“Irish Tour ’74” Is An Excellent Re-Introduction To Rory Gallagher

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Rory Gallagher is probably not the first name that most people would come up with when they are asked to name some of the most well-known guitarists in music’s modern history. While he may not be one of the most well-known musicians to have ever picked up a guitar, the artists with whom he recorded and performed in his short career are legendary. Muddy Waters and Jerry Lee Lewis were just a couple of acts that he recorded with during his career. He also performed and recorded with former members of the famed Yardbirds after that band’s initial disbanding. And that is just a small sampling of his achievements from his career. Now thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, a whole new generation of rock purists is being introduced to Gallagher’s talents thanks to the recent release of his Irish Tour ’74 archived live recording. The archived concert was released in a special deluxe 2-CD edition on October 21st. And it goes without saying that there is a lot to like about this recording especially for those that might not be so familiar with Gallagher and his body of work. The most obvious thing to like about the recording is the recording’s set list. The special double-disc CD set focuses primarily on Gallagher’s shows from Cork, Ireland on January 5th, 1974. It is a great piece of music history especially for those that aren’t so familiar with Gallagher and his body of work. The concert’s audio mix in this presentation is another aspect that audiences will like. Four decades have passed since the shows from Gallagher’s ’74 tour. And the audio has stood the test of time quite well, as audiences will note here. Rounding out the package is its companion booklet. The companion booklet comes with never before published pictures and new liner notes. Each factor noted here makes Irish Tour ’74 enjoyable in its own right. Together, they make this recording a welcome and important piece of music history.

Irish-born blues-rock guitarist Rory Gallagher was one of the most well-kept secrets in the music industry during the course of his short life. He recorded roughly twelve studio albums over the course of his career. Those albums have sold well over thirty million copies worldwide. For such impressive numbers, Gallagher never gained the international super stardom of his British and American counterparts at the time. But as audiences will hear in the set list contained on Eagle Rock’s double-disc release Irish Tour ’74 Gallagher was and still is deserving of far more credit and acclaim than he has ever received. The blues rock sounds presented in the show’s set list echo hints of Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers Band, The Doobie Brothers, and so many other great names within rock’s blues-based sub-genre. One could even argue that there are hints of Jimi Hendrix in his playing. That is evident right off the top in his performance of ‘Messin’ With The Kid.’ Audiences can hear both Hendrix and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page in this song. Lou Martin’s frantic work on the keyboards and Rod De’ath’s drumming set against Gallagher’s guitar playing make this song an explosive opener and an equally explosive first impression for those that are hearing Gallagher’s music for the first time. Audiences will also appreciate the comparison to George Thorogood (and to a lesser extent Lynyrd Skynrd) that can be made in ‘Hands Off.’ The song’s straight forward 4/4 blues-rock vibe will have any listener jamming out regardless of their familiarity with Gallagher’s music. The mini-tribute to the Andrews Sisters in the opening of ‘Who’s That Coming’ is by itself a great touch. The song’s simple stylistic comparison to The Allman Brothers Band and even The Doors makes the song even more enjoyable for audiences. Yes, one could even make a comparison between Gallagher and The Doors. That says quite a bit about Gallagher’s talents. Listening to the rest of the songs that make up this two-disc recording, audiences will find other comparisons. In making such comparisons, it reveals even more Gallagher’s level of talent. One can only hope that the end result will be a resurgence in the popularity of his music.

The set list that makes up Irish Tour ’74 presents Gallagher as a truly talented musician. The same can be said of his band mates in these concerts. It makes one wonder why he never gained the level of fame as his counterparts despite his albums selling some thirty million copies worldwide. Perhaps this recording will help push him to that stratosphere on which his counterparts in question rest to this day. The set list itself more than makes this recording a great re-introduction to Gallagher’s works. Without a solid audio mix the recording would be nothing. Luckily though, the tapes on which these shows were originally recorded have stood the test of time quite well. The audio levels are expertly balanced in their re-mastering. The end result there is that no one part overpowers the other at any one point throughout the course of the recording. Yet again, it is proof of why Eagle Rock Entertainment remains to this day the leader in live recordings. Whether the recording be from a world renowned superstar or someone lesser known such as Gallagher, Eagle Rock Entertainment releases only the best possible recordings. It does not release recordings with inferior production values. Such expertly handled production values will make taking in Gallagher’s music all the more enjoyable and play even more of a role in re-igniting his fame.

