Stan Getz Live Is A Tribute To The Legacies Of Both Getz And Nobs

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Montreux Sounds

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Montreux Sounds

Claude Nobs started what is today one of the most respected festivals in the music world over forty five years ago when he founded the Montreux Jazz Festival.  Little did he know at the time that it would grow to be what it has become today.  It has grown from hosting the world’s best jazz artists and groups to being the venue that every band and artist across the spectrum dreams of playing.  It has indeed hosted some of the best of the best and some of the best to be, as is evidenced through the deal made between Montreux Sounds and Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The deal between the two companies has garnered some of the best live recordings to date.  It has also helped Eagle Rock maintain its place at the front of the class in terms of live recordings.  And it has continued to do so with the release of a recording that is a classic Montreux performance in every form of the word.  The recording in question is of the late great sax player Stan Getz.  The recording in question is taken from Getz’s very first ever performance at Montreux in 1972.  He is joined by two other very highly respected jazz artists in keyboardists Chick Corea and drummer Tony Williams.  Along with bassist Stanley Clarke, the quartet’s performance stands as a true tribute the legacy of not only the Montreux Jazz Festival, but to its now dearly departed founder, Claude Nobs.  Mr. Nobs would have been proud to see this recording finally see the light of day.  And so will true jazz lovers, too.

True lovers of jazz will appreciate this recording for a variety of reasons.  One of those reasons is the backstory provided by Corea himself in the DVD’s bonus booklet.  Corea states in the bonus liner notes that the quartet seen in this recording was also the group that ended up going out on tour with Getz prior to the show in 1971.  According to Corea, Getz was planning to go out on the road in ’71, but had no band with which to tour.  After making some contacts, the group presented here is the group that toured together.  It’s obvious that during that tour, a bond had formed between the band members.  Getz pulls back time and again throughout the roughly hour long set, allowing his band mates to get their time in the spotlight and then some.  It was his quiet way of telling the audiences that the show wasn’t about him.  It was about everyone on stage.  Again, this is echoed through the sentiments shared in the DVDs bonus booklet.  Corea shares so much insight on how he came to be friends with Getz and on how the group grew as friends and individuals.  So few people take the time to read liner notes, etc. on DVDs, Blu-rays, and CDs.  But this is one of those examples of why those booklets and liner notes aren’t always just wasted ink.  It helps to make this show more than just a recording.  Because of those liner notes, it becomes a fully immersive musical experience and equally important historical document of sorts.

The bonus booklet included with Stan Getz: Live at Montreux 1972 is but one part of what makes this live recording so enjoyable is the performance of the band.  As Corea noted in the bonus booklet, the band seen in this recording is the same band that toured with Getz the previous year.  What’s so amazing about the performance is that while the band had already played a handful of shows through 1971, just watching the band’s members perform together here one would think that they were playing together for the first time.  There was so much energy among the entire group in every song.  Williams’ drumming was completely off the charts.  It goes without saying that his playing is something to which EVERY drummer today should aspire.  The precision yet seeming controlled chaos of what he did is awe inspiring, even today.  And Getz’s own performance on the likes of ‘La Fiesta’ is just as incredible.  He proved that he was just as talented playing rather up-tempo pieces as he was playing slower pieces, like ‘Lush Life’ and the show’s opener, ‘Captain Marvel.’  The way that his fingers moved on ‘La Fiesta’, one would expect them to get tangled among themselves.  And his breath control, handling such long strains is incredible.  That set against his chops on the set’s slower songs proves why he is still so revered among jazz artists and musicians overall even today.  Corea exhibits his own talent throughout the show.  Again, it is something audiences must see for themselves to fully appreciate.  And appreciate it they will when they pick up this performance both on DVD and CD.  That’s right.  It’s available not only on DVD, but CD, too.  This is another positive to the recording’s overall presentation.

Stan Getz: Live at Montreux 1972 is a stunning tribute both to the legacy of Stan Getz and his band mates, and to the festival’s late founder, Claude Nobs.  The DVD presentation alone is outstanding for a variety of reasons.  Two of those reasons are already listed off here.  It is put over the top thanks to the inclusion of a solely CD recording as well.  This is hardly the first time that Eagle Rock has included a CD recording as an option for its live recordings.  As a matter of fact, Eagle Rock has done so with pretty much every live recording that it has released to date.  So why is this performance so important on both DVD and CD?  It is important because it completes the documentation of this classic performance and solidifies even more both the talents of the musicians presented here and the legacy of the Montreux Jazz Festival.  The performance is available now on both DVD and CD.  More information on this and other Montreux Jazz Festival recordings is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Lady A’s “Live On This Winter’s Night” Is Enjoyable For Any Winter’s Night

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Christmas is just around the corner once again.  And that means that the annual crop of holiday CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays will start appearing on store shelves everywhere very soon if they haven’t started doing so already.  It means that there will be lots of choices for those looking to get into the holiday spirit.  Decisions, decisions.  Those that are perhaps scratching their heads about what music to pick up to bring the holiday spirit into their homes might consider Lady Antebellum’s new holiday Blu-ray, This Winter’s Night.  The new blu-ray is the companion piece to the band’s new holiday CD by the same name.  And it is certain to warm any listener’s home and heart this holiday season when they watch it whether by themselves or with those they love.  The trio’s performance was recorded at Nashville, Tennessee’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center.  The venue itself was stunning.  And set against the band’s more quaint stage setup, it made for quite the overall effect on the overall presentation.  Speaking of the overall presentation, the trio’s chosen set list is also an important part of the show’s overall presentation.  And it most certainly impresses for those looking for the season’s more familiar sounds.  Add in the bonus music video and acoustic performances, and audiences get in This Winter’s Night, a full holiday performance that will be a favorite this and every holiday season.

