jeffrey Landman, Jonathan Chapin, Frankie Como, Tamara Glynn, Matthew Walker, Don Shanks (Michael Myers), Producer Malek Akkad, Line Producer Rick Nathanson And Composer Alan Howarth
  • NEW Interview With Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Burman On HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
  • HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH Radio Spots
  • TV Spots – HALLOWEEN 4, HALLOWEEN 5, HALLOWEEN (2007) and HALLOWEEN II (2009)
  • Photo Galleries — HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN 4 and HALLOWEEN 5

Tech Specs:

1080p, 520p Full Frame, Anamorphic Widescreen 1:85:1, 2.35:1;

DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Stereo, Mono

 

Halloween: The Complete Collection will be available on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, September 23rd. According to Shout! Factory’s online store website, this box set has already sold out as only 500 copies were available. It will be available primarily in stores on September 23rd. More information on this and other releases from Scream Factory and Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online now at http://www.screamfactoryDVD.com, http://www.facebook.com/screafactoryDVD, http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay, and http://www.anchorbayent.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Yes, Eagle Rock Partner To Release New Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Legendary progressive rock band Yes will release a brand new live recording this fall.

Songs From Tsongas The 35th Anniversary Concert will be released via Eagle Rock Entertainment Tuesday, September 23rd. The recording will be released in a variety of presentations including: Blu-ray, double-disc DVD, triple-disc CD, and digital formats. This upcoming recording is a truly special recording for the band’s fans. That is because the special edition release contains not one but two concerts. Both shows were recorded during the band’s 35th Anniversary tour in 2004. The tour in question was the last to feature Yes’ classic lineup of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, and Alan White. The secondary concert included features seventy minutes of never-before-released footage from Lugano.

The concert’s DVD presentation contains the band’s entire concert from the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, MA. Previously this concert had been spread across two discs. The career-spanning performance includes an extensive acoustic set which encompasses the concert’s eleventh through eighteenth songs. It also includes some songs that the band had very rarely performed live in previous live engagements. The concert is also presented in its entirety in its triple-disc CD format.

The bonus second disc in the DVD presentation takes audiences to the band’s performance at Estival in Lugano, Switzerland. The crowd in attendance proved that not even the rain would stop it from seeing Yes perform as audiences will see for themselves. The band’s performance at this venue includes full on rock versions of the acoustic songs from the Tsongas Arena show as well as an acoustic stage. As an added bonus, fans area also treated to a performance of the song ‘Ritual,’ which was recorded during the band’s performance at the Tsongas Arena and an interview with legendary designer and Yes collaborator Roger Dean. Dean was the man responsible for creating the stage for Yes’ concerts on its 35th Anniversary tour.

The track listing for the Blu-ray, Special Edition double-disc DVD and triple-disc CD presentation of Yes’ Songs from Tsongas The 35th Anniversary Concert is listed below.

TRACK LISTING:

Special Edition DVD, Blu-ray:

Disc 1 – Songs From Tsongas

1) Intro/Firebird Suite

2) Going For The One

3) Sweet Dreams

4) Your Move / All Good People

5) Mind Drive Parts 1 & 2

6) South Side Of The Sky

7) Turn Of The Century

8) My Eyes

9) Mind Drive Part 3

10) Yours Is No Disgrace

11) The Meeting (Piano Solo)

12) Long Distance Runaround

13) Wonderous Stories

14) Time Is Time

15) Roundabout

16) Show Me

17) Owner Of A Lonely Heart

18) Second Initial (Guitar Solo)

19) Rhythm Of Love

20) And You And I

21) Every Little Thing

22) Starship Trooper

Disc 2 – Live In Lugano

1) Intro/Firebird Suite

2) Going For The One

3) Sweet Dreams

4) Your Move / All Good People

5) Long Distance Runaround

6) The Fish

7) Owner Of A Lonely Heart

8) And You And I

9) Starship Trooper

10) Roundabout

3CD:

Disc One:

1) Intro / Firebird Suite

2) Going For The One

3) Sweet Dreams

4) Your Move/All Good People

5) Mind Drive Parts 1 & 2

6) South Side Of The Sky

7) Turn Of The Century

8) My Eyes

9) Mind Drive Part 3

10) Yours Is No Disgrace

Disc Two:

1) The Meeting (piano solo)

2) Long Distance Runaround

3) Wonderous Stories

4) Time Is Time

5) Roundabout

6) Show Me

7) Owner Of A Lonely Heart

8) Second Initial (guitar solo)

9) Rhythm Of Love

Disc Three:

1) And You And I

2) Ritual

3) Every Little Thing

4) Starship Trooper

 The special edition double-disc DVD will retail for SRP of $24.98 while the Blu-ray will retail for SRP of $19.98. No price has been announced yet for the triple-disc CD set. Updates on that, and all of the latest entertainment news and reviews is available online at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

All of the latest news and more from Yes is available online via the band’s official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/yestheband and the band’s official website, http://yesworld.com.

Rolling Stones’ “Clearly Classic” Vinyls Are Among 2014′s Best Re-Issues

Courtesy:  ABKCO

Courtesy: ABKCO

Early this Spring, ABKCO re-issued to audiences around the world three more of The Rolling Stones’ most beloved albums.  The albums in question are: Get Yer Ya-Yas Out: The Rolling Stones in Concert, 12 X 5, and the band’s hits collection Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2).  All three titles were re-issued as part of ABKCO’s ongoing “Clearly Classic” series.  And for audiences that prefer the vintage sound of vinyl to the more spit-shined sound of music on a CD or an MP3, these three latest re-issues are the perfect fit.  That sound is only part of what audiences will appreciate in these latest re-issues.  That they have been re-issued with their original artwork makes each vinyl even more enjoyable for fans of The Rolling Stones.  Last but definitely not least of all, each of these re-issues can be purchased by themselves or collectively depending on whether or not one already owns the original vinyls.  All three factors together make these vinyls the year’s top three music re-issues of 2014.

The central point in the enjoyment of ABKCO’s recently re-issued Rolling Stones titles is of course its sound. And it goes without saying that the sound on these re-issues could not be better. The sound is just as wonderful as it was in the vinyls’ original releases.  Only in the case of these “Clearly Classic” re-issues, it actually sounds even better as if it was on CD.  It sounds especially impressive on the band’s live release Get Yer Ya-Yas Out: The Rolling Stones in Concert.  Considering how many years ago that concert was originally recorded, it’s incredible that it sounds as good today as it did then.  Those charged with re-mastering the sound on that concert recording or this new re-issue are to be applauded for their efforts.  Much the same can be said of the sound on both 12 X 5 and Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2).  In the case of the songs on the latter of that pair, they have been added to nearly every one of the Stones’ many hits collections released over the years.  So it’s nice to hear them in one of their earlier hits collections.  There’s just a different quality that can’t be fully put into words.  It is something that must be heard first hand to be fully appreciated.

