May & Ellis’ Candlelight Concerts Recording Another Huge Hit For Eagle Rock

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Eagle Records

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Eagle Records

Eagle Rock Entertainment and its visual division, Eagle Vision, have been at the front of the line in live recordings in recent years thanks to releasing so many big, bombastic concerts on DVD and Blu-ray. So it goes without saying that Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts is quite the departure for Eagle Rock and Eagle Vision. That’s not a bad thing, either. While it features Queen guitarist Brian May alongside one of the most powerful voices in Broadway’s modern history, the references to Queen are kept to a minimum throughout the course of the concert. That is the most important factor in what makes this latest release from Eagle Rock and Eagle Vision so worth the time. Another reason that audiences will appreciate this new recording is its audio and video mix. The high quality video and audio mix (both on the Blu-ray and CD) maintain Eagle Rock and Eagle Vision’s long-held standard of releasing only the best quality concerts to audiences. And making everything complete for this latest recording is its packaging. Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts has been made available to consumers in a double-disc Blu-ray/CD combo pack in a single package. This allows audiences to take in the performance in whole without having to choose which one they would want more. It may be a slightly higher price. But in the long-term, it’s more cost effective for those wanting the full concert experience. All of the factors noted here make Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts yet another huge success from the leader in live recordings.

Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts is not a Queen concert. That’s not to say that there are no Queen songs featured throughout the course of the set’s CD and Blu-ray. As a matter of fact, some of Queen’s biggest hits including ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Somebody To Love’, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young)’ are part of the performance. But by and large, this performance features covers of other songs, and even a couple original tunes. One of the most powerful of the performance’s moments comes in Ellis’ cover of ‘The Way We Were.’ The song, made popular by singer/actress Barbara Streisand in the 1973 movie by the same name. As Ellis notes before performing her take on the song, it’s more commonly performed with a full orchestral backing, even in the movie’s soundtrack. It gains a whole new identity in this completely stripped down setting. On the other end of the spectrum, May and Ellis presented a stripped down song in ‘The Kissing Me Song’ that absolutely cries out for a full band setting. Any drummers and percussionists out there will agree with this drummer that there is a stunning polyrhythmic drum track just waiting to come out in this piece. One can even hear a tambourine part echoing in the background. Making the song even more interesting is that it is an original piece, instead of a cover. It would be interesting to see if the pair ever re-works the tune for a full band setting. Moving on, there is at least one more high point in this performance in terms of the show’s set list that audiences will appreciate. That last high point is the duo’s take on ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love.’ Despite being in a stripped down setting, it is just as enjoyable in this setting as on record. And experiencing the audience’s enthusiastic reaction to the song makes it all the more enjoyable for viewers watching it in their homes. It has just as much energy here as in any other setting. As enjoyable as this moment is, it isn’t the last of the show’s many high points. There are plenty more moments from which audiences will get to choose when they purchase or order the combo pack for themselves.

The set list chosen for this penultimate performance of May and Ellis’ “By Candlelight Tour” is central to the enjoyment of this recording. Those hoping for a stripped down Queen set will be sadly disappointed since it isn’t a Queen set. For those more open-minded, they will deeply appreciate the variety of songs included in the show. The songs would be nothing without the expert work of those behind the cameras and soundboard. Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision have maintained a high standard for their live recordings for some time. And this recording is no exception to that rule. The picture and sound are both crystal clear. And the angles used in the camera work expertly capture the emotion of both performers in the rather intimate setting. It adds so much depth to the overall presentation, making it even more worth checking out.

The set list and overall production values of Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts are both pivotal elements to the overall presentation of this recording. Both go hand in hand in making the whole thing worth the time and money. There is still at least one more element worth noting about this set. That aspect is the recording’s packaging itself. Eagle Rock, Eagle Vision, and Eagle Records have come together to make the set available to the masses not as separate release, but as one entire package. On the surface, this might drive up the price of the set a bit. But in the long run, it actually saves money and the time trying to decide which is more important. Eagle Rock is actually serving its customers by combining the CD and Blu-ray into a full double-disc set. What’s more, each of the two discs gets its own spot on either side of the Blu-ray’s case. That saves space and in turn, helps to keep the cost of the set down. And that combined with the show’s outstanding production values, and equally outstanding set list makes it one more huge success from the company that more than deserves the title of being the leader in live recordings.

Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Candelight-Concerts-Live-Montreux-Blu-ray/dp/B00I60VY56/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1396512611&sr=1-1&keywords=brian+may+kerry+ellis. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment, Eagle Vision, and Eagle Records is available online at http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt and http://www.eagle-rock.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’s Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert Re-Issue An Amazing Way To Finish Off The Year

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

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

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

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

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

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

Hungarian Rhapsody Is Queen’s Career Defining Performance

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Eagle Records

Eagle Rock Entertainment has done it yet again.  This is not a company that rests easily on its laurels.  Every live recording that the company has released this year has been just as good as or better than the previous.  And now with the year winding down, Eagle Rock has released what is one of its best releases so far this year in Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live in Budapest.

Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live in Budapest is Queen at its finest.  For any classic rock lovers and Queen fans in general, this new deluxe set is important not just for the performance itself but for what the performance meant.  It was a victory not just for Queen and for rock music as a whole, but it was a major turning point, politically speaking.  As Rhys Thomas writes in the liner notes of the set, “It was the first stadium show by a Western act to be held behind the ‘Iron Curtain.’”  Some might ask about that, why that is important.  It’s important because it represented the opening up of certain groups of individuals to Western influence of any kind.  It represented a political shift in that side of the world.  For Queen to be able to say it was the first band to do so had to have been an honor.

Having been invited as the first band to perform behind the ‘Iron Curtain’, the band showed its appreciation to the people of Hungary for the invitation as a whole with an absolutely amazing show.  The band’s energy spread throughout the Nepstadion throughout its more high energy pieces such as ‘Tear It Up’, Tie Your Mother Down’, and the show’s opener, ‘One Vision.’  And even in the concert’s more reserved moments such as ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’, Under Pressure’ and ‘I Want To Break Free’ received highly positive response from the audience in attendance.  They are of course, just a small sampling of everything that the band had to offer in its landmark performance.  The set list also includes the band’s perennial favorites, ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘We Are The Champions.’  There’s even a cover of ‘Tutti Frutti’ that exemplifies the band’s ability with other styles of music, too.  The first half of the song is a full-on acoustic cover, while the second half absolutely rocks out.  It shows the band’s abilities with other styles and will have audiences of any age moving and dancing in their own living rooms, bedrooms, and cars.

Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live in Budapest is stunning from the set list itself.  Every band has shows that every fan considers to be the band’s best.  With the case of this recording, there is no doubt that this performance is the band’s best.  Mr. Thomas is correct in writing in the accompanying liner notes that this performance is Queen at the top of its game.  There is something about the band’s performance that stands out from any of its others.  It could be the band’s energy.  It could be the response of the audience.  It could be both together.  Regardless, this performance is the prime performance from Queen.  Add in that Mr. Thomas also states in the liner notes that the band did this show although there was no profit to be made from it, and audiences gain a whole new respect for the band not just as musicians, but also as people.  It makes this performance that much more important in the career of Queen.  Needless to say it makes this concert that much more of a career defining performance.  Sure, that term is thrown about a lot with musical acts.  But there can be no argument about it with this performance.

Nearly three decades have passed since this performance was originally recorded.  In that time, the importance of the concert hasn’t been lost on its audiences both for its set list and for what it meant to the world.  For home audiences it will mean even more considering the quality of the footage transfer from its original 35mm format to Blu-ray and CD.  Both the video and audio qualities of this performance are just as impressive as the set list and its energy combined.  Again, thanks to Eagle Rock, audiences can enjoy that high quality transfer as it has been put to both a double-disc CD set and single-disc Blu-ray in a complete triple disc Deluxe set that’s available both in stores and online now.  For the Queen fan in anyone’s house, it can be ordered direct online at Eagle Rock Entertainment’s website, http://www.eagle-rock.com.

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.

New Documentary Shows Freddie Mercury In A New Light

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Queen fans all know Freddie Mercury as the front man of the iconic British rock band.  But how many people out there know that Mercury actually worked on projects outside of Queen?  Early this year, Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision released a documentary titled, “Days of Our Lives.”  That documentary very briefly touched on Mercury’s time away from Queen.  Now, fans get a whole new look on Mercury’s other work with the new documentary, “Freddie Mercury:  The Great Pretender.”

“Freddie Mercury:  The Great Pretender” presents not just Freddie Mercury as a solo artist, but as a person.  Audiences will learn through archived interviews with Freddie, his band mates in Queen, and others who knew him, a side of Freddie that perhaps few audiences might have known.  One of the most interesting facts that audiences learn from this documentary is that Freddie originally had no intention of being a rock star.  He admits in an archived interview, that he originally was going to be a graphic artist.  Or as he called it, a graphic illustrator.  One only knows what would have become of Queen had that happened.  This is just the tip of the iceberg in this brand new release.  Something that audiences will really be in awe of is Freddie’s love of the cultural arts.

Interviews with Freddie and those who knew him reveal that Freddie became a big fan of opera during his life.  It’s fitting that he would.  His voice always came across in that very theateric and operatic style.  He was never really a rock singer.  So when he started singing with opera great Montserrat Caballe, the result was definitely a far cry from what audiences might have expected.  Surprisingly though, his work with Caballe was actually very impressive from the angle of studying opera.  As one of the individuals interviewed for this feature noted, if not for Freddie Mercury, the name of Monterrat Caballe would have been known only to audiences of opera.  It was Mercury that brought her to such popularity.  That alone says quite a bit about Freddie Mercury’s influence.

One other note that stands out in this documentaryis Freddie Mercury the on-stage persona versus Freddie Mercury the man.  The vocalist of any band is typically charged with the duty of being a larger than life personality in order to engage the band’s audience.  What makes this important is that while he noted in one breath how much he loved being in this position, Freddie was also quite the private person offstage.  He notes in his interviews that he stayed mostly to himself when he was offstage.  that juxtaposition of his two different personas is so intriguing.  It’s just one more piece of what makes this new documentary so enjoyable and enlightening for Queen’s fans.  “Freddie Mercury:  The Great Pretender” offers plenty more for audiences in its near ninety minute run tim.  There are also bonus interviews to add even more depth to who this icon really was.  “Freddie Mercury:  The Great Pretender”  is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online at http://www.eagle-rock.com.

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.