Those charged with developing the setting for This Winter’s Night did quite the job with their responsibilities.  Those individuals made the stage setup at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center look just as cozy as that of NBC’s annual holiday show at Rockefeller Center.  The difference is that because it was indoors, it was only done on a smaller scale.  Ironically, it was that smaller scale presentation that made the show feel so much more intimate even for home audiences.  The use of the faux trees, the lighting, and the mid-size string ensemble together established the intended intimate feeling.  This is made even more impressive as it is set against the Schermerhorn’s openness.  And the set list chosen by Lady Antebellum for the show only served to heighten that feeling even more.

The set list chosen for This Winter’s Night is comprised largely of standards that any listener will recognize and enjoy.  There are also a couple of original songs written by the trio in the form of ‘This Christmas’ and the performance’s title song.  Audiences will enjoy these two songs just as much as the standards included in the performance.  Among the performances highlights are the trio’s performances of ‘Silent Night’, A Holly Jolly Christmas’, and the updated take on Elvis’ ‘Blue Christmas.’  ‘A Holly Jolly Christmas’ opens the concert, which comes in at just under an hour.  It’s a fun mid-tempo take on the original that’s certain to get any viewer dancing along at home.  The same can be said of the updated take on ‘Blue Christmas.’  This is a key moment in the performance because instead of going with the much more melancholy vibe established by the original song, the group went with a more upbeat almost swing style feeling for their take on it.  This gives the song a whole new meaning.  And the group’s take on ‘Silent Night’ to close the concert is certain to leave not a single dry eye among viewers.  This is one of the most beautiful and powerful songs among the canon of holiday songs.  The band does it full justice with its take on the song.  And having the audience in attendance singing at the song’s end without the string ensemble or the band makes it all the more impactful.  These are just a few examples of what this recording has to offer.  There are plenty of others to which audiences will lean.  But audiences will have to find out for themselves which songs they like most when they pick up this new release on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as CD.

The set list and the overall setup of the show on This Winter’s Night work in tandem to make it a memorable show for audiences.  This is regardless of whether one is a hardcore fan of Lady Antebellum or is just a fan of the holiday standards.  They play the primary role in this recording’s overall success.  There is still one piece of the overall presentation that must be examined, however.  That final piece is the presentation’s bonus features.  Audiences that watch through the main concert will notice short vignettes between songs.  Some of those vignettes introduce the song to be performed next.  Audiences get the full songs in question as part of the bonus features.  They are full acoustic, almost music video style performances of said songs.  The bonus acoustic performances included are: ‘Blue Christmas’, ‘The First Noel’, ‘Silent Night (Lord of my life)’, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, and ‘A Holly Jolly Christmas.’  The last of t hose songs in question also has its own whimsical music video included as a bonus feature, too.  Audiences will love seeing the young boy in the vide trying to get a kiss from Lady Antebellum’s own Hillary Scott.  The end result will have anyone laughing.  As even more bonus, audiences are also treated to a behind-the-scenes and “Making of” featurette on the music video.  These additions are the finishing touch to what is a holiday presentation sure to warm any home and heart this holiday season.  It is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.

Lady Antebellum is currently touring in support of both its new holiday release and its most recent full length studio release, Golden.  The band will perform at the Landers Center in Southaven, MS this Friday, November 8th.  The band will also make a stop at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina next January.  The band is scheduled to perform at the PNC Arena on Friday, January 10th at 7pm.  It also has a performance scheduled for Saturday, April 26th at Charlotte, NC’s Time Warner Cable Arena. Audiences and fans can get the most current list of the band’s tour dates, news, and more online at http://www.facebook.com/ladyantebellum and http://www.ladyantebellum.com.  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 Phi’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Hugh Laurie Live One Of The Year’s Most Surprising Live Recordings

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Actor Hugh Laurie is best known for his role as the title character on Fox’s former hit medical drama, House.  The show ran a total of eight seasons over the course of almost eight years.  With the show’s end in May of 2012, many were left wondering what was next for Laurie.  The answer:  Music.  Of course.  For whatever reason, television stars have a desire to be music stars and vice versa.  Sadly, so many of said celebrities fail in their endeavors.  Laurie, interestingly enough, is not among those numbers.  He now has two full length albums out and has just recently released a new live Blu-ray and DVD through Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The performance was recorded on March 26th, 2012 for broadcast on PBS.  This is revealed in the recording’s bonus interview.  This is just the beginning of what makes this performance so worth watching.  Audiences will also note Laurie’s humility throughout the performance.  It’s something that is echoed in his post show interview, too.  That humility makes him stand out among the sea of TV stars that think themselves music stars, too.  The set list chosen for the show seals the deal on this recording.  It includes a solid mix of blues classics from some of Laurie’s favorite blues musicians.  It all comes together to make Hugh Laurie: Live on the Queen Mary a surprisingly impressive release and one that any of Laurie’s fans will want to see.