The production values of Irish Tour ’74 and the recording’s set list are both key to the overall success of this latest archived concert. The two elements together make this recording an excellent way to re-introduce Rory Gallagher to the world. The recording is rounded out with the inclusion of a companion booklet loaded with extras. The companion booklet boasts sixteen pages of previously unpublished photos from Gallagher’s Irish tour and new liner notes outlining the tour’s highlights. Among the most interesting of the liner notes are notes concerning his performance in the worn torn region of Belfast. There are notes about his impact on that region and his influence as a musician overall during his career and much more included in the liner notes. It is one more important piece of the whole that makes Irish Tour ’74 such a wonderful re-introduction for Gallagher to the world. Together with the show’s set list and its exception production values, it becomes all the more valuable for any rock and roll purist and fan of classic rock. It becomes a recording that regardless of one’s familiarity with Gallagher and his body of work, any rock purist will enjoy. It could even lead said purists to become new fans or new fans again of Rory Gallagher.

Irish Tour ’74 is available now in stores and online. Along with its double-disc CD presentation, it is also available as a special eight-disc box set containing all four of Gallagher’s performances on his 1974 tour of Ireland and even more bonuses and even a triple gate fold vinyl for all the vintage rock fans. The triple gate fold vinyl re-issue can be ordered online at http://www.recordstore.co.uk/recordstore/recordstore/Irish-Tour-74-Expanded/3JHU0000000. More information on this and other releases from Rory Gallagher, as well as the latest news from Rory Gallagher, is available online at:

Website: http://www.rorygallagher.com

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

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.

All That Remains Announces Release Date For New Album

Photo Credit:  Justin Borucki

Photo Credit: Justin Borucki

All That Remains don’t have long to wait for the band’s new album.

The band recently announced that The Order of Things, its seventh full-length studio recording, will be released February 24th via Razor & Tie Records. Audiences can get a hint of what’s to come right now as the band has leaked one of the album’s songs online already. Fans can check out ‘No Knock’ online now via the band’s official website. The band has tapped Josh Wilbur to man the boards for this record. Having Wilbur on board to produce the record means that most of the recording process will take place in Massachusetts, while the fine tuning will be done in Los Angeles. Wilbur’s credits include albums from the likes of Lamb of God, Gojira, and Hatebreed.

ATR’s most recent album was 2012’s A War You Cannot Win. The album debuted at #13 on the Billboard Top 200. It garnered two hit singles–‘Stand Up’ and ‘What If I Was Nothing.’ ‘Stand Up’ made its way to the #1 spot on the Active Rock radio chart. That was a first for the band. ‘What If I Was Nothing’ was close behind, making its way all the way to the #2 spot on the same chart.

Pre-orders for The Order of Things will be available soon as will announcements regarding tour dates and more new music from the album. Audiences can keep up with all of that online at:

Website: http://www.allthatremainsonline.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/atrhq

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.