Audiences will appreciate the sound of the songs on these three latest Rolling Stones re-issues.  The sound on all three vinyls is just as impressive as that of the songs in their CD re-issues. Audiences will also appreciate in these re-issues the fact that they have been presented with their original artwork. There are so many labels out there today that try to revamp albums all the way down to their cover art as a means to market the albums. ABKCO didn’t take that route with these re-issues. It proves once more just how much the company wanted to honor both the historical significance of the albums and the band itself. Even more, it also shows a certain level of respect for the audiences, too. Older audiences will appreciate this as it will add to the sense of nostalgia established through the albums’ re-issues. Younger audiences that might be hearing these releases for the first time will appreciate them more for their historical significance. A comparison of such artwork to that of so many of today’s albums shows a vast stylistic difference. Unlike so many of today’s releases, there is nothing sexy or controversial about these releases’ artwork. That means that the attention will largely be on the music. The end result is a deeper appreciation for music that is plain and simple, real.

The transfer of the Rolling Stones’ original albums from CD back to vinyl on these re-issues is impressive to say the least. The sound quality is just as wonderful as ever. The use of the releases’ original artwork makes the overall listening experience even more enjoyable whether one is new to the world of The Rolling Stones or a far more seasoned fan. There is still one last aspect of these re-issues worth noting in their success. That final aspect in the success of these albums is the ease of purchasing them. They can each be purchased now via Amazon. And all three albums are below the thirty-dollar mark. So they are also affordable for audiences. Considering that many markets lack an indie store where fans could potentially pick up these vinyl re-issues, this ease of ordering becomes an even more important aspect to their overall enjoyment and success. Get Yer Ya-Yas Out can be ordered directly via Amazon at http://smarturl.it/YaYasLP, while 12 X 5 and Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) can be ordered at http://smarturl.it/12x5LP and http://smarturl.it/TTPDVinyl respectively. That cost effectiveness and ease of ordering along with the releases’ artwork and quality sound transfer back to vinyl each partners together in the overall presentation of these releases to make them absolute must haves for any true-blooded Rolling Stones fan. It also makes them three of this year’s top new re-issues.

More information on The Rolling Stones is available online at http://www.facebook.com/therollingstones,http://www.rollingstones.com and http://twitter.com/rollingstones.To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Jefferson Grizzard’s Sophmore LP Another Solid “Modern Classic Rock” Record

Courtesy:  Back Porch Syndicate Records

Courtesy: Back Porch Syndicate Records

Singer/songwriter Jefferson Grizzard has released in his sophomore album Learning How To Lie a record that any fan of the “modern classic rock” genre will appreciate. The dozen tracks that make up his latest album instantly conjure thoughts of Bob Seeger, Joe Cocker, George Thorogood, and even Bruce Springsteen to a lesser extent. That’s thanks to the combination of his own vocal style set alongside From social commentary of sorts to songs of lost love and what would seem to be personal experiences, the songs on this album cover any number of topics. And the songs’ companion musical side serves to make each one all the better. One of the best examples of that social commentary comes in the form of the album’s title. The mournful yet powerful ballad ‘Lorelei’ is one of the best songs centered on a broken relationship. And ‘New Location’ comes across as a song that illustrates a personal experience. It would be interesting to hear from Grizzard himself on this infectious piece. Of course it and the other noted songs are but part of what makes Learning How To Lie a fit for any “modern classic rock” fan. There are nine other songs not noted here from which audiences will be able to choose their favorite(s). In hearing those other songs, those same listeners will agree that whether it be their first time hearing Grizzard’s music or not, this album is a solid work from start to finish.

One of the best examples of what makes Jefferson Grizzard’s latest record such a joy is its title track, which comes roughly halfway through the album. Grizzard writes in this bluesy rocker, “Lovers spasm up the stairs/Through cries of pleasure and despair/The pauper and the millionaire/Their fates are slowly fusing/Golems hide ‘neath plastic shields/Throw tear gas full of sex appeal/While riots make commercial reels/The cobbler slays the general/And the planet keeps on turning.” These musings come across as personal thoughts on the state of the world around us. “While riots make commercial reels” could be referencing the spots made by news agencies that tease the daily nightly newscasts. More often than not, those spots tend to feature violent stories such as riots. One look at the nightly newscasts across the “Big 4” networks proves that. He writes also that “Golems hide ‘neath plastic shields.” Anyone with any knowledge of the Lord of the Rings trilogy will get this reference. It would seem that he’s speaking metaphorically, saying that something ugly lies beneath a weak façade. Of course this could be wrong being that it is just this critic’s own interpretation. Regardless, the fact that Grizzard could create such thoughts (and likely discussions) centered on this song just goes to prove its importance on this record. Audiences can make their own decisions when they check out the song’s official video online via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9cEtilwnn4.

‘Learning How To Lie’ is a prime example of why “modern classic rock” fans will appreciate and enjoy Jefferson Grizzard’s sophomore CD by the same name. It’s just one of so many songs on the record that boasts a solid groove sure to have audiences singing along. And its seeming social commentary only serves to make it even more enjoyable. On the exact opposite side of that musical coin, Grizzard exhibits his softer side on the ballad of lost love, ‘Lorelei.’ The words themselves are only part of what makes this song so hard hitting. The addition of gentle piano runs, alongside a chorus backing Grizzard and his band mates, and an orchestral arrangement make this song a solid tearjerker. Grizzard sings overtop of those additions, “Hear the engine roar/She’s got me running/From my own sweet home/She’s got me feeling all alone/With shots of shattered bones/That leave me stranded/Crash landed in a field/Where her voice, it never yields/You’ve got centuries to fill/With all these words you’ve crafted.” He paints a picture of a relationship that did not exactly end well. Again, with the addition of the orchestration and choir, it becomes all the more impactful for any listener.