Hugh Laurie’s new live Blu-ray and DVD, Hugh Laurie: Live on the Queen Mary is one of the most surprising live recordings of 2013.  One of the more interesting facts about this recording is that it was originally recorded for broadcast on PBS.  This is noteworthy because PBS typically releases its programming on its own.  It doesn’t normally use outside resources for distribution of its DVDs and Blu-rays.  So it would definitely be interesting to find out how Eagle Rock Entertainment worked out a distribution deal with PBS for this concert.    Given, it’s a minor detail.  But it’s still something that will catch the ear of any viewer and lead to discussions, whether one watches much of PBS’ programming or not.  One should also note that being that this performance was originally recorded for broadcast on PBS, it also serves as one more example of what makes PBS such a valuable asset for audiences, especially in today’s television market.

That this concert was originally recorded for PBS and distributed via Eagle Rock Entertainment makes for quite the starting point in any discussion and viewing of the concert.  That’s because PBS is known for quality programming.  Just as interesting is the performance put on by Laurie and his band mates in the Copper Bottom Band.  Anyone that had not heard either of Laurie’s new albums would never have suspected the level of talent or the humility presented by the former House star.  It would have been so easy for Laurie to let his ego get the better of himself and take center stage throughout the roughly ninety-minute set.  But he didn’t do that.  He did the exact opposite, letting the band members shine throughout each song instead.  When he did take the stage, his dry wit and musical talent made for plenty of enjoyable and funny moments.  His vocals were just as noteworthy as his wit.  That’s because the best way to describe his vocals would be as a hybrid of Randy Newman and Dr. John.  It’s something that has to be heard to be believed, especially for those that have not yet experienced Laurie’s talents.

The humility presented by Laurie in this concert is very real as audiences will see in the recording’s bonus post-show interview also recorded for PBS.  He openly touts the talents of the Copper Bottom Band members and how honored he was to be playing with them.  He even jokes about how excited he was to be playing with them despite his stereotypical British demeanor.  He goes on to discuss among other topics, how he grew up with a deep love and respect for classic blues and how that led to the current pair of albums that he has recorded.  That discussion yields even more laughs.  Yet again, it’s more display of his humility and respect for his craft.  It’s something that is rarely seen among celebrities that come to the music industry from other areas.  That rare display will echo with audiences and make them appreciate Laurie that much more as a true artist regardless of whether or not he should return to acting at a later point in his career.  And it will make audiences appreciate this new live recording that much more, too.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this release and other live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  More information on Laurie’s new album, live recording and upcoming live events is available online at http://www.facebook.com/HughLaurie.  Laurie is currently touring in support of his new album, Didn’t It Rain.  He will be performing at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC this Friday, November 1st at 8pm.  Tickets can be purchased for the show online at http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/0E004AF8A8DDDD19?brand=carolinathtr&camefrom=CFC_CTD_WEB.

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.

Caro Emerald In Concert Could Break Singer Out In America

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/BBC/Grand mono

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/BBC/Grand mono

The name Caro Emerald is one that is not largely familiar in the mainstream music world right now.  This is the case despite the Dutch singer having already released two full length studio albums since 2010.  But with the release of her new live DVD and Blu-ray, Caro Emerald in Concert, the young singer’s name may start to spread like wildfire.  That’s because the new live release from Eagle Rock Entertainment presents the best of those two albums in one complete concert.  It’s an excellent introduction to the talents of the young artist and her band mates.  The very first thing that audiences will notice in listening to the band music crafted by Emerald and her band mates is the band’s “jazz-hop” style.  For those that might be scratching their heads, it’s a mix of old school swing jazz mixed with the occasional modern hip-hop vibe.  Still confused?  Imagine mixing Adele, Amy Winehouse, Nelly Furtado, and the Squirrel Nut Zippers.  That is the interesting hybrid sound crafted by Emerald and her band mates.   Ironically enough, Emerald notes in the concert’s bonus interview that Amy Winehouse was indeed one of her influences.  That is something that will be discussed later.  Getting back to the music in this concert,  there is not one bad moment in the entire performance.  Every song in this concert has its own flare that is sure to have anyone dancing along in their own living rooms and bedrooms.  From the up-tempo opener, ‘Just One Dance’ to ‘Paris’ to the show’s closer, ‘Stuck’, Ms. Emerald and company prove over and over again why it won’t be long before they break out in the United States.

