Bernie And Ernie Closes Out ESPN’s Fall “Season” Of 30 For 30

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN and ESPN Films wind down the Fall 2013 edition of 30 for 30 next Tuesday, November 5th.  The Worldwide leader in sports finishes off this season of its Peabody Award-winning series by taking viewers into the world of college basketball in Bernie and Ernie.

Bernie and Ernie takes viewers into the relationship between former college basketball stars Bernard King and Ernie Grunfield.  The pair rose to fame as the center of the University of Tennessee’s men’s college basketball team in the mid-1970s.  Between them, the pair scored on average fifty points per game.  Their rise to fame eventually led to a cover story for Sports Illustrated.  While things were coming up roses for the pair in the public eye, things were much different for the two men behind closed doors.  There was a distance between the players during their years together on the team.  That was because of their different upbringings.  King lived hard growing up.  Despite being devout Christians, King’s parents offered little to no emotional support to him as he nurtured his talent.  And during his college years, he had to endure acts of racial bigotry.

Ernie Grunfeld had a different upbringing than his team mate.  As a child, the young Romanian immigrant spoke no English at all.  But by his teen years, he was being recruited by some two hundred colleges.  He had no clue about everything that King was enduring while the pair were attending the university of Tennessee.  This is what would eventually lead to a distance between the players.  However, years after they left the Volunteers, the pair would end up reuniting after King was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this year.  Bernie and Ernie examines that friendship from the pair’s years in college up to this year.  It is narrated by Public Enemy front man Chuck D and directed by Jason Hehir (The Fab Five).  Bernie and Ernie premieres Tuesday, November 5th at 8pm ET on ESPN.

Bernie and Ernie will be available for download via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video the day after its broadcast.  A six-disc collectible gift set featuring the first fifteen films from 30 for 30 Volume II on November 26th, 2013.  More information on this and all things 30 for 30 is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30, http://twitter.com/30for30, and http://espn.go.com/30for30.  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.

Slash, Chuck D. Join Anthrax On Stage At Metal Alliance Show

 

Photo Credit:  Stephanie Cabral

Photo Credit: Stephanie Cabral

 

Metal Alliance Tour headliners Anthrax had a couple very special guests last night at the tour’s sold out stop in Hollywood, CA.  The tour made a stop at the Hollywood, CA House of Blues last night.  Much to the surprise of audiences in attendance, Anthrax was joined on stage during its set by none other than Public Enemy front man Chuck D. and guitarist Slash.  Slash joined the band on-stage for its performance of AC/DC’s hit, ‘T.N.T.’ Slash covered lead guitar duties for this performance.  Later in the night’s performance, Chuck D. surprised everyone when he came on stage and performed ‘Bring The Noise’ with the band.  The band originally recorded this song with Public Enemy in 1991.

Photo Credit:  Stephanie Cabral

Photo Credit: Stephanie Cabral

Slash and Chuck D. were just a couple of the celebrities in house for last night’s stop on the Metal Alliance Tour.  Kerry King (Slayer), John Tempesta (The Cult, Rob Zombie), Justin Chendellor (Tool), Brendon Small (Dethklok) and actor/musician Brian Posehn were also on hand for last night’s show.

The Metal Alliance Tour runs through late April.  It was in San Francisco, CA tonight.  Friday, the tour—also featuring Municipal Waste, Exodus, High on Fire, and Holy Grail—will be at the Roseland Ballroom in Portland, Oregon.  Fans in North Carolina will get the chance to see the band live when it makes a stop at the Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte.  And right now, fans can get the chance to see Anthrax for Free when the tour comes to Charlotte next month.  The Phil’s Picks Facebook page and the Tremont Music Hall together are giving away a pair of tickets to see the band free.  Along with the tickets, one lucky fan will also win a copy of the band’s new EP, Anthems.  Fans need just go to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Once that’s done, fans need only send a message or write on the Phil’s Picks timeline indicating that they want in on the contest.  One lucky person’s name will be drawn Friday morning at 9am.  The tickets to the show will be at Will Call at the Tremont Music Hall.  The winner can either pick up the CD in person or have it mailed to them.

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

RATM’s Anniversary Box Set A Great Gift To Band’s Fans

Courtesy:  Epic Records/Legacy Recordings

Courtesy: Epic Records/Legacy Recordings

Twenty years ago, one of the biggest bands in modern music history first broke through with its self-titled debut release.  That debut album completely changed the face of music at the time.  The band in question was none other than Rage Against The Machine.  While RATM may not have been the originators of the rap/rock genre, its musical styling wasn’t what made it such an influential band.  It was the fire lit under an entire generation by the band’s sound mixed with its unapologetic political stance.  The band united a generation, telling in no uncertain terms, to “take the power back.”  And the masses began to do just that in listening to the band’s debut.  The band’s message still resonates true with that generation today and even a whole new generation.  In celebration of that continued impact, Epic Records and Legacy Recordings have released the band’s debut album in a box set complete with the band’s original demo, and a handful of extra live performances never before released and other bonuses.