Both ‘Learning How To Lie’ and ‘Lorelei’ are excellent examples of what Grizzard offers audiences on his latest full length release. If they aren’t enough for listeners to give this album a chance, then ‘New Location’ most definitely will be enough. Grizzard gets pretty descriptive here, writing about a person living in a situation that is less than even substandard for lack of better wording. He writes in this song, “All my books are burning/The carpet’s stained with tar/There’s Raptors rippin’ all the second strings off my guitars/Outside on my deck/The dogs are howlin’ at the moon/Jackie’s in the basement/Puttin’ fire to a spoon/I aint tryin’ to make no accusations/But I can’t lie/I need a new location.” The imagery only gets more disturbing from here. And it’s no better early on. That’s not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, the picture that he and his fellow musicians paint with their combination of lyrics and music make this one of the absolute highest of points. Audiences can download that song, the others noted here or any of the album’s other tracks now online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Learning-How-Explicit-Jefferson-Grizzard/dp/B00JRE0R6M/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1405712208&sr=1-2&keywords=jefferson+grizzard.

Jefferson Grizzard currently has no tour dates scheduled. However, after downloading the songs from his new album, audiences can keep up to date with all of the latest tour updates, news and more online at http://jeffersongrizzard.com and http://www.facebook.com/jeffersongrizzard. 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.

Wynonna To Appear On NBC’s Hollywood Game Night Thursday Night

Courtesy:  Mitch Schneider Organization

Courtesy: Mitch Schneider Organization

Country music superstar Wynonna will be on TV tomorrow night.

Wynonna Judd will appear tomorrow night at 8pm ET/7PM CT on NBC’s hit celebrity game show Hollywood Game Night. She will be joined by fellow celebrities Johnny Weir, Scott Foley, Leah Remini, Krysten Ritter, and Nick Swardson on tomorrow night’s episode. She and her team won’t be the only ones cying for a win tomorrow night. Audiences will actually have the chance to win a free pair of shoes from Wynonna’s own “Got Soul” line during tomorrow night’s episode. Here’s how: Wynonna and the show’s people will tweet out a question about the episode. Those that answer the question correctly and tag both @Wynonna and @NBCGameNight with the hashtag #WynonnaGame Night will have the chance to win a free pair of shoes. One lucky winner will be chosen this Friday morning. More details on tomorrow night’s contest are available online at http://www.wynonna.com.

Tomorrow night’s appearance on NBC isn’t the only event on Wynonna’s very busy schedule. She is also scheduled to perform the National Anthem Sunday August 3rd at Dodger Stadium before the currently NL West Division leading Dodgers host the Chicago Cubs. And the night before her performance, Wynonna will hold a free concert in Los Angeles as part of the “Country in the City” concert series. The concert is an all-ages show and is presented by KCRW 89.9 FM. The concert series serves to celebrate the Annenberg Space for Photography’s “Country: Portraits of an American Sound” exhibit. The exhibit is currently running and will run through September 28th. Ticket information for all of Wynonna’s shows is available online at http://www.wynonna.com/the-road.html. Wynonna’s current tour schedule is listed below.

Catch WYNONNA & The Big Noise out on the road this summer:

Tue

7/15 Central Point, OR Jackson County Fair
Wed 7/16 Livermore, CA Wente Vineyards
Fri 7/18 Tacoma, WA Emerald Queen Casino
Sat 7/26 Calgary, AB Canada Grey Eagle Resort & Casino
Sat 8/2 Los Angeles, CA Annenberg Space for Photography
Fri 8/8 Rock Hill, SC Old Town Amphitheater
Sat 8/9 Waco, GA Black Tie & Boots Event – Murphy Campus
Thu 8/14 Shreveport, LA Shreveport Municipal Auditorium
Fri 8/15 Robinsonville, MS Horseshoe Casino
Tue 8/26 Scottsdale, AZ Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Thu 8/28 Redding, CA Win-River Casino
Fri 8/29 Reno, NV Atlantis Casino Resort Spa
Sat 8/30 West Wendover, NV Peppermill Concert Hall
Sun 8/31 Copper Mountain, CO Copper County Festival

 

To top off everything that Wynonna is currently doing, she and her husband , producer/drummer Cactus Moser, are working on material for her eighth full length studio release. That album is due out in 2015 on Curb Records. She recently sat down with Rolling Stone for an interview and explained what fans can expect from the album. “It’s vintage yet modern,” she says. “It’s hard to explain. A lot of the things I did I’m drawing from, yet the new sound is so simple and so pure. I’m playing instruments on stage that I started playing when I was nine. I’ve never done that in my whole career. So it’s a time of going back to the well and starting over.” The complete interview can be read online now at http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/wynonna-gets-raw-primal-on-life-changing-new-album-20140709.

More information on Wynonna’s tour, album and more is available online at http://www.wynonna.com, http://www.facebook.com/wynonnajudd, and http://twitter.com/WynonnaMusic. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Lucky Day Could Be Stacey Peasley’s Lucky Album

Courtesy:  The Stacey Peasley Band

Courtesy: The Stacey Peasley Band

Independent children’s entertainer Stacey Peasley recently released her sophomore album.  The aptly titled Lucky Day could be good luck for Peasley as it has proven her potential as a viable commodity in the world of “kindie-rock.”  The songs on this album—Peasley’s second full length release—offers plenty of material for listeners of all ages.  And it all starts with the album’s opener ‘Little Soccer Player.’  While not even two minutes in length, the song paints a picture so vivid that it just begs for a music video.  The album’s midway point, ‘Broken Record’ is a song that speaks both to children and adults equally.  And the homage to vinyl records by guest star Mista Cookie Jar adds a certain extra touch to the song that parents especially will enjoy.  Being that most of the country is caught in the grips of the summer heat, the album’s closer ‘Summer Day’ is just as much a welcome addition to Lucky Day as ‘Broken Record’ and ‘Little Soccer Player.’  These three songs are but samples of what makes Lucky Day a worthwhile listen for parents and children alike.  The album’s remaining songs not noted here each have their own enjoyment.  And families will find their own songs to enjoy when they order Lucky Day for themselves.  They will find in listening to this album that Lucky Day will make their day.