The songs included in the band’s new live recording show just why American audiences should expect to hear more from the unit provided program directors give the band the support that it deserves.  On a deeper level, the songs become even more interesting after listening to Caro discuss her musical upbringing in the recording’s bonus interview.  She explains in the interview that it was classical music, not pop music, on which she was raised as a child.  She laughs as she admits that she was hardly a fan of classical music.  This is interesting to note because of her vocal range.  She has such control over her voice from one song to another.  Whether in the performance’s softer moments or those that are more upbeat, she does such a wonderful job accenting the song’s energy level with her vocal control.  And as noted already, she adds during her interview that the late Amy Winehouse was one of her influences.  That is also evident in her singing.  There is a certain almost cabaret style vibe about some of her songs.  While not as gritty as Winehouse’s vocals, she still has such power in said songs.  It’s something that audiences can only appreciate when they check out this recording for themselves.

The set list and the performance presented in Caro Emerald in Concert both play important roles in the enjoyment of this recording’s overall presentation.  No examination of a live concert would be complete though, without an examination of the recording’s audio and video.  And this critic is pleased to say that those charged with managing the show’s audio and video mix did an excellent job.  Director Helen Scott got the best out of her camera crew, catching some amazing shots.  Those with HDTVs will love the wide shots of the BBC Radio Theatre.  They show just how “intimate” the setting was for the recording as was noted on the back of the disc’s case.  Just as interesting were the close-up shots captured by the videographer manning the stage.  Emerald comes right up to him more than once and looks right into the camera as she sings.  Again, having an HDTV, the quality of the footage is crystal clear.  Viewers can see every single detail of her face as she sings into the camera.  The audio mix is just as impressive.  Every part of the recording is balanced all the way down.  None of the performers overpower the other at any one point throughout the show.  Together with the expertly shot and edited video, the performance of the band and the show’s set list, it all combines to make Caro Emerald in Concert one more reason that Eagle Rock Entertainment continues to be a leader if not the leader in live recordings.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other live releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt and http://www.eaglerockent.com.  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.

Eagle Rock Holds The Bar Again With Mike And The Mechanics Live

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

2013 is almost over.  But that doesn’t mean that the good people over at Eagle Rock Entertainment are done given audiences more live releases.  Eagle Rock has proven once again why it continues to be the leader in live recordings in the release of Mike and the Mechanics & Paul Carrack Live at Shepherd’s Bush London.  This new live recording from the band best known for its work during the 80s gives audiences plenty of reason to be happy.  Eagle Rock has proven why live recordings can be just as good as being there if not better with this latest live recording.  That is because not only do audiences get the main concert, but they get some interesting bonuses that those in attendance at the show didn’t get.  Along with the primary show, audiences get in this recording a healthy compliment of the band’s original music videos from its heyday and an extensive interview.  These bonuses alongside the main concert feature make this recording a special experience for any fan of Mike and the Mechanics.

The main concert feature contained on this new live recording will impress any fan of Mike and the Mechanics.  As with so many other live recordings already released via Eagle Rock, the video and audio were expertly mixed.  The concert looks and sounds just as impressive whether one has just an HDTV or a full surround sound home theater system.  The band’s overall performance is just as impressive.  Considering that nearly three decades have passed since the band released its very first full length record, it’s impressive that the band still presents such a powerful on-stage presence.  Audiences at home will see that just as much as those that were in attendance at the show’s taping.  Even more worthy of note is the band’s set list.  The positive energy and lyrics of songs such as ‘Get Up’ and ‘Whenever I Stop’ are sure to have viewers at home singing and dancing along happily in their own living rooms and bedrooms.  Just as impressive is the energy shared between the audience and the band during the band’s performance of ‘The Living Years.’  Even in such a small venue, it has so much impact.  One can only imagine what that scene would look like on an arena level.  It’s just one more shining moment that audiences will want to watch again and again in this recording.  And it’s just one more part of what makes the recording as a whole another impressive release from Eagle Rock Entertainment.

The set list and overall performance of the band in the main concert feature are impressive to say the very least.  But they’re just the beginning of what makes this recording another impressive release from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  Audiences will appreciate just as much as the performance and set list, the music videos included as bonus content.  The performance of ‘The Living Years’ was powerful.  That goes without saying.  So suffice it to say that it was just as necessary to include the original music video for the song, too.  It’s accompanied by the original music videos for: ‘Silent Running’, ‘Word of Mouth’, ‘One Left Standing’ and a handful of others.  One might wonder why this is important to the overall presentation.  It is something important in that the only place to see music videos on television today is on VH1 every weekend on the network’s Top 20 Countdown.  Other than that, the only venue for music videos today is via YouTube.  So including them on this Blu-ray makes them true bonus content.  Rather than having to hunt around online for them, fans can just pop this disc into their DVD or Blu-ray player and watch them any time they want.  For that, those behind this recording are to be commended once more.