When fans first open the new Rage Against The Machine XX Deluxe Box set, they are greeted with a large picture book featuring pictures from the band’s career.  It opens with an introduction by fellow music veteran and Public Enemy front man Chuck D.  Chuck notes of the band in his intro, “Over the past 20 years, I’ve often called them the greatest band on Earth because of their ability to stand out musically, lyrically, and philosophically.  Nobody comes close to sounding like THEM.  Their lethal combination of many things considered NON-rock makes them the best rock band period.  Sonically distinct, a cocktail bomb sum of its parts.”  That’s a pretty bold statement coming from one of music’s other biggest and equally most controversial individuals.  And it’s an entirely grounded statement, too.  When RATM first broke through in 1992 with its self-titled debut, the music industry had just broken away from the hair metal movement of the 80’s, and was just opening the era of the Seattle “grunge” sound.  The world of pop music was moving away from 80’s nu-wave and into the more bubble-gum sound that is so prevalent today.  Enter Rage Against The Machine.  As Chuck D. notes, there was nothing like this California based quartet out there at the time.  And as he notes late in his intro, music hasn’t been the same since.

The additional liner notes by Chuck D. in this new box set’s mega picture booklet are just one piece of the whole that makes it a nice idea for any long-time fan of RATM.  After going through the liner notes and photos included in the booklet, fans get to really get into the box set.  First off after the booklet is a rather large double-sided fold out poster with two images of the band.  If a person were to want, one could easily put the poster under double glass and perhaps hang it in a way that would show both sides.  Otherwise, it still makes for a nice bonus to the entire set. 

Moving the poster aside, audiences finally get into the real heart of the set.  The real heart of this set comes in two smaller boxes inside the larger.  The first of those two boxes is one containing a pair of CD’s and a pair of DVD’s.  The first of the two CD’s is the band’s original 1992 debut album.  Whether fans already own the original album or not, this re-issue offers listeners a few bonuses in the form of a trio of bonus live tracks.  The first of the bonus live tracks is a live track taken from the band’s original single release of ‘Bombtrack.’  This piece opens with an introduction by front man Zack de la Rocha.  He explains the basis of the song being centered on AIM member Leonard Peltier.  Long time fans will recognize his name as his ongoing case is also the center of the video for the band’s equally well known song, ‘Freedom.’  ‘Bombtrack’ is followed with a live take of another of the band’s megahits, ‘Bullet in the Head.’  No introduction here.  The band simply launches right into the song.  A live, extended take of ‘Take The Power Back’ closes out this new re-issue of the band’s debut.  It’s a fitting closer, too as it reminds audiences of exactly what RATM stood for then and the impact that it still has on audiences today, despite having only released three albums in its time together.  If the bonus live tracks on the new re-issue aren’t enough for fans, then the inclusion of a full, double-sided 180g vinyl copy of the album might be.  It doesn’t have the bonus tracks.  But for anyone that is nostalgic for vinyl, this inclusion makes for yet another bonus to the set.

The second CD included in the band’s new anniversary set is a full run of the band’s original demo tape.  The tape was originally recorded in 1991.  Before its inclusion in this set, the only way that audiences could get their hands on it was at the band’s live shows.  Now fans can hear early takes on the songs that would make RATM the band that it is today.  Audiences will note that while some of the songs on the demo were included on the eventual full length debut, others weren’t so lucky.  But at least one of the songs on this release managed to find its way onto the soundtrack of the 1994 Brand Lee breakout movie, The Crow.  That song is ‘Darkness of Greed.’  Along with that song, fans are also treated to the rare gems: ‘The Narrows’, ‘Auto Logic’, and ‘Mindset’s a Threat.’

Fans get a load of treats from the band’s original demo tape now on CD.  As an added bonus fans will also get to not only hear them, but also see them as the band’s first ever live recording is also included on DVD.  That performance was its performance on October 23rd, 1991 on the campus of Cal State Northridge. The video is somewhat rough.  But that’s because it was obviously originally recorded via VHS.  Nonetheless, having this added live experience makes this set all the more worth it for any true RATM fan.  It’s a real added bonus in that in comparison to where the band started, it’s amazing that the band would go so quickly from a college campus to playing major venues the world over.  Those massive venues included the likes of: Pink Pop, Rock Am, Reading Festival and its now iconic 2010 performance at Finsbury Park in London, England.  The performance was a thank you to fans who had helped the band’s single, ‘Killing in the Name’ reach number one over the winner of the U.K.’s X-factor the year before.  The turnout is absolutely incredible.  And the recorded performance is just as amazing.  Both the video and audio mix are above par.  Both help to translate the energy of both the audience and band to home viewers.  Yet again, it’s one more incredible piece that makes this set so much more powerful.   