The timing of Lucky Day’s release could not have been any better for this independent “kindie-rock” band.  This is especially the case considering the album’s opener.  The 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament just finished up.  But thanks to this album’s opener, parents everywhere can keep a young person’s love of and interest in soccer alive even with the media hype dying down for the next four years.  The song paints a wonderfully vivid picture of a parent on the sidelines of a youth soccer game cheering on his or her child.  That the parent in question could be a father or mother makes the song even better.  The parent sings to the child, “Little soccer player/In the morning sun/Time for early wake-ups/The season has begun/Little soccer player/See you on the field/Focused and determined/Skills will be revealed/And all the mommies/Have their coffee/They cheer really loud/And all the daddies clap so hard/Cause they are really proud to see you run so fast/Take a shot/Make a pass/Give it all you’ve got.’  The parent goes on to sing about the child practicing so proudly, his sister cheering, too on the sidelines.  As the song nears its end, the band gradually increases the song’s tempo until it finally reaches its ultimate climax.  The interesting thing is that on one hand, that closing could be just as easily left in the air as it could be solidified.  The picture is so vivid that it makes perfect fodder for a music video.  That increased pace in the song’s final moments would be the young soccer player running to the goal in preparation of kicking the ball.  That combination of music and lyrics in this piece work together to make ‘Little Soccer Player’ the perfect opener for Lucky Day and the perfect introduction for anyone that might be new to The Stacey Peasley Band’s music.

‘Little Soccer Player’ is a wonderful opener for Stacey Peasley’s new album and an equally impressive first impression for those that might be new to her music.  It isn’t all the album’s only high point, either.  Just as enjoy able is ‘Broken Record (ft.Mista Cookie Jar).’  Whereas ‘Little Soccer Player’ was sung from the vantage point of the parent, this song is sung from the vantage point of the child.  The child sings about his or her parent sounding like a broken record as said figure tries to get the child to brush her hair, to stay in her chair at dinner, why she won’t eat her macaroni and cheese with utensils and more.  This could very well be the wrong interpretation, but the tone of the music and lyrics together seems to hint at the gap in understanding of responsibility between parents and children in this case.  The young child has almost a frustrated tone as she sings of her father’s request, “He asks me once/He asks me twice/And by the third time/He doesn’t seem so nice/Cause it feels just like a broken record/Asking the same thing/Over and over.”  Guest star Mista Cookie Jar’s addition to the song makes it even more enjoyable for listeners.  He sings to his younger listeners that they need to give their parents a break, which parents will most definitely appreciate.  He adds in a little history lesson on the different forms of music presentation, too.  He raps over the track, “So what’s a broken record/Before you ask that/You’ve gotta ask/What’s a record/Way before the invent of MP3s/YouTube/And even before CDs/They made a big brown disc/Made outta wax/Put the needle on the track/And play music back/From the boom/To the bap/Motown/to even rap/Classical/rock/Folk/Pop/Funk/Hip-hop to Jazz/And when the record gets fresh/It gets wicky wicky wack/Cause some sound was straight played/Over and over/Make you lose composure for the record/This defines a broken record/Now that you know/Give your mom and dad a break/You heard?”  Mista Cookie Jar’s explanation and tie in to his brief history of vinyl easily reach both parents and their children alike.  And alongside Peasley’s own story of the gap between parents and children, it paints a picture just as vivid as that painted in the album’s opener.  It makes the album in whole all the more enjoyable, too.
Both ‘Broken Record’ and ‘Little Soccer Player’ are excellent examples of why Stacey Peasley and company are ready to be one of the next big names in “kindie-rock.”  There is at least one more song on the band’s album that serves as an example why every label and listener should check out this record.  That song is the album’s closer ‘Summer Day.’  Considering that the country is in the grips of the dog days of summer, this celebratory song is a perfect fit for the band’s new album.  As with ‘Broken Record,’ this song is sung from the vantage point of the child.  The child (and other children) sing of going to the beach to get through the summer.  They sing, “It’s summer day/Going to the beach/We’re gonna play/In the sand and sun/Summer day/swimming in the ocean/With our friends/Gonna have a ball.  As with the songs previously noted here and those not mentioned, Peasley and her band mates have painted one more wonderfully vivid musical picture to accompany a song that in itself will have listeners of every age singing along happily.

Stacey Peasley exhibits so much talent throughout the course of this album’s ten total songs.  From painting near perfect musical pictures to exhibiting a full understanding of the effect of dynamics, Peasley has collectively crafted an album that could very well be the album that really breaks her in the “kindie-rock community.”  Lucky Day is available now.  It can be ordered direct from the band’s official website at http://www.staceypeasley.com/.  Fans can also check out Stacey Peasley’s official Facebook page for her latest news and more at http://www.facebook.com/pages/-The-Stacey-Peasley-Band/60359963730.  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.

Tirico, Others Talk Golf Ahead Of PGA Open Championship

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN will carry full coverage of golf’s oldest major next week. In anticipation of next week’s coverage (Thursday, July 17th – Sunday, July 20th), ESPN VP of Production Mike McQuade joined host Mike Tirico and ESPN golf analysts Andy North, Curtis Strange, and Paul Azinger for a conference call with members of the media. The group discusses their own memories of past Open Championships, fan devotion to the game and so much more through their conference call. The following is the full transcript of their discussion with the media. More information on ESPN’s coverage of the Open Championship is available online at http://espn.go.com/golf.

MIKE McQUADE:  This is the one event that we produce, first of all, that lasts all day every day, and it is an extraordinary effort for our group.  We are fortunate that we are able to get a great group of people together from all different facets of production to come together for this one week.  I like to call it the all‑star team of not only production but of also on‑air hosts, from Scott Van Pelt to Sean McDonough to Mike Tirico, and then a great group of analysts that we have.

I think it’s an extraordinary accomplishment that each and every year we’re able to put on such a big show for viewers.  As usual, we are excited about doing it.

This year is no different.  Coverage this year will be similar to what you’ve seen in years past with an extra emphasis this year placed on our camera positions and camera locations.  Trying to capture more x‑motion, if you will, slow motion, replays and images, as well as continue our technology with the flight of the ball and the distance of the ball and the distance the balls can roll, something that we’ve dabbled with in the past that we’re continuing to expand on.

Beyond that, I think one of the things we’re trying to do is trying to tell the stories of folks that are not as familiar to the viewers back home, whether it’s the forklift driver who lives a half hour from the golf course who qualified, or it’s Rory McIlroy trying to make his return to form.  I think we’ll have a good deal of stories to go on.

MIKE TIRICO:  This is my 18th year of doing the Open Championship, and it’s the second time that I am coming right off the World Cup and going right over there.  It’s a little bit tighter travel for me this year.  I’ll be staying for the World Cup final and host that on Sunday and then headed with some bizarre connections to get to Liverpool hopefully by Tuesday and get ready for the event Thursday.

It’s a phenomenal event, and I’d echo what Mike said.  We don’t do this together for 20 weeks a year, but we bring the band together for one week, and we kind of know all the songs that we play together.  Having worked individually with everyone in this group in a variety of roles and in a variety of places, it’s a selfless, talented, smart group, and they really help us bring American golf fans.