The bonus music videos are a nice addition to the overall presentation of the new live recording from Mike and the Mechanics.  The commendations don’t stop with the music videos, though.  The final touch to the overall presentation of this recording is the inclusion of a bonus interview with the band members.  Whether one is new to the band or a more seasoned fan, audiences will appreciate the bonus interview.  The history of the band is discussed at some length through the interview.  Also discussed is how the band came to decide on making this recording come to life among other topics.  It’s another nice touch and an equally nice final touch to an already enjoyable presentation for anyone that is a fan of Mike and the Mechanics.  The DVD and Blu-ray are available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Live BD Completes Sedaka’s U.K. Concert Experience

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

The newly released Blu-ray release of Neil Sedaka’s The Song Goes On: Live at the Royal Albert Hall is an excellent companion piece to its CD companion released in 2012.  The Blu-ray completes the concert experience started with the double-disc CD release in question.  It does so by giving audiences the visual recording that they otherwise had not had until now.  And Sedaka’s fans will most definitely appreciate getting to not just hear but see him perform so many of his hits.  The experience is completed not just through the main performance, but also through the bonus interview included with the new Blu-ray release of this concert.  The interview sees Sedaka sitting down one-on-one with fellow songwriter Paul Gambaccini.  The pair discusses Sedaka’s music, his career, and his influence in their in-depth interview.  It’s both insightful and entertaining as the men make their way through many of the songs featured in the main performance.  The main performance and the bonus interview do so much to make this new release a completion for fans of Neil Sedaka that had been hoping for a video companion to the already released CD recording of his performance from the U.K.  One can’t look at this new release (or any live release) without examining said performance’s audio and video mix.  Those charged with manning the boards both for the concert and for the final product put the finishing touch here on what is one more expert live recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision.

The Blu-ray companion to the audio release of Sedaka’s live performance from the Royal Albert Hall completes the concert experience started last year.  That’s because it is a video recording, and not just an audio recording.  Instead of just hearing the performance, audiences get the full effect of the concert with this presentation.  It allows viewers that were not there to make a full emotional connection both with Sedaka and with those that were in attendance for the taping.  One prime example of that ability to connect lies in Sedaka’s performance of ‘I Go Ape.’  The excitement and energy on Sedaka’s face as he channels Jerry Lee Lewis can be felt even just watching at home.  By direct contrast, the emotional depth of ‘The Hungry Years’ is sure to move even the strongest person to tears.  That’s thanks again to being able to not just hear the motion in Sedaka’s voice, but also to see it in his face.  One can tell that he really felt the music and the lyrics as he sang.  These are just a pair of examples of how the show’s recording makes this concert experience complete.  There are plenty more songs from which fans will be able to choose.  They’ll be able to do so when they pick up this new Blu-ray themselves.

The main performance included in Neil Sedaka’s new live Blu-ray is the main component of what makes the entire concert experience complete.  There is more to consider in what makes it complete, though.  Audiences will also appreciate the bonus interview between Sedaka and his songwriter friend Paul Gambaccini.  The in-depth interview sees the pair discussing Sedaka’s own career, his music, and his influence on today’s pop music culture.  Through the course of the interview, the pair shares some laughs when they bring up Sedaka’s history with Carol King.  There’s also a humorous moment shared in the discussion over the song, ‘Stairway to Heaven.’  Sedaka laughs as Gambaccini asks him wouldn’t he love to have Led Zeppelin’s royalty checks for the song, even though they are two entirely different songs.  That in itself raises another interesting discussion topic in the inability of songwriters to copyright song titles.  Apparently, songs themselves can have a copyright, but not a song title.  There is also a discussion on whether Neil would have the hungry years or the successful years.  This is one of the more insightful moments shared by Sedaka in his interview, and will definitely have audiences thinking.  Again, these moments and the interview as a whole collectively make the interview between the old friends make for one more way this Blu-ray makes Sedaka’s live performance from the Royal Albert Hall complete.

Sedaka’s live performance at the U.K.’s Royal Albert Hall is a complete experience now thanks to the main performance and the bonus interview between Sedaka and friend Paul Gambaccini.  There is still one more factor that fans and audiences should consider in the concert experience presented here.  That factor is the show’s audio and video mix.  Those charged with balancing both the audio and video are to be commended for the job that they did with the recording.  This applies both to the original live recording and the final post-produced product.  The audio and video presented here are just as impressive as any recording released by Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision.  Those with a surround sound home theater system will appreciate the mix just as much as those without one.  From the high notes to the low notes and everything in between, every song is crystal clear both in terms of its video and audio.  Along with the main performance and the bonus interview it brings everything full circle and makes this one more top notch live recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock and Eagle Vision is available online at http://www.eagle-rock.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock Keeps Raising The Bar With Prog Rock Supergroup’s New Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Eagle Rock Entertainment has done something to which few if any other record labels can do.  Somehow, some way, Eagle Rock Entertainment has managed to raise the bar over and over with each one of its new live releases.  It seemed like after 2012, there was no way that it could top itself.  Then 2013 came along and it inexplicably topped itself over and over again.  And now, it has done just that once more with the brand new release of Live in Tokyo from virtuosos Mike Portnoy (Ex-Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Transatlantic), Billy Sheehan (Talas, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth), Tony McAlpine, and Derek Sherinian (Planet X, Ex-Dream Theater, Platypus).  This new live release is one more incredible release from Eagle Rock that continues to prove why this company is at the front of the pack when it comes to live recordings.  And it’s now available on double-disc CD, DVD, and Blu-ray as well as digitally.

