History Detectives Impresses Again With Its Special Investigations

Courtesy: PBS

Courtesy: PBS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Animal Tales Is An Invaluable, Enjoyable Album For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Worm Hole Productions

Courtesy: Worm Hole Productions

Children’s entertainers Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke will release their latest album Animal Tales next Tuesday, October 21st.  The new album is the fifth for the British duo.  And it is a wonderful companion piece to The Whizpops’ latest full length studio effort Sea Blue Sea.  Whereas The Whizpops take audiences below the waves in Sea Blue Sea, Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke bring audiences back to the land for a journey around the world that teaches audiences about all the different animals that populate Earth’s different regions.  Along the way, they also teach a valuable lesson about ecological conservation that it very subtly mixed in.  So it doesn’t come across as being preachy.  The end result is an album that adults will find just as entertaining and valuable as children.

Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke have crafted an album in Animal Tales that adults will value just as much as children.  One of the main reasons for this is its accessibility in terms of its writing.  The elementary biology lessons prove to be just as enlightening for children as for adults believe it or not.  One prime example of that accessibility comes in the form of ‘Bear Song.’  The song introduces audiences of all ages to just some of the different species of bears that live around the world.  The duo introduces audiences to polar bears, black bears, and koalas, pandas, and even the different species of brown bears including the kodiac and the standard brown bear. Along the way, the duo makes note of pandas being endangered but keeps the mood light by making a light hearted joke about pandas not wanting to have babies in captivity.  It’s a light hearted joke.  But there is also a certain element of seriousness to this statement.  It shows the importance of trying to breed pandas especially in zoos as a means to hopefully one day take them off of the endangered species list.  The song’s semi country-folk sound adds to its enjoyment.  It’s just one of so many different musical styles presented throughout the album.  That variety of musical elements is another aspect of Animal Tales that makes this album such a joy for audiences.

The musical trip on which Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke take listeners on the duo’s new album is the central point of this record’s enjoyment.  Speaking of the album’s music, its musical side is another reason that audiences of all ages will enjoy the album.  Wilde and Clarke present each of the record’s songs in a different musical style from the others.  ‘Armando Armadillo’ is presented accordingly against a decidedly Tex-Mex sound.  ‘The Buck Stops Here’, clocks in at just under two minutes.  But in that short time, its semi-bluegrass feel proves to be just as perfect a fit.  By direct contrast, ‘Platypus’ is presented against a playful Dixieland style musical backing.  The song’s lyrical content makes that sound even more fun for audiences.  And the laid back, bluesy sound of ‘Alligator Get-Together’ fits this song just as well as alligators are so commonly seen mostly just relaxing on the banks of rivers or swimming easily up and down said bodies of water.  It’s one more example of how the musical variety presented throughout this record makes it even more enjoyable for audiences.  What’s more, the variety of musical styles presented on this record also serves as a great starting point in terms of introducing young audiences to different musical styles.  So not only does this album serve as a great elementary level lesson on biology and conservation, but it also serves as a solid introduction for music classes, too.  Once again, audiences are presented with another reason that this record is so enjoyable.

Animal Tales offers so much enjoyment for audiences.  As noted, it is an entertaining and easily accessible musical lesson on biology and conservation.  It also serves as an equally enjoyable elementary level introduction to a number of different genres of music.  Simply put, Animal Tales is more than just a bunch of songs about animals.  It is a multi-purpose teaching tool that can be used in both an elementary level science class and a music class at the same level.  That is actually a much wider expanse of uses than some might think.  Young audiences could even use it as a learning tool at home as it does offer a number of pneumonic devices throughout each song.  That multi-purpose educational use is just as important as the record’s general entertainment value.  When both of those factors are examined in depth as has been done here, they prove once more why this record is just as entertaining and valuable in the classroom as the living room.  It is an album that adults will find just as valuable and entertaining and children.

Animal Tales will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, October 21st.  It can be ordered online direct from Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke’s website.  More information on this album, all of the latest news from Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke, and all of the duo’s latest tour updates is available online at:

Website: http://keywildeandmrclarke.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Key-Wilde-Mr-Clarke/112784651164

Twitter: http://twitter.com/wildeclarke

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.