I think it’s something to look forward to.  I know every time that I travel somewhere and we talk about the Open Championship, fans talk about their ritual, whether they get up in the middle of the night, they stay up late on the West Coast, they play their golf on Sunday morning and then make sure that they’re around their 19th hole to watch the last couple of hours of The Open.  It’s the oldest championship in the sport.  We take great pride in being a part of it, and cannot wait to see who will hold the Claret Jug this year, and maybe it’ll be another guy in his 40s, as it has been the last three years.

CURTIS STRANGE:  Well, first off, I’m going to be happy to get into a little cooler weather.  I don’t know which is hotter, Oklahoma City or Manaus in Brazil.  I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been fortunate to be involved in TV for a while now, since 1997, and I look forward to the Open Championship.  Granted, we look forward to the U.S. Open, there’s no doubt, because it’s our national championship, but the Open Championship is our production, and it’s our tournament.  As Mike said, we take great pride in putting on the show, and we work very hard at it, and I think we do a good job.

It’s something we all look forward to very, very much.  It’s been on our radar screen for a good month now, and as we get into our TV segment, part of the summer, and it’s really, really fun from an analyst’s point of view, and I think my two colleagues would say the same thing, that it’s such a fun tournament to bring back to America because it is different.  We have the elements of weather, conditions, links golf, all of the above, and to bring that back to our viewers back home at such an early hour in the morning, it’s great to lay in bed and watch Open Championship golf, it’s fun to do.  It’s a lot of things to talk about.  It’s different players to talk about, and there’s an incredible amount of story lines every time we do it, and that’s part of our preparation.

But we really enjoy doing it and look forward to doing it.

PAUL AZINGER:  Hi, everyone.  I’m excited.  Curtis hit the nail on the head.  There are a lot of story lines and probably none as appealing or attractive as the Tiger Woods story line coming back to play again for the second time since back surgery.

This is a Ryder Cup year.  There’s been a lot of questions asked of Tom Watson, and by the way, Andy North, who’s on our broadcast team is one of Tom Watson’s assistants.  A lot of speculation circling around whether or not Tiger will be a pick.  Every other year we get this story line.  The British Open will be double value in points.  Mickelson is not on the team yet, either.  There are a lot of story lines.

I was at Hoylake right after the U.S. Open.  I went over there to do an outing, and it was lush and green, a different Hoylake than what we saw in 2006 when Tiger won.

But they told me while I was over there that it was lush and green on the Sunday of the U.S. Open the last time, and it just dried out and baked out, so we’ll see what the golf course has in store.  Often times the golf course is much the story and the conditions, and I think that’s what makes the Open Championship so appealing, and the uniqueness of links golf is another thing that our network has been able to bring to the American viewer.

I love the ‑‑ we get to see for the first time when someone does a read, like when we had Mother Nature several years ago doing the read, don’t make Mother Nature mad or whatever.  We don’t get to see any of that until we come on air, so as analysts we actually look forward to seeing what we’ve come up with next.

I’m looking forward to the event.  I can’t wait to get there.  I have butterflies of anticipation waiting to see what Tiger and Phil can do, and again, like Mike said, who will hold the Claret Jug at the end of the week.

ANDY NORTH:  Well, I’d pick up what Paul was saying, that it was a very lush spring.  There’s a lot of that undergrowth and that wispy rough that we always see, but there’s a really good undergrowth in it, so that will be thick, but it has dried up dramatically the last two or three weeks.

Royal Birkdale was really lush two weeks ago, and it’s fast now.  In talking to some R&A folks, they are very happy where the golf course is right now at Hoylake, that it’s firmed up, it’s gotten faster.  I think by the end of next week, we will see a golf course that’s going to be very firm and very fast.  Maybe not what we saw last year at Muirfield where it was almost out of control it was so fast, but it’s a great championship, and we really look forward to it, and we take a lot of pride in bringing a different kind of golf back to America.

As Paul mentioned, there’s so many stories, and we’re going to do our best to get that out in front of the public.

Q.  We’ll get right to the Tiger question.  What do you expect from him coming off his performance at Congressional where he kind of had short game problems and just the whole back surgery issue?  What do you expect from him next week?

PAUL AZINGER:  Yeah, I think Tiger is always going to be compared to Jack, and there’s a big difference in where these two players are at this age, or were, at the age of 38.  I think one of the big differences that’s very rarely articulated is the fact that while Tiger in his dominance always, for whatever reason, was in this quest to get better, I don’t remember Jack ever saying that.  Nicklaus always was ‑‑ I mean, Jack might have made some tweaks and twerks here and there, minor tweaks and twerks, but Tiger has made astronomical changes in a quest to get better, and as a result Tiger has actually gotten a little bit worse.  I think we can all pretty much see that.

I think where Tiger has made his mistake is he’s dabbled with the fingerprints of his golf swing, not necessarily the fundamentals.  Tiger remains fundamentally fairly sound in his lower body, but the changes ‑‑ I think he’s probably the only person that’s ever played well who’s looked radically different throughout his career.  Even the layman golfer can see the difference in Tiger Woods’ golf swing.  So that’s one thing.

And Tiger’s quest to get better, I think he’s actually gotten a little bit worse.  Jack never had the severity of injuries, the career‑threatening injuries that Tigers has had, and now that’s the big question.  To speculate on what do we expect out of Tiger Woods at this point, I think, shoot, we don’t know either.  How fit is he?  How much is he still dabbling with changing what is so obvious to the eye that are just unique to the individual?  I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.

But I think that most golfers have made the same mistakes in some weird way about changing their golf swing, about changing fingerprints, if you will, for fundamentals, and I think Tiger has done that to his detriment, and Jack never made those mistakes.  Jack understood that if he could stay the same, he would still dominate.  Tiger didn’t need to get better.  He just didn’t need to get worse.  He needed to stay the same and he could still dominate, and in his quest to get better, it’s kind of backfired on him.

CURTIS STRANGE:  Yeah, I kind of tend to agree with everything Paul says.  I’ll go back to the basic question of what do we expect over there.  I think it will be very difficult to expect a lot of him.  A couple things:  One, he’s had back surgery.  He says he’s pain‑free, which it looks like he is, but your body doesn’t recover that quickly, so even though he’s pain‑free, he’s not 100 percent.  Can’t be 100 percent golf‑wise because of conditioning.  He hasn’t played but one tournament.  So when you look at it like that, how do you expect your body to swing and be as accurate and consistent as it is when you’re doing it every day and you’re perfectly healthy?  That’s number one.

