Parents, Children Alike Will Love “Love Bug”

Courtesy:  Rounder Records

Courtesy: Rounder Records/Shoreline Records

Veteran children’s entertainer Raffi has been one of the most well-known and respected artists within both his genre and the music industry in whole for near four decades. He has of course also been the butt of some jokes here and there. The reason for both of these scenarios is actually a good one. The reason in question is that throughout the course of his career, Raffi (whose real name is Raffi Cavoukian) has constantly re-invented his sound on every one of his records. His latest release Love Bug is no exception to that rule. Love Bug presents a decidedly country/folk sound throughout the course of its sixteen songs. Though later in the album’s run, Raffi also includes a fun little reggae style piece in ‘Cool Down Reggae’ and a somewhat gospel-tinged piece in the album’s bonus closer ‘Turn This World Around.’ This is an especially enjoyable piece because a close listen reveals a comparison to Peter Gabriel’s anti-apartheid song ‘Biko.’ Given, the stylistic and lyrical similarities might not have been entirely intentional. But they are there. And they are welcome, too. They make the song one of the album’s best pieces if not the best of the album’s available selections. Along with the likes of ‘Cool Down Reggae,’ the short but still fun instrumental Pete’s Banjo,’ and the album’s other songs not noted here, this record proves once again why Raffi is still one of the music industry’s most respected artists to this day.

Raffi has remained one of the top names in both children’s music and the music industry in whole for nearly four decades. The reason being that he has constantly re-invented his sound on every one of his new studio releases. Love Bug, his latest full-length studio effort, is no exception to that rule. The album is dominated largely by a country/folk sound. While that country/folk sound is the album’s most prominent sound, he also branches out some and includes a reggae piece in the aptly titled ‘Cool Down Reggae.’ This piece is a complete change of pace from the rest of the songs that make up the body of Love Bug. This song will have parents and children alike relaxing and jamming along as Raffi sings, “In the rhythm of the jangily day/Time for enjoyment/In the sway of the come and go/So nice to take it slow/With the cool down reggae/Slow down reggae/ Cool down reggae/Slow down reggae.” Even without the steel drums, this song still works and is a welcome change of pace from the rest of the album’s songs. It definitely makes for one of the highest of points on this record. Another of those high points comes in the album’s gospel-tinged closer ‘Turn This World Around.

‘Turn This World Around’ is considered a bonus addition to Love Bug. This means that for all intents and purposes that it is not technically the album’s closer. Regardless of which side one takes on that issue, everyone can agree that it stands out more than any other song included as part of the album’s whole. A close listen to this song reveals a close stylistic similarity to Peter Gabriel’s famed anti-apartheid anthem ‘Biko’ both musically and lyrically. ‘Biko’ is about black anti-apartheid leader Stephen Biko. Biko rose to fame as the head of the Black Consciousness Movement in the 1960s and ‘70s. ‘Turn This World Around’ on the other hand, is not about a specific individual but rather the world needing to make social change for the next generation. While ‘Turn This World Around’ isn’t as anthemic as ‘Biko’ lyrically speaking, it still very much maintains that same social sensibility within its lyrical content. That is noted as Raffi sings, “Honoring the children is what we’re here to do/Now is the hour/And we’ve got the power/To turn, turn, turn/Turn this world around/For the children/Turn this world around.” When he wrote ‘Biko,’ Gabriel had very much the same mindset. He wrote about ending apartheid for the sake of the present and the future. Raffi’s song is broader. But it also discusses making sweeping social changes for the present and future, too. Such a powerful social message coupled with an equally enjoyable musical backing easily makes this song the best moment by far from Love Bug.

‘Turn This World Around’ is the most memorable of moments off of Love Bug. Its mix of social consciousness and equally enjoyable music a la Peter Gabriel is to thank for that. Just as enjoyable for audiences is the laid back sound and vibe of ‘Cool Down Reggae.’ As enjoyable as both sounds are collectively, one would be remiss to omit the obvious country/folk sound that largely dominates this record. And one of the best of those country/folk songs featured in this record is the instrumental ‘Pete’s Banjo.’ This song boasts a fun, old school Appalachian style sound that will have children and their parents dancing together with its simple banjo picking and fiddle playing. It conjures thoughts of an old mountain country store where people would gather to talk and sometimes even dance. And even at only two minutes and fourteen seconds long, it is no less enjoyable. If anything, it makes a person yearn for even more of that old mountain sound. There is a little bit more of said sound peppered throughout the record, too. Audiences will hear it for themselves when they pick up this album for themselves or order it online. They will hear that and much more for that matter. In hearing the album in whole, audiences will understand for themselves why after so many decades, Raffi remains more than deserving of being called one of the best in his genre and in the industry in whole.