Symmetry In Black Is A Welcome Return From Crowbar

Courtesy:  eOne Music

Courtesy: eOne Music

2014 has been quite the year for hard rock and metal.  New releases from the likes of Anti-Mortem, Fozzy, and Wovenwar have already highlighted an already busy year.  And new releases on the way from Machine Head, Exodus, and Slipknot before the year lets out are giving metalheads the world over even more reason to be excited.  If that’s not enough reason for the metal masses to be happy this year, then perhaps the latest full length studio release from Crowbar will excite some members of the metal nation.  The band released Symmetry in Black late this spring via eOne Music.  This latest record, the band’s ninth, presents some of the band’s best material to date.  One reason for the quality and heaviness of the songs on this record is the full focus of guitarist Kirk Windstein.  Having put his other projects on the side so as to give full focus to Crowbar, he sounds at the top of his game.  And along with his band mates—Matt Brunson (guitar), Tommy Buckley (drums), and Jeff Golden (bass)—the work of the New Orleans-based four-piece presents a band that is at the top of its collective game.  The songs on this album are impressive not just for their heaviness, but for their lyrical content.  The album’s opener ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ is proof of that.  The same can be said of ‘Teach The Blind To See,’ which comes late in the album’s run.  ‘A Wealth of Empathy’ offers its own interesting lyrical content set against some rather heavy riffs, too.  The combination of this trio of just these three works shows how much Crowbar still has to offer audiences even today.  There are nine other songs on this record from which audiences can choose their own favorite(s).  In listening through those tracks and the songs noted here, audiences new and old alike will agree again that Symmetry in Black proves to be Crowbar’s best full length studio release to date.

Crowbar’s ninth full length studio release is some of the band’s best work to date as already noted. That is evident right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely.’ This song is a pure, heavy slab of southern sludge metal. Vocalist/guitarist Kirk Windstein is at the top of his game here, having put his other projects on the back burner for the time being. That pure, heavy sound set against the song’s thought provoking lyrics make it a hard-hitting return for the band. Windstein writes in this song, “My will cannot be broken/Cause when I rot I crawl back from the dead/I am the living proof/That you can right what is wrong in your head/The weak can always overcome/But only if they burn with desire.” Those few lines alone are empowering to say the very least. Their juxtaposition against the song’s dark, heavy sound makes them even more impactful. They become two polar opposites that together make a clear statement of determination and its payoff. As if that wasn’t enough of an example of the song’s message, Windstein goes on to write, “I am the living proof/That a soul can burn a thousand times/Accept what God has given you/And you’ll find the answer all around.” Don’t mistake that lien for Crowbar being a “Christian Band.” That’s hardly the case. It is simply Windstein and his band mates hammering home the fully positive message that it is possible to overcome so much of life’s negativity and difficulty. What better way to return after three years than with such a powerful musical and lyrical statement?

‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ is a powerful first statement from Crowbar on its new release. That’s because of the mix of its heavy sound and empowering lyrics. On the other side of things, a song such as ‘Teach The Blind To See’ will raise just as much conversation. That is thanks in large part to its lyrical content. Windstein writes in this song, “So many years so many words/Bringing honesty to you/Just follow me/You won’t regret/It’s what I do/I don’t forget/I’ll lead you to the truth.” One the one hand, one could argue that this is meant to be a social commentary of sorts. It could potentially be aimed at religious leaders whether they come from organized religion or from cults. The message would pretty much be the same regardless in that case. Making for even more conversation, Windstein goes on to write, “Know I’m not the enemy/I can teach the blind to see/Too many tears too many wounds/Bringing healing to the ill/Just follow me/You won’t regress/I’m giving life, I’m giving breath/At times it’s hard, at times I’m blind/But I bring new life to you/And in the end/That’s what is real/Cause agony will make you feel/Into freedom I lead you.” It goes without saying that this makes for even more discussion. It would be interesting to know for certain the inspiration for this song. Regardless, the fact that it has the potential to create so much discussion combined with its pummeling musical heaviness makes it one more of the best pieces on this album.

Both ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ and ‘Teach The Blind To See’ are important in their own right to Symmetry in Black in terms of its overall presentation. Musically, both songs are extremely heavy. Lyrically speaking, they couldn’t be more opposite from one another. One is empowering. The other seems something of a commentary. So both songs present their own value to the album in whole. They just do so in their own way. The same can be said of ‘A Wealth of Empathy.’ Much like the album’s opener, this song presents a rather positive message of hope set against a rather heavy musical side that directly contrasts its lyrical side. Windstein writes in this song of overcoming all of the negativity thrown out in life. One could actually argue in the case of this song that it is in its own right a companion to ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ as that song discussed trying to overcome said difficulties and negativity in life. This piece goes more in an introspective direction, with Windstein looking back on those difficulties and negativity, declaring that he has overcome them. He writes here, “I can’t explain my suffering/But I have lived through misery/My faith will pull me through/And bring to me new life/No need for sympathy/I’ve overcome/My strife/No longer feeling cold/The mind grows wise as we grow old.” That is quite the hopeful statement. And as with the album’s opener, such statement set against the song’s foreboding musical element, it makes for an even more powerful statement of personal emotional strength. That overall impact makes this song one of the highest of points on this record. Together with ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely,’ ‘Teach The Blind To See,’ and the album’s remaining nine tracks, they make up an album that is one that any long-time fan of Crowbar will thoroughly enjoy.