Before he had the back surgery, he didn’t play well.  Now, some of that was from the injury, but he really didn’t play very well at all.  I don’t have the stats right in front of me, but he was at the bottom of the list in driving accuracy, greens in regulation and putting, the bottom of the Tour.

Again, you have to take that with a grain of salt because he was injured a little bit, but he just didn’t play well.  He hasn’t played well.  We haven’t seen Tiger really, really play well in a while now, so back injury, not playing well, hasn’t played any competitive golf in over three months now, pushing four months, it’s hard to expect anything out of anybody, and I don’t expect him to be ‑‑ I hope he makes the cut.  I hope he hits solid shots.  He hope he progresses.  But I don’t think you could ever expect him to be on the first page of the leaderboard come the weekend.  And that’s just from a player common sense.  That’s talking about the great Tiger Woods.  If it was Paul, Andy or I, normal people, I’m not even sure we would go over there.

ANDY NORTH:  Yeah, I look at this maybe a little bit different than Curtis in the fact that I thought that he went and played in his tournament in Washington, D.C., was very, very important for the Open Championship, because he had to get on the golf course.  He had to put himself under tournament conditions.  Even though he wasn’t as prepared as he wanted to, it was very still very important because he found out where he had to work, what things he had to do over the next couple of weeks to get better, and the most importantly, after coming off of a surgery, which I’ve had a couple of back surgeries, that you trust that it’s going to work.  That’s the hardest thing is mentally to believe that everything is going to be okay and you can make a swing and it’s not going to be a problem.

I thought that in that week where he didn’t play very well, there were still some glimpses of things that probably made him very encouraged when he went home.  He had a stretch of holes where he made some birdies.  He hit some good shots.  That’s really important for a player’s psyche, and I don’t care how good you are, you have to have some of those small steps along the way before you can take big steps again.

What to expect out of him next week?  We all hope he plays well.  We all hope that he’s there.  But if he does have some success next week, I think it’s really huge that it started all a couple of weeks ago when he didn’t play very well, so he actually got out there under the heat of battle a little bit.

PAUL AZINGER:  Let me add real quick, too, the greens at Hoylake are actually very easy.  There’s only a couple greens that are difficult.  Tiger’s strength ‑‑ of course there’s a mountain of things that separate him from everybody else, but not the least of which is the putter, and Tiger has not been the great putter, but he’s not coming to Augusta where he’s got to make these swinging five‑footers and seven‑footers.  These greens are reasonably flat, and I think ‑‑ let’s just face it:  The guy went a year and a half without missing a putt inside three and a half feet.  We haven’t seen that Tiger lately, and he’s going to have to hit those smaller putts like his life depended on it, like he used to hit them.  Whether it’s concentration or technique or whatever, I’m not sure, but at least at Hoylake, the greens are manageable.

CURTIS STRANGE:  One thing I want to add, I didn’t mean Washington was a big step to go out and see if your body actually can hold up, to see if the pain is there at all, to see what the body does swinging the golf club, I agree with all that stuff.  But with that said, he hasn’t played well.  He didn’t play well there, and there might have been some positive things happen to him at Congressional, but when you look at him and can he play well and will he play well at Hoylake, it’s asking a lot of even Tiger Woods to go and really expect him to play well.

Yes, we all want him to play well for obvious reasons, but I just don’t see it as a golfer to come play a different type of golf against the best players in the world.

Q.  Andy, what do you think Tiger needs to show the rest of the season in order to be considered as a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup?

ANDY NORTH:  Well, I think this is obviously Captain Watson’s decision, but I think it’s going to be very important that he shows that he’s healthy, and I think it’s going to be important to show that his game is in good form.  What does that mean?  I think there’s a lot of different ways you can look at that, but I think he’s got it looks like three starts probably before the FedExCup starts.  I think that he probably needs to play well those three weeks.

Now, what playing well means is different for everybody, but I think he’s got to go out there and ‑‑ I think it would be important for him to contend one of those three weeks.

Q.  I’m not sure who can answer this, but has ESPN done any studies on this or have the announcers had any feedback about this:  Do people watch the British Open live or do you think they watch it more on the replays because it’s so early in the day?

MIKE McQUADE:  I have not done any ‑‑ I’ve done my own research on it.  I don’t get many comments about it.  We air three majors.  We do re‑airs of them:  The Masters, the U.S. Open, and the British, and the ratings are all fairly comparable.  I would say the Masters we are probably higher, but we are on so long for the Open that by the end of it, people have already ‑‑ there’s no reason to watch the re‑air because you’ve gotten most of what you needed to get by even watching three hours of it.  I feel it’s fairly comparable even if you just watch a different part of it.

MIKE TIRICO:  I can add just a couple of things to that real quick.  On Saturday and Sunday, we end at 2:30 eastern Saturday, 1:30 eastern on Sunday, so it’s not terribly early for people in terms of Saturday and Sunday when their real viewing window comes to the maximum.

Unlike the other majors for that obvious reason, though, three hours in the late afternoon, 3:00 to 6:00, that usual golf window, that airs on ABC, as well, over the years, so people have a chance to see it multiple times in addition to what Mike was just talking about, in primetime, at night.

I think there are more opportunities to see this, but television ratings are considered on live shows.  When you see a rating for a show, it’s not necessarily the people who DVR it and go back and watch it at a later time.  The ratings are the ratings.  It just accumulates differently because there are re‑airs of significant portions of the coverage in the middle of the afternoon and then, as Mike said, same as the other majors, later on in the evening.

Q.  What will that week be like for you doing the World Cup in Brazil, flying up to England and then doing the British Open?  What’s that week like?

MIKE TIRICO:  It’s a thrill.  I have always thrived on the more work, you better you work, and as long as the travel from Rio to Brasilia to Lisbon to Manchester and then the drive to the golf course goes okay, I’ll be absolutely thrilled.

I get to see Jim Nantz every year when we’re over at the Masters, and Jimmy goes from the finals on Monday of the college basketball to the Masters on Sunday.  The difference here is obviously we’re a continent away.  The World Cup final is the most watched sporting event in the world every four years, so to be a part of that as the host and then to be a part of this golf championship just four days later is a pretty cool experience to be honest with you.  I’m pinching myself at the opportunity.  I’m enjoying every second of it.  Airline permitting, it’s going to be one heck of a week for me.