History’s “Definitive WWI & WWI Collection” Is A Must For Any History Buff

Courtesy:  History Channel/A&E Home Video

Courtesy: History Channel/A&E Home Video/Lionsgate

The world stopped this year to mark two of the most important dates in not only military history but in the history of the world.  Those two dates are June 28th, 1914 and September 1st, 1939.  On June 28th, 1914, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo, Bosnia, leading to the start of what is today known as WWI.  This past June marked the one hundredth anniversary of that fateful event.  And seventy-five years ago on September 1st, 1939, Hitler and the Nazi forces invaded Poland.  That invasion was the beginning of what would eventually become World War II.  As a way to recognize those anniversaries, History Channel released a new pair of documentaries this year in the forms of 100 Years of WWI and 75 Years of WWII.  These two documentaries are the latest in a long series of WWI and WWII-centered features that History Channel started releasing five years ago in 2009.  Five years ago, History Channel released Patton 360 to the masses.  That presentation was followed up with a number of documentaries that ultimately culminated this week with the release of The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection.  This brand new twenty-disc collection culls together Patton 360 with six previously released WWI and WWII-centered documentaries for a collection that more than deserves its title.  That collection of documentaries is the center of the set’s success and enjoyment.  The breadth of information shared throughout the course of those programs makes the collection even more worth the watch by any history buff and specifically military history buff.  Completing the box set is its packaging.  Considering that the set is spread across a total of twenty-discs, one might think the box would be rather bulky.  The reality is that History Channel has done quite the impressive job of packing the set without making it too bulky.  That will be discussed later.  But together with the collection of documentaries and their collective information, it helps make The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection a *ahem* definite must have for any history buff and military history buff.

History Channel’s new multi-disc collection of WWI and WWII documentaries that is The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection is a must have for any true history buff and military history buff specifically.  The main reason for this is the mass of material that makes up the box set.  No fewer than seven different programs centered on WWI and WWII (mainly on WWII) make up the total of the collection.  Those programs are: WWII in HD, WWII From Space, 100 Years of WWI, 75 Years of WWII, The Color of War, Patton 360, and History’s most recent mini-series/documentary The World Wars.  Each program is presented in its entirety.  The catch is that the discs have been scattered through the two boxes for some reason.  It’s possible that the reason for that is an attempt to correlate the topics covered in each disc.  That would be the most feasible explanation.  So audiences should expect that ahead of time.  It doesn’t mean that audiences can’t re-arrange the discs together.  But each series and program is presented in its entirety regardless.  And that in itself is itself a huge bonus for any lover of history and military history.  It offers a total of nearly forty-five hours of content that is just as useful in the classroom as the living room.  That’s about a whole year’s worth of military history, just putting it into perspective.  That mass of material is in itself another reason that lovers of history and military history specifically will appreciate this brand new box set.

History Channel offers in The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection nearly forty-five hours of content.  That is a lot of content.  The content specifically covers so many different angles of World War I and II.  Audiences learn in 100 Years of WWI how simple farm machinery was the basis for the very first tanks.  They also learn about the dangers and effects of chemical warfare on both sides as said warfare was developed.  It definitely was anything but perfect at that point.  The WWII-centered programs and documentaries are just as enjoyable.  WWII in HD is one of the most in-depth programs centered on WWII that has been released in at least the last ten years.  It covers WWII from every possible angle, including first-hand accounts from documents written by those that were swept up in the war.  The Color of War is a good complimentary piece to WWII in HD as it focuses mainly on the color footage that was available from WWII.  Patton 360 is just one part of History’s WWII 360. It offers audiences a look not just at Patton but at his adversaries and what made them such tough opponents.  And then for those that want something a little different, The World Wars mixes elements of actual history with something akin to a movie for a piece that is in itself one of this year’s best new documentaries.  There is so much more that could be noted in terms of what is made available content-wise.  But that would take far too long.  Needless to say, the amount of content made available across these twenty discs is roughly the equivalent of a small library of books on WWI and WWII.  It is likely more than enough for an entire academic year or even a single collegiate semester.  For those watching at home, it is material that can be visited and re-visited at any point any time one has to turn it off.  There is just so much to take in.  And every bit of it is well worth taking in, too.  It’s one more reason that any lover of history, and more specifically military history, will appreciate and enjoy this brand new box set.