Love Bug is available in stores and online now. Raffi already has a pair of live dates scheduled for the new year where audiences will get to hear the songs from Love Bug and from Raffi’s rich body of work. He will perform live in Seattle, WA on January 31st at 1pm and in Portland on February 1st.  He has two performance times on that date.  He is scheduled to perform at 1pm and 4pm on that day. Parents can find out when his next live dates are and keep up with all of his latest updates online now at:

Website: http://www.childhonouring.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Raffi.Cavoukian

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Otherwise Starts Recording Process For Its Latest LP

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Las Vegas based hard rock band Otherwise has entered the studio to start work on its latest album.

Peace at All Costs will be the band’s second full length release for Century Media Records and third overall full length release. It is being produced by Grammy Award-winning producer David Bottrill (Tool, Flaw, Muse, Stone Sour, Godsmack, Staind, Peter Gabriel) in Las Vegas at Audio Mix House and Vegas View Recording Studios. Front man Adrian Patrick discussed bringing Bottrill on board to man the boards for this record and how much it means to have him on board for the record’s creation. “We’ve always felt different from other bands; not just as performers but as people also,” he said. Being in the studio with an elite producer like David Bottrill, knowing his impressively diverse resume and discerning taste in the artists he chooses to work with, only reinforces our resolve. Our next album, “Peace at All Costs,” will prove what we are capable of.”

The band will take a short break from working on its album next Saturday, April 12th as it is scheduled to take part in Orlando, Florida’s annual Earthday Birthday Festival.

George Cappellini, Sr. (Former VP of Promotion for Geffen Records and VP of Rock Promotion for Elektra Records) co-manages Otherwise. He was very excited in talking to the press about the past, present, and future of Otherwise. “I wanted to work the band to radio after hearing “Soldiers” on Octane,” he said. Fast forward two years later after 200+ shows, two Top 20 Singles, and now being a part of the management team, this band has grown into a powerhouse right before our eyes. You will all hear that on their sophomore album.”

Century Media Records head Robert Kampf has already had a listen to some of the material that fans will get to hear later this year. He put in the simplest terms what he thought of what he heard. He told reporters, After hearing the demos for the new album, OTHERWISE is going to be the future of rock, period.”

All of the latest developments on Peace at All Costs, any new tour dates and more from Otherwise is available online at http://www.weareotherwise.com/home, http://www.facebook.com/otherwiseofficial, and http://twitter.com/weareotherwise. 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.

Hackett Announces New Live Box Set, Tour Details

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Veteran musician Steve Hackett will release a new live box set this Fall.  The new live set, Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith will be released on Monday, October 21st worldwide, and Tuesday, October 29th in the United States via InsideOut Music.  It will be comprised of three compact discs and two DVDs.  The full set was recorded at London’s Hammersmith Apollo on May 10th, 2013.  The recording of the sold out performance features guest performances from Nik Kershaw, John Wetton, Jakko Jakszyk, and Steve Rothery.  It is being released in connection with the return of Hackett’s Genesis Revisited Tour to Europe and the UK for a second run.  The second run is thanks to critical acclaim from critics and audiences alike.

Hackett shared his thoughts on the upcoming live box set in an interview about the release.  He talked about the 5.1 surround sound audio mix on the performance’s DVD portion and the equally impressive audio mix on the companion CD’s in his interview.  “The 5.1 DVD with stereo CD out on 21st October including the whole show from Hammersmith Apollo is a feast for all the senses,” he said.  I was blown away by the fantastic response to those May UK gigs. The autumn Genesis Revisited shows will include different Genesis material to before as well as all the big faves that bring the house down…See you all soon!”

The full track listing for Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith is available below.