Whether one is a fan of Dream Theater, Planet X, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth, or even every one of the projects in which these top talents has ever taken part, this live recording is an absolute must for audiences on either side of the fence.  The ninety-minute plus performance covers material from each of the artists’ body of work.  It opens with a bang with the first movement of Dream Theater’s famed A Change of Seasons EP before seguing into the hit ‘Acid Rain’ from Portnoy’s Liquid Tension Experiment side project.  Both songs were the perfect choice to open the performance as they waste no time setting the tone for the rest of the night.  Regardless of which side one takes on the split between Portnoy and his now former brothers in Dream Theater, there is no denying that he hasn’t lost a single step since his decision to step out on his own. And if one were listening to these two songs without seeing that it wasn’t Liquid Tension Experiment or Dream Theater, they would instantly think it was both.  That’s the level of talent displayed not just by Portnoy, but by his band mates in this performance.

The opening pair of performances from this recording’s set list are incredible to say the least.  They’re just the tip of the iceberg as audiences will note.  Whether in the slower, more groove oriented ‘Stratus’, the manic energy of Sherinian’s own composition, ‘Apocalypse 1470 B.C.’ or another of Dream Theater’s hits, ‘Lines in the Sand’all four musicians on stage proved what makes them such highly respected individuals.  McAlpine and Sheehan may have never been members of Dream Theater, but they showed that they know Dream Theater’s catalogue.  Had John Petrucci and John Myung been in attendance, they would have been smiling.  The same can be said of Sherinian’s band mates from Planet X of Portnoy and company in ‘Apocalypse 1470 B.C.’  And the band’s take on composer Georges Bizet’s ‘Farandole’ is truly something to behold.  Collectively, these four men have crafted a show that is anything but a tribute band or cover band.  Rather, what they have done is crafted a show celebrating the other and their work.

The songs chosen for this performance present four musicians that are at the top of their game.  And the quality of the recording both on its visual and audio side is top notch, too.  The audio and video mix on the DVD and Blu-ray is perfectly balanced.  This is especially noteworthy being that this performance was recorded at an indoor venue.  Indoor venues present their own problems for recording even at a professional level because the sound is contained in such a finite space.  It could so easily cause the mix to become “muddy.”  But Simon Phillips and company overcame that boundary with ease both on the visual and audio side of the recording.  Those behind the cameras deserve just as much credit as anyone for capturing the concert.  The angles of the shots put home viewers right up in the drum throne with Mike Portnoy and alongside his band mates.  At other times, the wide angle crowd shots are just right in capturing the enjoyment of the audience.  Viewers can see the genuine appreciation of the audience in attendance for what each musician presented.  It serves to heighten the overall viewing experience even more.  And together with that expertly mixed video and audio, it all comes together to make Portnoy Sheehan McAlpine Sherinian Live in Tokyo one more bar higher set by Eagle Rock Entertainment, and a definite must for any fan of each member’s bands past and present.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.

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

Blackmore’s Rainbow Rocks In New Archived Live Show

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Eagle Rock Entertainment has built quite the reputation over the years as one of the leaders in live recordings.  Releases from the likes of Queen, The Rolling Stones, and even Slipknot and Stone Temple Pilots last year show why Eagle Rock has justifiably earned that reputation.  Already, Eagle Rock has maintained that reputation in 2013 with even more top notch live recordings already released and more on the way.  Among the most anticipated recordings to come are the likes of Dream Theater’s Live at Luna Park and The Rolling Stones’ Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live.  Getting back to already released live recordings, one of the most notable of Eagle Rock’s most recent live recordings released in 2013 is the newly released Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Black Masquerade.  This DVD recording was released just a couple of weeks ago.  And it’s one that was well worth the wait for any purist fan of rock and roll.

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Black Masquerade is a great live recording from the band’s post Ronnie James Die lineup.  It was originally recorded in 1995 at Dusseldorf’s famed Rockpalast TV series.  Considering that nearly two decades have passed since this concert was originally recorded, those responsible for uncovering the footage and transferring it to DVD are to be commended.  Both the audio and video quality of the concert is impressive to say the least.  They are both just as clear as they must have been in the show’s original recording if not better than said recording.  Director Gerd F. Schultze is deserving of credit here, too.  It was under Schultze’s watch that audiences catch the band’s nonstop energy and enjoyment from start to finish of the roughly ninety-minute-plus concert.

The quality of the footage in its transfer from tape to disc plays a big part in the success of this recording’s overall success.  It’s not all that audiences will appreciate here, either.  Just as much as fans will appreciate the quality of the show’s footage in its transfer, fans will also appreciate the performance itself.  Blackmore breezes through the show, exhibiting his abilities as both a modern guitarist and even as a classical guitarist.  He proves why he was still considered one of the industry’s most respected guitarists at the time as he made his way effortlessly through each song.  That’s not to say that he isn’t still considered one of the greats today.  It just serves to show that even after so many years with Deep Purple, there was still plenty of fire left in him at the time.  Suffice it to say that it is in its own way, a tribute to him and his abilities.  He isn’t the only member of the band that gets to shine in this concert, either.  Singer Doogie White is a fitting replacement for RJD.  His vocals soar with such power from one song to another.  And his interaction with both the band and the audience in attendance helps to build the show’s overall energy.  One would be remiss to ignore the talents of keyboardist Paul Morris and Chuck Burgi here.  Morris is right up there with the likes of Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) and so many others of that ilk in his performance.  And Burgi’s drumming is classic rock at its finest.  From his over the top outfit to his talents and showmanship, he plays his own part in bringing fans a memorable show.