Q.  How do you stay fresh, though, with all the travel?

MIKE TIRICO:  We sit on our butts and talk.  People make a lot of what we do, and I appreciate that, and you want to stay as mentally fresh as you can because you’re talking for several hours a day, but sleep on planes is one of the big things, and I plan on not being awake for much of the flight from Brasilia to Lisbon, hit the golf course running on Tuesday afternoon, and the adrenaline of the Open Championship always gets you going.  You see the yellow scoreboards there, and all you have to do is sit in our spot where Zinger and I get to sit for four days, you turn around, and if you like golf, you would give up a lot to have the seat that we’ve been lucky to have for the last 17 years there looking down the 18th hole at the Open.

We’ll make it through just fine.  I really truly mean that when I say it.  I am energized and get great adrenaline out of the opportunity to be a part of a difficult set of logistics to be on the air for things like this.  It makes it fun, it really does.

Q.  Question for Mike McQuade on the production side.  You talked about how the Open is really strictly an ESPN show, at least for the U.S. rights, and then I also know that you guys work mostly out of cabins rather than trucks in terms of the actual operations.  Can you kind of talk about what makes this show unique from the other majors and how you try to add a different kind of spin on it?

MIKE McQUADE:  Well, besides just the sheer volume of coverage, from a production standpoint, really the most unique thing is what we’ve been talking about since the outset, is that we’re never together.  Maybe that’s why we get along so well.  All the production people, they come from ‑‑ a lot are coming from Wimbledon, working at Wimbledon, a lot of them are coming off their vacation because they’re getting ready for college football.  So I would say the greatest behind‑the‑scenes challenge and the difference is that we don’t do golf.  We love golf, but we don’t produce golf every week.

As far as when we’re over here and what we’re doing, after the first hour, you could be in a truck, you could be in a cabin, you could be on the moon.  It doesn’t matter, it’s still television, and the level of execution and the expectation is still the same.

It does help to be in cabins, we believe, when we’re doing it for 11 or 12 hours a day and you have actual room to move around as opposed to being confined to the truck.  The cabins also allow us just the sheer space and/or monitor walls; it allows hole monitors, if you will, to be bigger and not limited to the space within a truck.

Q.  And just a quick follow‑up, the virtual aerial technology has been around for a couple years now, and obviously with these kind of courses, it’s integral to the coverage with the winds and everything.  How has that kind of evolved, and how is how you guys use it within the show evolved over the last couple years?

MIKE McQUADE:  Well, I mean, the evolution for us had always been that it needed to be a live function.  We did not want to take the time for it to be something we would put on tape and play back after the shot, so once we figured out how to make it a live function, then the possibilities became really much more open to us, so we were able then to take it out to the fairway as opposed to just on the tee, and now we have it positioned so it can track the distance once a ball lands and the run‑out from that.

I think really the next step, I think it would be great to have the ability to do it really on every single hole for every single shot.  Not necessarily saying that we would do it, but just knowing that you have the ability to do it if you wanted to, and then on top of that, having the data to be able to show the trajectory of 156 tee shots on a particular day (inaudible) how the hole is played.  Unlike some other majors, the variance in shots from the time of day to the player is really different, and I think that would be fascinating for people to see.

Q.  Your comments regarding Tiger’s swing changes, fingerprints versus fundamentals, could you elaborate on that and how maybe that’s been detrimental?

PAUL AZINGER:  Yeah, I think that every golfer that’s played golf for any great length of time has tried to make some kind of swing improvements or changes to get better, and in the last six or ten months or so, I’ve looked at a million pictures and I believe there’s only three things that everybody in the Hall of Fame does, and two of them relate to the lower body and the other is shaft lean or I guess face and path awareness.  I think Tiger is playing more golf swing and he’s not quite as face and path aware as he used to be.  For example, if I handed you a long‑handled ax randomly and said hit that tree, I don’t believe the flat side of the ax would ever hit that tree.  I think you’d hit it with the sharp edge of the ax.

I just get the feelings that golfers when they try to change their fingerprints, I think some of them do it under the guise that it’s fundamentals.  I’ve always been taught that the fundamentals were grip, stance and position at the top, and the variance in positions at the top that are in the Hall of Fame are as unique as the fingerprints on your hand, as are swing plane, as are stance.  Bubba Watson shatters the mold.  He’s won two majors.  You wouldn’t teach putting it at the top of that backswing, across the line, past parallel, and his feet are flying all over the place, yet he’s a major champion two times over.

Everybody looks different.  Everybody in the world looks different.  I believe fundamentals are really lost in today’s instruction to the point where ‑‑ I’m not saying it’s a crisis, but it’s pretty bad.  I think a lot of instructors are treating their students like a chiropractor would treat a patient.  You need to come back for six straight ‑‑ if somebody tells Tiger Woods it’s going to take six weeks or six months, it would shock me.  I think if you don’t have Tiger hitting it better in the first 10 or 15 minutes, then you’re probably giving him bad information.  If you told Curtis Strange that he is, and he didn’t hit it better in the first five or ten minutes, I’m guessing you’re telling him wrong, and that’s the position I’m coming from.

I’m looking at Tiger Woods as somebody who in his quest to improve and get better, I think he’s mistaken, just like I did and hundreds of guys that have played the Tour at a high level, mistaking the uniqueness or the fingerprint, if you will, as a fundamental.  I don’t believe Jack ever made that mistake.  I just don’t.

Q.  If Tiger doesn’t get to 18 and you look back, would you say the swing was the larger factor than the injuries, or how would you view why he didn’t get there?

PAUL AZINGER:  Like I say, I think he’s the only guy who has dramatically changed the way his swing looks and has still been able to play at an extremely high level.  I mean, when he went from Butch to Hank, even a lay golfer could tell that Tiger’s swing had changed, and he won five or six majors doing that.  Nobody else ‑‑ you could argue maybe Hogan changed the uniqueness of his look or maybe Faldo or today maybe Matt Kuchar, but nothing like what Tiger did.  Matt Kuchar has gone back to what he used to do.  I guess Faldo shortened his swing a little bit, and Hogan, I don’t know.  I don’t know of anybody who’s changed the way they look more than Tiger Woods with respect to his golf swing and still played great.  Most people just go away.  They disappear trying to do what he’s done.

It just is a real example of what a great player he has been.  Now that he doesn’t putt as well, it’s hard to be as great as you once were if you don’t make putts, and I just think unnecessarily, Tiger has, for whatever reason, whether it was an effort ‑‑ sometimes a change is as good as a rest, and it gets you out the door.  Maybe that’s why Tiger made the changes.  Maybe he was bored.  Maybe he did it because his left knee was snapping and that’s something he tried to fix.  But the reality is the left leg should straighten through the hit a little bit as one of the things I feel are the three fundamentals.