Whether it be for the album’s more inspirational songs such as the pair mentioned here or for others that make up this record, every fan of Crowbar will find their own reason to enjoy this new record. It is available now in stores and online. Fans can get more info on this and other releases from Crowbar as well as the latest updates from the band online at:

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/crowbarrules

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

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

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

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

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

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

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

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

 

Website: http://betweentheburiedandme

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/btbamofficial

 

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

Psychedelic Resurrection Is A Welcome Return From A Cult Favorite Band

Courtesy:  Kayos Productions

Courtesy: Kayos Productions

The Blues Magoos are back! It’s been some four decades since audiences last heard from this cult favorite garage rock band.  And now the wait is over thanks to the release of the band’s new album Psychedelic Resurrection.  The album’s title is slightly deceiving as few of the songs that make up its track listing are necessarily psychedelic per se.  That’s not to say that the songs (both new and re-worked alike) aren’t enjoyable.  That should not be misinterpreted.  They are each interesting works in their own right, though.  And altogether all ten of the songs included on this record make Psychedelic Resurrection a great re-introduction for one of the best of the least-known bands of the 60s. One track on this record that does live up to the album’s title is its closer ‘Tobacco Road.’  This bluesy piece conjures thoughts of both The Doors and Deep Purple believe it or not.  ‘I’m Still Playing’ also presents a little bit of that old school rock sound.  And then there is the equally bluesy ‘Gotta Get Away.’  One can’t help but think about a smoky nightclub in listening to this openly classic rock style piece.  This song is the equivalent of a musical time capsule that has been pried open.  It brings to the 21st century a sound that so many have tried and failed to emulate.  Together with the likes of ‘Tobacco Road’ and ‘I’m Still Playing’ ‘Gotta Get Away’ serves as more proof of why every rock and roll purist should hear Psychedelic Resurrection at least once.  That is not to discount the other songs on this record.  Every track on this record offers its own enjoyment and value.  And in listening to each of the songs that make up this record, audiences of all ages will agree that The Blues Magoos deserves to be more than the cult favorite that it was so many years ago.  It could well be more than that cult favorite when audiences and programmers nationwide give Psychedelic Resurrection at least one listen.

The Blues Magoos was never one of the biggest names in the music industry.  It was thanks to the band’s one major hit ‘(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet’ in the 1960s.  After that one song, the band never really was able to attain the same level of success earned thanks to that single song.  It has still managed to maintain its place in the rock pantheon, though, remaining one of the rock world’s best known unknown bands.  Confused yet? Ok.  Now thanks to its brand new release Psychedelic Resurrection, the Blues Magoos is set to make a name for itself again.  Thanks to the songs included on this record include both new songs and some revamped pieces, too.  One of the best of the songs included in this record is its closing number ‘Tobacco Road.’  The song’s bluesy sound instantly conjures thoughts of both The Grateful Dead and to a slightly lesser degree Deep Purple.  And while it runs just over five and a half minutes, the richness of the song makes it feel like it runs much longer.  That is meant in the best manner possible.  Front man “Peppy” Castro sings of a young man growing up in a difficult situation against the twelve-bar blues sound established by himself and lead guitarist Dennis LePore. Thielhelm sings of the young man’s upbringing, “I was born/In a dump/Momma died/And my daddy got drunk/They left me here/To die alone/In the middle of Tobacco Road/I grew up in/A rusty shack/All I had/Was what was hanging on my back/Only you know/How low/This place called Tobacco Road.”  Anyone that is a fan of The Doors will be able to catch a similarity to that band’s hit song ‘Roadhouse Blues’ in listening to this composition.  It is slight.  But it is there.  And it’s a nice touch, too.  Even Castro sounds a little like The Doors’ legendary front man Jim Morrison as he sings.  That makes this song even more of a joy for any purist rock and roll purists out there.  There are certain elements in the song that conjure thoughts of Deep Purple, too.  Such combination is certain to make this song a favorite among audiences regardless of their familiarity with The Blues Magoos.  Whether they are hearing the band for the first time or the first time in a long time, it is one of the best moments on this record.  It isn’t the record’s only positive moment, either.