The inclusion of seven full-length programs to make up The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection is by itself good reason for audiences to check out this box set.  The sheer breadth of material and its depth makes the set in whole even more worth the watch.  Making The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection a home run is its packaging.  One would think that twenty discs in one box set would make said box set pretty bulky.  However, History Channel has pleasantly surprised with this box set.  The set is broken up into two separate cases with ten discs each inside.  Both boxes see one disc placed on a spindle on the inside front of the case, another on the rear inside, and eight discs spread across four separate “leaves.”  The discs in question are placed on either side of each “leaf.”  This method of packaging both saves space and it protects the discs from one another.  Protecting the discs from one another means increasing the life of the discs, and in turn the enjoyment of each disc.  The packaging in whole will save space on any viewer’s DVD rack.  By comparison to the bulky box sets released by other companies this year and in previous years, audiences will see a positive difference between said box sets and this one.  Together with the previously noted content and the number of programs offered through this box set, this packaging makes The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection complete.  It makes one hundred percent clear just why any lover of history or military history specifically will enjoy and appreciate it.  It makes clear why it is a valid contender for a spot on any critic’s list of this year’s best new box sets overall.

The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct from History Channel’s online store at The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection. More information on this and other titles from History Channel is available online at:

Website: http://www.history.com

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

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.

Mr. Ed: The Complete Series Is One Of 2014’s Best New Box Sets Of Course

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Veteran actor Alan Young celebrated his 95th birthday last Wednesday, November 19th.  For those that might not know, Young is best known for playing architect Wilbur Post in the beloved 1960s sitcom Mr. Ed.  And on Tuesday, December 9th, fans of the classic series will receive a special belated gift celebrating Young’s birthday in the form of Mr. Ed: The Complete Series.  Shout! Factory’s upcoming box set marks the culmination of what started roughly five years ago with the release of Mr. Ed: Season 1.  It also marks the first time that the complete series has ever been released in one collection in any format.  And that is just the beginning of what makes this box set well worth the price and the space on any classic TV fan’s DVD rack.  Whether or not audiences are familiar with Mr. Ed, audiences will agree that more than anything else the writing in this series is a prime example of what once made television so great.  It is also an example of what once made sitcoms in general great.  The bonus features that were added to the box are just as welcome.  And of course, one would be remiss to ignore the quality of the footage itself.  Each aspect plays its own important role to the whole presentation.  Each aspect combined with the other makes Mr. Ed: The Complete Series one of this year’s best new box set for grown-ups and the family in whole if not the best new box set overall.

Nearly five decades have passed since Mr. Ed aired its last episode; forty-eight years to be exact. That episode, “Ed Goes to College,” aired on February 6th, 1966.  Since that time, the series hass run in synidcation on a variety of networks.  One of its best runs was on Nickelodeon in the late 80s and early 90s.  That was long before TV Land had become its own network.  It currently runs on Antenna TV as part of the network’s weekend programming lineup.  Throughout all of the syndicated runs on various networks and its current run on Antenna TV, Mr. Ed has never gotten a proper full release whether on VHS or DVD.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory the prayers of Mr. Ed fans everywhere have been answered.  Shout! Factory’s upcoming complete series release of Mr. Ed marks the first time that this classic CBS hit has ever gotten a full, proper release in any format.  That its upcoming complete series set will be the first ever for the series is more than enough reason for any fan of the show to add this box set to their collection.  Far too often, movies and TV shows are released, re-issued and sometimes re-issued again with litle to nothing different from said releases and re-issues from one to the next.  It makes them worth purchasing only for those that don’t already own said titles from one release to the next.  This release is worth picking up for every fan since until now, only the first five seasons have been released.  And even they have not been easy to find.  This box set will likely be just as difficult to find after a certain amount of time.  That makes thisfirst-ever release all the more worth purchasing upon its release.  It’s not all that audiences will appreciate about this box set, either.