CD1
1. Watcher of the Skies
2. The Chamber of 32 Doors
3. Dancing with the Moonlit Knight
4. Fly on a Windshield
5. Broadway Melody of 1974
6. The Lamia
7. The Musical Box
8. Shadow of the Hierophant
9. Blood on the Rooftops

CD2
1. Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers
2. In That Quiet Earth
3. Afterglow
4. I Know What I Like
5. Dance on a Volcano
6. Entangled
7. Eleventh Earl of Mar
8. Supper’s Ready

CD3
1. Firth of Fifth
2. Los Endos

DVD1 
Full live show

DVD2 
Behind the scenes featurette

A full listing of Hackett’s most current tour dates is available online at his official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Steve-Hackett/123101228589 and at his official website at http://www.hackettsongs.com.  Fans can also stay up to date with all of the latest Steve Hackett news via Twitter at http://twitter.com/HackettOfficial.

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New Peter Gabriel Documentary Good For New And Longtime Fans

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Peter Gabriel has made a career of making some of the music industry’s most well known and respected music.  That’s been the case for nearly five decades.  Whether during his time in the legendary prog-rock band, Genesis or on his own, Gabriel has had nothing but success throughout his career.  Now one of his most classic albums has gotten its own documentary, telling how it came to be.  That album is his 1986 album, So.

So has become one of Peter Gabriel’s finest and most well known records thanks to hits such as ‘Red Rain, ‘Sledgehammer’, ‘Don’t Give Up’ and even a song that would make its way to the soundtrack of John Cusack’s movie, Say Anything in the form of ‘In Your Eyes’ just to name a handful of tracks.  This new documentary, which is part of the “Classic Albums” series, takes a look at those songs and others from So, and how each came to life.  It’s a good starting point both for any novice audiophile and a good look back for any experienced Peter Gabriel fan.  It culls interviews with the likes of drummer Manu Katche and Tony Levin (King Crimson) among others to tell just how much work went into the creation of So.  Levin shows some of his bass licks on camera.  Just watching this fellow legend pull off said licks is amazing.  The way in which he moves his hands across his instrument will leave any viewer watching these moments again and again.

One of the highlights of this documentary comes in the discussion over the album’s biggest hit, ‘Sledgehammer.’  The anecdotes shared about this song are both enlightening and entertaining.  They are just a portion of the material that real long time Peter Gabriel fans will find interesting in this near hour long documentary.  Even for those who are new to the music of this legend, the material offered in this release is impressive as it makes for a good starting point for said individuals.  The bonus material included in both the DVD and Blu-ray presentation adds even more to the overall viewing experience as well.  Whether on DVD or on Blu-ray, audiences will get the same presentation, leaving no one and nothing out.  Here fans of Peter Gabriel have one more reason to check out this new release, which is available now in stores and online. It makes for one more great gift idea for the music lover in any home.  It can be ordered online direct via the Eagle Rock Entertainment website, http://www.eagle-rock.com

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No “Secret” Here; Secret World Live Re-Issue Is A Must For Peter Gabriel Fans

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

It goes without saying that Peter Gabriel is one of the most iconic figures in modern music history.  Both as a solo artist and as a member of Genesis, Gabriel has more than carved his own place in the music business.  He has performed countless concerts around the world during his career.  And one of the greatest of those concerts would have to be his 1994 concert in Modena, Italy during his “Secret World Live” tour.  That show was originally released on VHS that same year.  It was re-issued on DVD by Interscope Records nearly a decade later.  Now, nearly another decade later, that classic concert has been re-issued once more thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision. 

Nearly two decades have passed since Secret World Live was originally released on VHS.  Since that time, the footage has stood the test of time quite well.  And thank goodness it did.  This show is an example of everything that is right with live shows.  The quality of the footage is a little bit grainy, given.  But considering how much worse it could have been that quality gives this re-issue sort of a nostalgic feel.  And the show itself was more than just a show.  Rather than just having a band on-stage performing, Gabriel’s Secret World Live was an actual stage production.  From the opening of the show, audiences are treated to what is a concert experience, not just a concert.  Gabriel’s use of the telephone in the show’s opener, ‘Come talk With Me’ was a nice touch.  And the addition of Paula Cole on backing vocals was an added bonus.  Musically, the two made for a great combination.