I don’t know, I mean, he may look back and have regrets.  I know that he’s only worked with one guy that’s played golf at a really high level, and that’s Butch Harmon, and for him to just turn it all over to two guys that have never played on a high level is a bit of a mystery considering how great Tiger was when he did it.  I’m not trying to be harsh, I’m just trying to be ‑‑ I guess it’s more blunt than harsh.

I hope he plays great.  I mean, I hope he’s recovered from injury.  Sometimes you make these changes and it creates injury, as well.

Q. Martin Kaymer’s rise, did any of you see this building, and what was the final piece that put him back among the elite?

CURTIS STRANGE:  Well, you saw him playing better, but you certainly didn’t see what he did, how well he played at Pinehurst.  But I go back to where when he got to No. 1 in the world when he won the PGA Championship and was going to be really kind of one of the next future superstars, true superstars, and he went down the toilet just a bit for the same reason Paul just talked about.  He went to change his swing a little bit, and you go away from your natural ability to swing a stick in the golf club.

I question why did he do that.  He was trying to get better.  Trying to get better and better and better and compete with Tiger at the time.  I marvel at his golf swing.  I think his golf swing is unbelievable.  He swings the club in an aggressive fashion but under control.  He hits down and through the ball as well as anybody out there in the game today, and I marvel at the ability to ‑‑ the speed that he has and as well as he played at Pinehurst.

Pinehurst was not near as easy as he made it look the first two days, and that’s what happens, I guess, when some of the best players in the world get on top of their game.

I expect nothing but great things out of him in the future.  Can he hold it together?  Can he stay focused?  Can he stay driven?  We’ll wait and see.  But I think he’s fantastic.  You know what; if I was a young kid now, I’d want to emulate Martin Kaymer’s swing, I know that.

PAUL AZINGER:  One of the things that stands out to me about Kaymer was at the U.S. Open he made the comment that he had cleared his mind.  I’ve said this repeatedly, a golf swing only takes about a second and a half, and any one of us on this phone right now that have played this game know a lot can jump it your head in that second and a half, and when he said he cleared his mind, I was thinking, watch out, and he we did the Thursday‑Friday telecast there, and I loved it when he said that and continued to hit on that fact, and when a golfer at that level can play with a clear head, hang on, buddy, because he’s got something going on.

The very thing that may be clouding Tiger, all the conscious thought, all the thoughts and swing keys that sabotaged Martin Kaymer after he won the PGA, he got rid of them, and I think a lot of times that swing thoughts will sabotage good players.  You’ve got to have a key here and there.  You have to be able to eliminate one side the golf course.  That’s probably the greatest key to every great player’s success, but when you can get swing thoughts out of your head, that’s a major step.

CURTIS STRANGE:  But when he said that, Paul, that shows me he’s swinging well and his long game is confident, because when you’re swinging well and you know you’re going to hit the ball pretty solidly and straight day‑to‑day, then your mind does clear.  I actually think that comes before ‑‑ you can’t clear your head if you’re hitting skankers out there every day.  That comes from I’m not scoring real well but I know I’m swinging well.  I know my ball is in the middle of the club face, and I know it’s starting out on the trajectory I want it, and I’ve been doing it for a month.  It’s going to come around when I start making a few putts.  That’s the way I look at it.

Sports psychologists say you’ve got to go out there with a positive attitude every day, and I agree with that.  But that positive attitude is tough to stick in there with when you start skanking it on the second tee, and you say, son of a (expletive), I’m doing this again.

You know, what comes first, the chicken or the egg.  It’s as simple as that.  But when you see a player like Kaymer who says my mind is clear, that shows me he feels pretty damned good about his golf game.

ANDY NORTH:  Well, I think it’s always fun to be the last in this group.  Martin Kaymer got messed up.  He’s a guy who naturally cut the ball his entire life, and he tried to learn to hook the ball better to play Augusta National, and you’ve heard that story a million times.  When you’ve been a player who’s cut the ball and now you’re trying to draw it, it’s not just the technical stuff, it’s the look that you have, too, is that you start having to see things totally different.

This is usually the other direction, and it’s so easy to lose your confidence when you’re trying to make that kind of change.  And for him to fight his way back and go back to the putt he made at the Ryder Cup, that was a monster putt that helped his confidence a lot.  They sat him out most of that Ryder Cup because he was playing poorly, then to put him under pressure and have him perform under pressure, that can change an awful lot about how a player looks at himself and feels about what he’s doing, and I think that was the start of him coming back.

You have to play well.  Byron Nelson told me a long, long time ago, that to be a great player at this game you have to be brilliant or stupid, and if you’re in the middle, you’ve got no chance.  And I think that’s a lot of clearing your mind.  There’s some people that are not the sharpest knives in the drawer that have done great playing this game because they don’t think about anything.  That’s a beautiful thing.  If you could figure out a way not to think about anything for four hours, you’d be great.

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

ESPN’s College Football Live Returns July 14th

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The countdown is on!

College football season is mere weeks away. And in celebration, ESPN’s College Football Live returns next Monday, July 14th with all of the latest college football news and headlines. Chris Cotter will host. He will be joined by a rotating group of analysts that includes: Joey Galloway, Brian Griese, Desmond Howard, Danny Kanell, Trevor Matich, and Robert Smith in a half-hour round table setting.

Once football season is officially under way, College Football Live will broadcast live each Friday from the site of ESPN’s College GameDay Built by the Home Depot. And beginning next Monday, July 14th, football fans will get two and a half hours of football programming each day on ESPN Monday – Friday. That programming will come courtesy of College Football Live, NFL Insiders and NFL Live. The full schedule is listed below.

Show

Time (ET) Host/Analysts
College Football Live 2:30-3 p.m. Chris Cotter / Joey Galloway, Brian Griese, Desmond Howard, Danny Kanell, Trevor Matich, David Pollack & Robert Smith
NFL Insiders 3-4 p.m. Robert Flores / Chris Mortensen, Louis Riddick & Adam Schefter 
NFL Live 4-5 p.m. Suzy Kolber & Wendi Nix / Chris Mortensen, Bill Polian & Adam Schefter

 

More information on ESPN’s football programming is available online at http://espn.go.com/college-football, http://espn.go.com/nfl, http://www.facebook.com/NFLonESPN, and http://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.