A lot of thought and work went into assembling the final product that is RATM’s twentieth anniversary deluxe box set.  It includes the band’s original album both on CD and vinyl.  It also includes the band’s original demo tape that would lead to its landmark debut, as well as loads of live material on CD and DVD.  And let fans not forget about the included oversized photo book and double sided poster.  By the time fans have gone through this set, one of two things will happen.  It will leave fans hoping for the day that RATM returns in force with a brand new album or it will leave fans feeling fully satisfied at having a rather large piece of the band’s legacy.  Both reactions are great reactions to have as this deluxe box set is equally great for any of the band’s legions.  It’s available now in stores and online and makes for a very good gift for the RATM fan in anyone’s house.  It can be ordered online direct from the band’s official website, http://www.ratm.com/rage20/.  Fans can also get all the latest info from the band on its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.comRATM.

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

Meat Loaf’s “Hell in a Handbasket” is a musical heaven

Veteran vocalist, Meat Loaf, has scored a hit once again with his new album,  “Hell in a Handbasket.”  The singer’s eleventh full length studio release features what is arguably some of his finest work to date.  Each song on the album follows the common theme of everything that’s gone wrong with the world, and how it’s led to the world going to “Hell in a Handbasket.”  But in a larger scheme, one could argue that this album is really a concept album of sorts.

“Hell in a Handbasket” could be argued to be a concept album in that it opens and closes in a near story-like fashion.  The album opens with the song, “All of Me.”  Meatloaf starts off singing to his audience, “This is my anger/this is my shame/These are my insecurities/This is my fortress crumbled ’round my feet/Take a good look baby/This is all of me.”  He sings of a person who is frustrated with what people had caused him to become.  That leads into songs full of social commentary in the likes of ‘The Giving Tree’, ’40 Days’, and a cover of Tom Cochran’s ‘Mad Mad World.’ 

For all the commentary in “Hell in a Handbasket”, the album does have some more positive moments.  It also includes songs of life and love.  They come in the form of the amazing southern rock styling of ‘Live or Die’, ‘Our Love and Our Souls’, and what is arguably one of the album’s best songs, ‘Stand in The Storm.’    Meatloaf brings along country superstar Trace Adkins, Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath and hit rapper, Lil’ Jon along for the ride in this arena anthem.  Meat Loaf sings, “Somebody’s gotta stand in the storm/In the lightning when it pours/be strong enough to lean on/show you what a backbone’s for.”  This one leaves absolutely no doubt as to what its about.  And being that it’s one of the album’s closing tracks, its placement on the list is no coincidence.  It leads straight into ‘Blue Sky.’  ‘Blue Sky’ is the exact antithesis of ‘Stand in The Storm.’  It’s much softer both musically and lyrically.  This is the point where the story’s character is beginning to come to a realization.  He sings, “Have you a heart that beats/Heave you a breath to breathe/and have you veins that bleed/have you a brainthat dreams/Is it so hard to see that/we’re all the same machine/Don’t we all live and die/under the same blue sky?”  That’s his character asking, don’t you realize we’re all just human?  We’re all the same.  It’s a perfect lead-in to the album’s closer, ‘Fall from Grace.’

‘Stand in The Storm’ and ‘Blue Sky’ lead ultimately to the story’s main character coming to the revelation that no one is perfect in ‘Fall From Grace.’  And although nobody’s perfect, that’s okay.  He sings his epiphany, “No one is safe/You can fall from grace/In so many ways/One step forward two back/You can’t run away/From that empty space/You will find your place/When you run away/We will all fall from grace.”  Again, this is self explanatory.  The more positive vibe brought from the piano directly contradict the more uneasy feeling of the album’s opener.  That song, too, was led by a piano, only in a more ominous tone.  So it’s a perfect closure to this musical adventure.

“Hell in a Handbasket” isn’t necessarily a concept record.  But considering how it opens and closes, and the material that fills the album, it could be argued to be something similar.  And while concept albums in general tend to get a bad reputation, Meat Loaf’s new album is one great record, concept album or not.  One could even go so far as to say that in the bigger picture of albums due out in 2012, “Hell in a Handbasket” is a sleeper hit.  And it’s also one of the year’s best.

“Hell in a Handbasket” is available in stores and online now.  Meat Loaf currently has no tour dates scheduled.  Though he did recently perform on Leno.  To get more information on Meat Loaf’s upcoming plans, fans can check him out online at http://www.meatloaf.net, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MeatLoaf, and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RealMeatLoaf.