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Gabriel followed up ‘Come Talk To Me’ with another of his major hits, ‘Steam.’  The song by itself is a great song.  The addition of the “steam” during the choruses made the song that much better. As minute as this might have been in the grand scheme of things, it was one more part of what is a great concert experience.  Along with the use of the “steam” during the song, the band utilized every single bit of the stage for the music itself.  Audiences who have never seen this performance before will love seeing how the band switches back and forth between the larger circular stage and the smaller “back” stage.  How it’s done won’t be given away.  But as a hint, it’s almost “magical” (hint hint) how it’s done.  As with the already noted aspects, this one adds its own element of enjoyment to the full concert experience.

As the show closes, there is one more aspect that makes the show that much more amazing.  In this case, it’s not from the band, but from the fans themselves.  As Gabriel and company perform ‘In Your Eyes’, the audience in attendance pulls out their lighters, (yes lighters, not cell phones.  That’s a sign of the times, huh) and proceeds to turn them on and off.  The cameras capture the effect as the lighters glimmer like stars in the arena, all the while Gabriel and the band performing.  It is perhaps one of the concerts most powerful moments.

The show put on by Peter Gabriel and the entire band in Secret World Live makes it one of the best true concert experiences in recent memory.  The stage show alone didn’t make the show, though.  The show’s set list is loaded with amazing songs, including the ones already listed.  Along with the aforementioned songs, fans will also enjoy ‘Blood of Eden’, ‘Kiss that Frog’, ‘Solsbury Hill’, ‘Digging in The Dirt’, and perhaps his biggest hit of all, ‘Sledgehammer.’  For those who have picked up Gabriel’s “Live Blood” double disc concert that was released earlier this year, Gabriel’s rendition of ‘Digging in The Dirt’ in the “Secret World Live” show was far better than in the orchestral show.

So much more could be noted as to what makes this re-issue of “Secret World Live” so enjoyable.  But fans would be best served to experience it all for themselves.  “Secret World Live” is available now on DVD and blu-ray 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 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.

Live Blood a treat for true music lovers

Rock and classical are as different in the musical world as Felix Unger and Oscar Madison from The Odd Couple.  Yet when the two come together, they have shown to make some of the most memorable live experiences in modern music history.  That’s been exemplified by the likes of both Metallica and KISS.  Now, fellow music veteran Peter Gabriel has shown just how powerful classical and mainstream music can be together with his upcoming new live release on Eagle Rock Entertainment/RealWorld, “Live Blood.”

“Live Blood” takes the orchestra formed for Gabriel’s most recent studio album, “New Blood” out to a live setting.  “New Blood” was the second in a series of albums in which he and other artists re-interpreted each others’ songs.  The first of those albums was the album, “Scratch My Back.”  This new live performance of the New Blood orchestra  does an amazing job of giving the songs from “Scratch My Back” and “New Blood” a whole new life of their own.  The concert’s first disc offers up much of the more emotional sounds of the two albums, while the second disc in the set tends to pick things up just a little bit.  The opener to the entire concert, ‘Intruder’ is a prime example of just how impressive this new live release is.  The tension in the song makes it feel like it could have come right off of a horror movie soundtrack.  ‘Digging’ in The Dirt’ has a similar feel.  There’s also the joyous emotion expressed in ‘Solsbury Hill.’  The gleeful hopping of the string sections really emphasize and compliment the happiness Gabriel expresses lyrically.

The performance’s up-tempo pieces aren’t all that stand out in this set.  The covers of Lou Reed’s ‘The Power of The Heart’ and The Magnetic Fields’ ‘The Book of Love’ are even more impactful in this live setting than even on “Scratch My Back.”  Again, the new Blood Orchestra gives these songs a whole new depth of emotion, with its dynamic contrasts.  The same especially applies with Gabriel’s major hit, “Biko.”  “Biko” is given not only a whole new life, but an entirely new identity in this performance.  The message is even more powerful than it could have ever been in its original studio release.  Conductor Ben Foster and the entire New Blood Orchestra are to be commended for their work throughout the entire performance.  Whether on the songs noted or the remainder of the songs that comprise the upcoming double disc set, the entire New Blood orchestra was the real star of this performance.  This show was one more reminder that while rock and classical may be two entirely musical genres, when the pair come together, they make for some truly enjoyable and memorable songs.

Fans in Germany and the United Kingdom will get an added bonus with Peter Gabriel next month.  He currently has a handful of European dates planned throughout Germany and the U.K. throughout May.  To keep up with all of Peter Gabriel’s latest tour dates and news, fans can follow him online at http://www.petergabriel.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PeterGabriel, and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/itspetergabriel.