The very fact that Shout! Factory will release Mr. Ed in its complete six-season run next month is in itself more than enough reason for fans of this classic to pick up the box set.  That’s because its release will mark the first time ever that the series will have been released in its entirety in one complete collection.  Examining this upcoming release a little closer, another reason that audiences will appreciate this box set is the series’ writing.  In comparison to the sitcoms that dominate the television spectrum today, the writing behind Mr. Ed is actually family friendly for the most part. The jokes and stories were obviously aimed more at grown-ups.  But it was still tame enough that even children could enjoy the show if only for Wilbur and Ed’s antics.  While younger audiences will enjoy their antics and the show’s physical comedy, grown-ups will enjoy the classic story lines.  From Ed helping Wilbur get a construction contract to making another man think his wife is having an affair with Wilbur to winning himself a television on a radio game show and much more, Ed is either helping Wilbur, getting him in trouble, or getting him out of the messes that he himself makes.  The formula is one that sadly, writers have long since abandoned.  It’s just classic feel good buddy comedy writing that the world needs more than ever today.  And audiences will agree in watching any of the episodes from this classic series just how welcome a return that formula is in comparison to the sophomoric, over sexed series that call themselves comedies today. Whether it be the series’ first season, its sixth, or those in between, every season more than proves that argument.

The writing behind Mr. Ed is the polar opposite of that behind every one of today’s sitcoms. While it is aimed more at grown-ups, the comedy is tame enough for grown-ups and younger audiences alike.  The fact that audiences will be able to enjoy this largely family friendly brand of comedy in its entirety for the first time makes this set even more worth the purchase.  The companion interviews and commentary included with the set are just as important as those aspects to the overall presentation that is Mr. Ed: The Complete Series.  Right off the top, audiences are treated to the pilot episode to Mr. Ed complete with bonus commentary from Alan Young and co-star Connie Hines.  Audiences get some interesting insight in the bonus commentary including the real name of the horse that played Mr. Ed.  That name won’t be given away for the sake of those that don’t yet know the horse’sname.  There are also two bonus radio interviews and an extended interview with Alan Young and Connie Hines that explains the rise and fall of the show over the course of its six seasons.  Audiences will be interested to learn that Studabaker originally wanted to sponsor the series but then gave in to pressure before an employee of CBS brokered a deal that would bring Mr. Ed to CBS for the course of its six-season run.  That and much more is offered throughout each of the interviews and the bonus commentary.  And together with the aforementioned factors, it makes this box set even more deserving of the top spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups and families alike.

The bonus material included in as part of Mr. Ed: The Complete Series, the series’ writing, and the fact that the series has never been released in its entirety until now collectively make this box set far more than deserving of the top sopt on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups and families alike.  For all of those positives, the box set would be nothing without quality footage. And quality footage is exactly what audiences get from every last episode fromSeason 1 to season 6.  Since Shout! Factory had already released the series’ first five seasons prior to this box set, all that had to be done was to take those transfers and put them in new boxes.  The next step was to transfer the original masters for Season 6 onto DVD and the process was done.  The end result is six seasons that look just as good today as they did so long ago both in their original broadcasts and their syndicated re-airings.  It pushes this box set over the top and makes it without a shadow of a doubt, the best new box set for grown-ups and families alike and a viable candidate for the best new box set of the year overall.

Mr. Ed: The Complete Series will be available Tuesday, December 9th on DVD in stores and online.  It can be pre-ordered online now direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/mister-ed-the-complete-series.  And anyone that pre-orders it online now will get free U.S. standard shipping.  More information on Mr. Ed: The Complete Series and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

 

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.