‘Tobacco Road’ proves to be one of the best of Psychedelic Resurrection’s moments thanks to its direct link back to fellow greats of rock’s golden age such as The Doors, Deep Purple, and to a lesser extent The Grateful Dead.  ‘I’m Still Playing’ is another of the best moments from The Blues Magoos’ new album.  Unlike the album’s closer, this song is a much more straight-forward rock tune.  Its straight 4/4 time is driven largely by the band’s original drummer Geoff Daking.  His work on the kit alongside Castro’s vocals and work on the guitar may lead some to make a comparison to The Knack.  The song’s infectious chorus of “I’m still playin’/And you’re still hanging around” alone make this song another fun addition to the album.  Castro’s catchy riffs and Daking’s impeccable time keeping make the song even more enjoyable for audiences. The end result is one more song that given the opportunity will make The Blues Magoos more than just a one-hit wonder this time around.

Both ‘Tobacco Road’ and ‘I’m Still Playing’ are great additions to The Blues Magoos’ new record.  They serve as only a tiny cross section of the album’s enjoyable whole, though.  ‘Gotta Get Away’ is perhaps one of the best additions of all to this record.  The reason for that is the seeming musical bridge between music’s golden era and its more modern era.  Castro sounds a little bit like fellow veteran vocalist Elvis Costello in this song, while the song’s musical side bears resemblance to the likes of Neil Young during the verses.  The song’s chorus sections sound are throwbacks to the golden era of rock.  As with the previously noted songs Daking’s drumming and Castro’s guitar work serves as the song’s backbone.  It is one of those musical hybrids that absolutely must be heard to be fully understood and appreciated.   Audiences that give this song a chance and any of the others included in this album will agree that while The Blues Magoos was little more than a cult favorite way back in the 1960s, it could be far more than that today thanks to this album.  Given the chance by audiences and programmers alike, Psychedelic Resurrection will prove that despite the comments of the likes of Gene Simmons, rock is not dead, but alive and well.

Psychedelic Resurrection is available now in stores and online.  In celebration of the album’s release, The Blues Magoos will perform live tomorrow, October 16th at The Bowery Electric in New York City.  Audiences can also pick up the band’s album at that concert, too tomorrow.  More information on Psychedelic Resurrection and all of the latest updates and live dates from The Blues Magoos is available online at:

Website: http://www.thebluesmagoos.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blues-Magoos-Psychedelic-Resurrection/136384816418734

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

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

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

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

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

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

Websitehttp://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

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

 

Set It Off’s “Duality” Is A Solid Sophomore Effort

Courtesy:  Equal Vision Records

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

Set It Off releases its brand new full-length studio effort Duality today.  The album, the band’s second full-length release and fifth overall release is an impressive new work. That is because it does so much to continue establishing the band’s identity, separating it even more from other bands to whom it had been compared early on in its existence.  While the band exhibits quite a bit of growth on this album, it also hasn’t lost the sound that made it so popular early on among its fan base.  That makes Dualityeven more of a solid new recording from Set It Off.  The combination of the band’s musical growth is evident in the album’s lead single ‘Why Worry.’  The band’s harder edged sound is present in this song.  But there is also a poppier sound mixed into the whole.  That balance of sounds alongside the song’s thought provoking lyrics makes clear why this song was chosen as the album’s lead.  Staying on a similar page, audiences will also enjoy ‘Tomorrow.’  Its Jimmy Eat World style sound crosses with its equally optimistic lyrics to make this song just as much of a surefire hit with listeners.  On the completely opposite side of things, the lyrically searing ‘Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’ is sure to ignite just as much of a fire in listeners because of its intensity both musically and lyrically.  These songs are just a few that exhibit what makes Dualitya solid second full-length release from Set It Off.  The album’s other eight tracks are sure to become favorites to listeners in their own right, too.  Collectively, all eleven tracks on Duality prove just why audiences will want to check out this latest release from Set It Off regardless of their familiarity with the band and its sound.