The performance by the post RJD lineup of Rainbow is in itself more than enough to make buying or ordering this new DVD well worth it.  The talent of each member of the band shows true musicianship all the way around.  And the set list that spans both the Deep Purple and Rainbow catalogue adds another element of enjoyment to the show.  And then there is the quality of the footage in its transfer from tape to disc.  All of these aspects work hand-in-hand so to speak to make Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Black Masquerade one more impressive piece from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  There is one more factor to be considered in the presentation’s overall enjoyment.  It’s a factor to which most people don’t pay attention but should.  It is the included liner notes in the DVD’s bonus booklet.  Writer Jeff Katz puts it even better than this critic could have in the liner notes, that “what we see in this concert is a band firing on all cylinders.”  Katz goes into painstaking song-by-song detail in his liner notes, explaining why this recording was such an important performance to be unearthed.  In doing so, he explains to audiences that in examining this release, he had to look back at his own experiences in seeing Rainbow live in person.  Those ruminations do an excellent job of setting up his take on each song.  All together, his analysis is more than just an analysis.  It’s like a program for a rock concert.  Audiences can almost read each song’s notes as each song plays, and get a better understanding of each opus.  Together with the other mentioned factors to consider in this recording, it turns out to be the icing on the proverbial cake.  It makes the performance whole and all the more worth picking up now that it is available in stores and online.  It can be ordered from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DPH7QFM/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1CF1TH81AXSD69D1EDKF&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846.

For more information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment, audiences can go online to http://www.eagle-rock.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.

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

Eagle Rock’s One Night Only Re-Issue A Must For Any Bee Gees Fan

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision’s newly re-issued presentation of Bee Gees: One Night Only is another impressive recording from the two companies.  It is an impressive tribute to the memory of both Andy and Maurice Gibbs.  Audiences will appreciate this re-issue, which comes nearly a decade after its original release.  That take on the classic concert was also released by Eagle Rock Entertainment.  This latest re-issue boasts more than thirty songs spanning the group’s four-decade long career together.  There are those that have come down on Eagle Rock for this re-issue for being little more than a standard definition recording on a Blu-ray disc, thus making it not so much a real Blu-ray presentation.  But there is a chance that the previous DVD release might now be out of print.  Keeping that in mind, the upconverted footage looks as good as any performance originally recorded in high definition.  It sounds just as good, too.  If one takes this and the recording’s factors (I.E. guest performers and set list), one will end up agreeing that One Night Only is just as impressive in its re-issue as it was in its original DVD release was back in 2003.

One Night Only was originally recorded in 1997, only months before the death of Andy Gibb, brother to Maurice, Robin, and Maurice.  It would be another eight years before Maurice would join his brother.  So seeing all four brothers on stage at the same time in what was the Bee Gees’ only live show of that year (and first U.S. show in nearly a decade) made the performance all the more special of an experience.  The guest vocals by not just Andy Gibbs, but also by guest star Celine Dion also add their own charm to the already enjoyable show even more enjoyable.  And that the group would offers its audience at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas a definitive career-spanning performance puts the performance over the top.  Thirty-plus songs that span four decades is incredible.  Not many bands or performers can say that they had been around as long as the Bee Gees at the time of this recording.  And still few can say that even today.  The only band that can boast such an accomplishment at this point is perhaps The Rolling Stones.

It’s easy to just say of One Night Only how impressive it is because it covers so much of the Bee Gees’ career at that point.  Going into even more depth, the brothers and their band kick things off with a bang of sorts in the upbeat ‘You Should Be Dancing.’  Whether one is new to the music of the Bee Gees or not, this song is sure to get any viewer up off of their living room or bedroom furniture and dancing right in time.  From there the group pulls things back for a bit with a handful of touching ballads in the form of ‘Alone’, ‘Massachusetts’, and ‘To Love Somebody.’  The band as a whole balances its more upbeat sound with more reserved pieces throughout the course of its near two and a half hour performance.  The emotion of the pieces performed proves to the more uninitiated that this musical family was about more than just disco.  It shows to newer audiences just how talented the group was.  Of course, those that are more familiar with the band’s sound already knew that.