Audiences Will Discover A Lot To Like About “Bing Crosby Rediscovered”

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

This past October, Paramount Pictures re-issued the 1942 holiday classic Holiday Inn on Blu-ray.  It marked the first time ever that the movie, which starred legendary actor Bing Crosby, had seen the light of day on Blu-ray.  Fittingly, PBS will release a new episode of its hit biography series American Masters featuring Crosby next Tuesday, December 2nd.  While not necessarily a companion to Paramount’s recent BD re-issue of Holiday Inn, the timing of the two releases makes them a perfect pair.  Whether before taking in Holiday Inn or after, audiences will find plenty to like about American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered.  The most enjoyable aspect of this new DVD is the fact that it isn’t just another typical video documentary of a celebrity.  It doesn’t follow that standard formula of life to death that so many bios use in their presentations.   Rather it focuses on Crosby the man, the myth, and the legend.  This includes the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.  The fact that American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered isn’t another standard bio is just part of what audiences will enjoy about this new documentary.  The use of actual vintage footage and pictures from Crosby’s career and personal life as part of the discussion on both parts of his life makes the presentation even more enjoyable.  And last but hardly least worth noting is the inclusion of interviews with those that knew him best including his own wife as well as famed biographer Gary Giddens and fellow jazz legend Tony Bennett among others.  Each aspect by itself makes this episode of American Masters well worth the watch.  Collectively, they show once again why PBS remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming today.

PBS will release another new episode of its hit bio series American Masters next Tuesday, December 2nd.  The upcoming release focuses on legendary entertainer Bing Crosby.  Just as with all of PBS’ other series (both domestic and imported), it is more proof of why PBS stands as the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.  Audiences that are not so familiar with the life and times of Bing Crosby will appreciate first and foremost in this DVD the depth of information shared throughout the course of its roughly ninety-minute run time.  The bio presented here isn’t the standard formulaic bio presented so often by other networks and filmmakers.  It’s a fully unbiased bio that presents Bing Crosby the man, the myth, and the legend.  It presents his good side and his bad.  From his superstardom to his alcoholism and womanizing to his working relationship with fellow entertainer Bob Hope in the famed “Road To…” movies (apparently the duo spent nearly no time together off-screen), audiences see every angle of Crosby’s life. Audiences learn that he was hardly the easiest person to work with when it came to recording songs. And sometimes, he was just as tough to work with in live settings.  Also included is the downright ugly part of his family’s life in which two of his sons took their own lives. There is much more information shared throughout the course of the program that many might never have known. For those that have always known one thing or another about Bing Crosby the entertainer or Bing Crosby the man, the information contained within this program completes the picture of the legendary figure’s history. It proves to be the fullest picture that audiences can get in regards to Crosby’s life. And in turn it proves once more why American Masters is such an important part of the whole that is PBS.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered offers to audiences what is one of the most complete portraits of the legendary entertainer that audiences will find to date. As with the series’ previous portraits, it far outperforms any celebrity profile presented by any other major network past or present. The amount of information provided throughout the course of the documentary is just one reason that the program in whole is so impressive. The vintage video and photographs that are included with the breadth of information on Crosby and his life enhances the viewing experience even more. Audiences get to see pictures of Crosby with his family away from the bright lights of Hollywood. They get to also see snippets of his famed “Road To…” movies and much more. The combination of these elements and the story of Crosby’s life in and out of the limelight makes the overall content of this program all the more important to its enjoyment. It collectively shows once again why American Masters outperforms any celebrity-based series on any major broadcast and cable network today.

The combination of vintage footage and photos and in-depth story of Crosby’s life used in American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered make this feature more than worth the watch. The bonus videos and interviews that come as companion material make the overall presentation even more enjoyable for audiences. Viewers learn from director Robert Trachtenberg that he worked directly with the estate of Bing Crosby to bring the documentary to life. Trachtenberg and others note Crosby’s hard work ethic and his humility among so much more. There is also a full clip of Crosby performing with his sons later in his life. The clip in question is presented only in part during the primary presentation. So audiences actually get to see the full performance in this clip in question. It’s a truly moving moment taking into consideration the story of what happened to two of his sons later in their lives. And along with the bonus interviews, it becomes one more welcome addition to American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered that makes the presentation in whole a piece that any Crosby aficionado will enjoy.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered is a wonderful piece for anyone that has ever had any interest in the life and legacy of the famed entertainer. It reveals that Crosby is more than just that guy known for having sung ‘White Christmas.’ It also debunks some of the biggest myths surrounding his life. It is a fully unbiased look at the life of one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century showing Crosby in his glory and even more tarnished side. The bonus interviews that were added as companion material adds even more depth to the overall presentation. All things considered, American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered proves in the end to be one more welcome addition to another wonderful piece of PBS’ overall programming schedule. It will be available next Tuesday, December 2nd. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50703406&cp=&sr=1&kw=american+masters&origkw=American+Masters&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of American Masters is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters

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

 

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.

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

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.

The Treatment’s Debut LP Keeps Pace Solidly With Rock’s Big Dogs

Courtesy:  Spinefarm Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

The 1980s is one of the most important decades in the history of the music industry.  Disco evolved into New Wave during that decade.  Rap and Hip-Hop started burgeoning during those years, too.  And in the world of rock, audiences were presented with both the New Wave of Heavy Metal (NWOHM), and the rise and fall of the hair metal movement.  While the age of big hair and big rock came and went seemingly in the blink of an eye, it also produced some of the biggest names in the history of rock and metal.  Def Leppard, Poison, Motley Crue, Dokken and others of that ilk dominated radio stations and arenas across the country in that ten-year span.  Motley Crue is officially calling it a career.  The others called it a career years ago.  And while they may be gone, many bands since have shown that they are hardly forgotten, producing record after record that pays homage to said forebears.  Now another act has added its name to that long list of bands keeping the age of big guitar riffs and equally big hair alive in the form of The Treatment.  The five piece from Cambridge, England released its full length deut record Running With The Dogs on indie label Spinefarm Records back in February of this year.  It is a fittingly titled record, too.  That’s because the band, whose members are each in no more than their late teens, stays right with the rest of the pack on its debut.  The band keeps up with other bands of its genre (E.g. Buckcherry, Airbourne) in its debut.  That’s thanks both to its full-throttle, no nonsense rock and roll sound, and its equally old school lyrics.  The combination of the two makes this record a must hear for anyone that  wants a break from the seemingly constant barrage of cookie monster growls and poppy rock songs dominating so much of the rock world today.  Right off the top, front man Matt Jones and his band mates–Dee Dammers (guitar), Tagore Grey (Guitar), Dhani Mansworth (drums), and Rick “Swoggle” Newman (bass)–show that they mean business in the album’s opener ‘I Bleed Rock N’ Roll.’  This song is classic rock and roll all the way around and will have audiences instantly rocking and singing along.  By and large, the band keeps things moving throughout the record, slowing only once in the album’s penultimate acoustic opus ‘Unchain My World.’  Even being an acoustic piece, it harkens back to the acoustic ballads of Poison and other big hair bands from the 80s.  And what rock record is complete without an up-tempo piece about a female figure that all the guys want?  It’s there, too in the form of ‘She’s Too Much.’    These three songs are each enjoyable in their own right for anyone nostalgic for real  rock and roll.  Along with the other ten songs that make up this album, the whole thing proves to be a record that any old school rock and roll fan will enjoy.

The Treatment’s debut album Running With The Dogs is an aptly titled collection of songs.  The band’s members show exactly why right off the top in the album’s high-energy opener ‘I Bleed Rock and Roll.’  Musically speaking, this song instantly shows influences from veteran rock acts the likes of AC/DC and Motley Crue.  Drummer Dhani Mansworth’s solid 4/4 time set against the dual guitar attack of Dee Dammers and Tagore Grey instantly gets the body and the blood moving.  The duo’s old school shredding and harmonies will transport audiences back to rock’s era of big riffs and even bigger hair.  Front man Matt Jones’ vocal styling adds to that musical trip back in time even more.  It’s incredible how much Jones’ vocal style soudns so much like Motley Crue front man Vince Neil.  Lyrically, the song is just as much of an homage to rock’s “biggest” era with the band singing in the song’s chorus, “I live rock and roll/It’s my destiny/All I bleed is rock and roll.  the message is clear and simple not just here but in the song’s verses, too.  That simplicity and clarity of the song’s lyrics couple with its musical side to make this song the perfect opener for the band.  To another extent, that it finishes in such bombastic fashion makes it an equally fitting closer both on the album and in a live setting.  It’s just one of so many of the album’s opuses that shows what makes it a pure rock record well worth the listen.