Duality is a record that every lover of rock should hear regardless of their familiarity with the band and its sound.  ‘Why Worry,’ the album’s lead single, takes the sound that made the band a fan favorite early on and mixes it with a somewhat more poppy, Fall Out Boy style sound in its chorus to make a song that proves to be quite catchy musically speaking.  The song’s positive lyrics make this piece even more enjoyable.  Front man Cody Carson sings in the song’s opening verse, “This sinking feeling sets/It feels just like a hole inside your chest/I know you’re thinking No, no, no, no it is easier said than done/But please let me attest/I know it’s hard/You’re feeling like you’re trapped/But that’s how you react/When you cannot see the light/But try and see the light/I’m telling you no, no, no, no you’re the only one/Standing in your way/Just take a breath/Relax/And tell me….Why/Please tell me why do we worry.”  The song comes across as addressing those individuals that think to themselves “Oh woe is me.” Carson says to those people in an attempt to motivate them, “You’re the only one/Standing in your way.”  The song’s second verse in which Carson sings about handling each day’s difficulties as they come rather than trying to cross bridges that don’t yet exist.  It proves to be quite the enlightening work and uplifting at the same time.  The addition of the song’s catchy hooks and choruses make it even more enjoyable and clearer why it was chosen as the album’s lead single.  Thanks to a partnership with Fuse TV, audiences can check out the song’s brand new companion video online at http://www.fuse.tv/videos/2014/10/set-it-off-why-worry-premiere. 

‘Why Worry’ was an excellent first choice to represent what Duality has to offer audiences.  Its combination of catchy hooks and choruses alongside its positive lyrics will both move listeners and get them moving.  Much in the same vein, ‘Tomorrow’ offers its own enjoyment and positivity.  Intended or not, this song exhibits something of a Jimmy Eat World style sound in its musical side.  Lyrically, it is just as uplifting as ‘Why Worry.’  Carson sings in this song, “They’re gonna try to clip your wings/Lock you up and make you sing/But they’ll never cage your dreams/So fly away/Cause we’ve got tomorrow/We’re the pages in the wind/We’ve got tomorrow/We’re the tale that lies within/There’s always another day/Another night/A bittersweet blessing in disguise/Tomorrow/We’re the authors of our lives tomorrow.”  Carson’s note that there’s always another “bittersweet blessing in disguise” is such a short statement.  But it speaks volumes.  He is saying that even things that seem bad could be blessings in disguise. And those hidden blessings are what make tomorrow better than today.  It is truly a positive message.  It is a message from which audiences of all ages can take some heart and hope.  That positive message set against the song’s catchy musical side makes it another of the best of this record’s moments.

The positive messages and catchy music that make up ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Why Worry’ make these songs two of the brightest moments on Duality.  On the completely opposite side of things, the lyrically searing ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ is certain to get any listener’s adrenaline flowing.  The song’s title and its lyrics leave zero doubt as to what the song’s topic.  It is a full-on lyrical assault on those that would attempt to lie and deceive others.  Those people include those people that call themselves friends but are so fast to stab people in the back among others.  Cody makes this painfully clear as he sings right off the top of the song, “Beware, beware be skeptical/Of their smiles/Their smiles of plated gold/Deceit so natural/But a wolf in sheep’s clothing is more than a warning.”  He goes on to sarcastically use nursery rhymes to illustrate his point.  That use of children’s nursery rhymes as a juxtaposition of children’s mentality to that of older individuals adds even more punch to the song.  And Carson’s diatribe that builds into the song possesses enough vitriol to make Eminem proud.  Though in his defense, who wouldn’t want to scream “Burn in Hell!” to those that have deceived us for one reason or another?  It is a powerful finishing touch to what is one more of Duality’s best moments.    Together with the likes of ‘Why Worry’ and ‘Tomorrow,’ Set It Off has proven once again why it is one of the best in the next generation of its genre.

‘Why Worry,’ ‘Tomorrow,’ and ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ are each excellent examples of what makes Duality a solid sophomore effort from Set It Off.  They aren’t the only positives to this album in whole, though.  The album’s gentle closer ‘Miss Mysterious’ is the polar opposite of the album’s opener ‘The Haunting.’  ‘Bleak December’ also offers its own value to the whole as does ‘N.M.E.’  All things considered, Duality is proof that Set It Off has just started and the future looks bright for this u-and-coming band.  The band will hit the road in support of Duality beginning tomorrow, October 15th in Orlando, Florida on the “Black Mass 2014” tour presented by Hot Topic.  Also along for the ride will be Black Veil Brides, Falling in Reverse, and Drama Club.  The tour brings all four bands to North Carolina next month.  It will make a stop at The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 5th.  Tickets for the concert can be ordered online via Ticketmaster.  Set It Off’s complete tour schedule is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.setitoffband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/setitoff

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/setitoff

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.