The expertly balanced set list and the general performance of the Bee Gees in this now modern classic performance work together to make One Night Only an excellent addition to the home library of any Bee Gees fan.  In response to those that have criticized it for being just a standard def show upconverted onto Blu-ray, one must keep in mind that Eagle Rock’s previous release of One Night Only/The Real Story might be out of print at this point.  Knowing what is known today about the ability of Blu-ray players to upconvert DVDs in playing them, the overall presentation (both in terms of video and audio) is just as clear as it would have looked had it originally been recorded in high definition.  And those lucky enough to own surround sound systems will attest to this, too.  Would it have been interesting to see a show recorded in full HD?  Most certainly it would have.  But this recording is no less impressive in place of such a recording.  It is the final piece of the puzzle that makes this entire presentation whole and a must have for any fan of these legendary brothers.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eagle-rock.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.

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

Eagle Rock Keeps Soaring With Santana’s Latest Live Release

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Montreux Sounds

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Montreux Sounds

Thank goodness for Carlos Santana.  And Thank goodness for Eagle Rock Entertainment.  This has been stated before already with the 2012 release of Carlos Santana: Greatest Hits Live at Montreux 2011.  Now Eagle Rock has finished what it started with the release of Santana’s performance that same year with fellow guitar legend John McLaughlin (The Mahavishnu Orchestra).  It has already been noted of seeing Carlos Santana and company live before that to see these musicians perform live is to not just see a concert.  Seeing Carlos Santana and his band mates live is to truly take part in a musical experience.  That applies in this brand new release just as much as in Eagle Rock’s previous live Santana Blu-ray.  The musical experience is just one portion of what makes Santana & McLaughlin: Live at Montreux 2011 such a joy for music aficionados.  Tied directly into the experience is the show’s set list.  Just as with Santana’s previous live release via Eagle Rock, this show’s set list feels more like one giant jam session than a specifically structured set list.  This is far better than anyone could realize.  And lastly, audiences with HDTVs will appreciate the clarity of the recording’s sound and picture.  Those with surround sound home theater systems will especially appreciate that clarity.  Together with the set list and the general performance, it is one more factor that reminds audiences why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leader of the pack in live recordings.

Taking in a performance of Carlos Santana and his band mates is more than simply taking in a performance from the highly talented musicians.  Taking in a performance of these individuals is taking in a full musical experience.  This is just as true in Santana & McLaughlin: Invitation to Illumination as it was on Carlos Santana: Greatest Hits Live at Montreux 2011.  It is incredible to see Santana and his band mates sharing the stage throughout the two-hour plus performance.  Unlike so many other bands out there today, Santana steps back on multiple occasions, allowing his band mates to get their fair share of time in the limelight.  Simply put, he not only talks the talk, but walks the walk, too.  Such humility, willingness to share the spotlight, and talent shows why Santana is still one of the greatest guitarists in modern music history.  Audiences that have not yet gotten to see Eagle Rock’s previous performance from Santana and company will be in awe at the talent of both drummers Dennis Chambers and Santana’s own wife, Cyndi Blackman Santana.  Blackman Santana’s skill with the sticks is unparalleled.  Watching her perform whether with the rest of the band or by herself on her drum solo is like watching controlled chaos.  By contrast, Chambers’ own performance behind his kit is the picture of talent and composure.  Chambers’ body language is one of someone that is entirely relaxed.  Yet his playing would seem otherwise.  It’s an amazing juxtaposition.  The band overall presents such talent throughout its performance. 

The band’s performance throughout the two-hour plus concert is the central point of the recording.  Also to be taken into consideration in the overall presentation is the show’s set list.  The set list for this concert was comprised largely of songs from the classic 1973 album, Love Devotion Surrender.  However, fans will also take note early on of the medley of songs including covers of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ and saxophonist John Coletrane’s ‘Peace on Earth’.  It even contains a cover of Albert Ayler’s ‘Our Prayer.’  The cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was the highest of highlights throughout the medley of tunes.  From the guitar work of both Santana and McLaughlin to David K. Matthews’ keyboards to every part in between, it is a cover that would make both Jimmy Page and Robert Plant proud if they see this performance.  The same can be said of the late John Bonham’s son, Jason, too.  While it’s a cover, one can’t help but think to one’s own self, which version is really better?  Zeppelin’s version or this updated take on the classic song?  That’s a tough call.  But what can be said is that it is just as good as the original, if not better.  It is an amazing point in the overall performance.  Audiences will of course each find their own moment that they will call their favorite.  This is just one of so many from which audiences will be able to choose.  And it’s just one of so many that make Invitation to Illumination such a joy for audiences of all ages.

The set list and the general performance work together with this new release to make it one of the year’s best live recordings.  There is one more factor that audiences should consider in examining what makes it one more expert release from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  That factor is the presentation’s audio and video mix.  The audio and video mix of this presentation is right on par with each live recording already released so far by Eagle Rock Entertainment this year.  Those with home theater surround sound systems and the ability to set the audio on their HDTVs to a music setting will especially appreciate this.  Those audiences will be entirely enveloped by the concert and see just why taking in a performance by Carlos Santana and his band mates is in fact not just taking in a performance, but being part of a true musical experience.  Santana & McLaughlin: Invitation to Illumination Live at Montreux 2011 is available now in stores and online.  Fans can keep up with the latest news and more from Carlos Santana online at http://www.santana.com and http://www.facebook.com/carlossantana

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.