It goes without saying that The Treatment chose the right song in ‘I Bleed Rock and Roll’ to open its debut full-length record.  Interestingly enough, that same song would work just as much as a closer for the band as the album’s closer and even as a show closer in a live setting.  The energy exuded by the band in this song is carried throughout every one of the songs that follow it right up to the album’s penultimate piece ‘Unchain My World.’  This acoustic ballad is just as much a throwback to the 80s as the album’s opener and any other song on this record.  Stylistically, listeners will instantly be able to make comparisons between this song and the ballads churned out by veteran rock bands such as Motley Crue, Poison, and even Mr. Big just to name a few.  This applies to the song both musically and lyrically.  The comparison to Mr. Big comes especially in the song’s chorus as the band sings “Unchain my world/Cause you’re all I’ve really got.”  Musically, one could even mistake the song for one of Mr. Big’s biggest hits of all time if one were listening to this song not knowing it was said band.  The song’s verses highlight that comparison, too with Jones singing how much a certain love interest has changed the subject’s life.  He sings of said subject’s view of the love interest, “I’m still fascinated/How deep inside I feel so incomplete/Indiscreet.”  Just as with the album’s opener, that mix of music and lyrics is just as certain to take audiences back to what is perhaps one of rock’s most underrated eras.

‘I Bleed Rock and Roll’ and ‘Unchain My World’ are both prime examples of the old school 80s influence presented on The Treatment’s debut full-length album.  Any old school rock and roll aficionado will appreciate thanks to that direct influence.  They aren’t the only good examples of that influence and enjoyment on this record, either.  The blues-based rocker that is ‘She’s Too Much’ is another great example of that influence and enjoyment.  It’s not as up-tempo as some of the album’s other songs.  But it leaves no one guessing in regards to its lyrical content.  It is presented very much in the vein of AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie.’  Jones sings over the bluesy riffs of his band mates, “She’s too much/Everything is not enough/She’s too much/Better load your gun boys/Take aim/Now fire.”  The song is thankfully not a direct mirror image of ‘Whole Lotta Rosie.’  But the blues-based rock sound churned out by Dammers and Grey definitely makes the comparison easy and not in a bad way, either.  Again in a time when so much of the rock and even hard rock world is dominated by cookie monster growls and crunching, down-tuned guitars, such a comparison is especially welcome considering that The Treatment has taken an influence as respected as AC/DC and crafted its own equally fun rock song.  It’s just one more of the thirteen total songs on this record that classic rock buffs will enjoy.

The songs noted here are each good examples of just what makes The Treatment’s debut album Running WithThe Dogs one more album released this year proving that contrary to Gene Simmons’ own views, rock and roll is not dead.  Nor is it even in the hospital so to speak.  It proves that rock and roll is alive and well.  It takes audiences back to an era when rock and roll was indeed rock and roll; an era when rock and roll was truly fun.  European audiences will agree with that sentiment when they see the band live on its current European tour.  Audiences will get to hear the band live when it rolls into Rotterdam, Netherlands next Thursday, November 27th, Paris, France next Friday, and Brussels, Belgium next Saturday, November 29th.  Audiences can pick up the band’s CD at those shows and each show after.  Whether in Europe or in the United States, audiences can pick up Running With The Dogs in stores or online now.  Fans can keep up with the band’s current tour schedule and all of its latest updates online now at:

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheTreatmentUK

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.