Eagle Rock, E.A.R. Music To Release New Archived Deep Purple Concert

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/E.A.R. Music

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/E.A.R. Music

Eagle Rock Entertainment and E.A.R. Music will release another archived live Deep Purple this summer.

Eagle Rock Entertainment and E.A.R. Music will release Deep Purple: Graz 1975 on Tuesday, September 23rd. The recording, which is part of Deep Purple’s “(Overseas) Live Series,” was recorded at the Liebenauer ice rink. The rink is located just outside of the city of Graz, Austria. Graz is the second-largest city in Austria just behind Vienna. The concert features the classic MK III lineup of Richie Blackmore (guitar), David Coverdale (vocals), Glenn Hughes (bass/vocals), Jon Lord (keyboards), and Ian Paice (drums). He show was dubbed by the local press as being the “rock event of the year” at the time of the event.

The band’s eight-song performance opens with a rousing performance of its hit song ‘Burn.’ The show’s set list consists largely of songs from the band’s earlier days in which Ian Gillan handled vocal duties and Roger Glover played bass. It includes iconic songs such as ‘Smoke on the Water’ and ‘Space Truckin.’ After the band’s performance in Graz, it would go on to perform only two more shows together before guitarist Richie Blackmore would leave the band. He would later go on to form the equally iconic rock band Rainbow. American guitarist Tommy Bolin took over guitar duties after Blackmore’s departure from the band.

Deep Purple: Graz 1975 has never before been released in its entirety in any form. Its release later this month will mark the first time ever that the recording has been released in its entirety. It will be available on CD, two-disc gatefold LP, and digital audio. The show’s set list is noted below.

Track Listing:

  1. Burn
  2. Stormbringer
  3. The Gypsy
  4. Lady Double Dealer
  5. Mistreated
  6. Smoke On The Water
  7. You Fool No One
  8. Space Truckin’

 

More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt and http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews. More information on this and other releases from E.A.R. Music is available online at http://ear-music.net and http://www.facebook.com/earmusicofficial. 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.

Prosthetic Records Announces COC Vinyl Re-Issues On The Way

Officials with Prosthetic Records announced recently that the label will re-issue two classic Corrosion of Conformity albums on vinyl.

Prosthetic Records will re-issue Corrosion of Conformity’s seminal 1991 and 1994 albums Blind and Deliverance. Each album will be re-issued on 180-gram vinyl. Release dates for the re-issues have not yet been confirmed. However it is known that re-issues for both albums will be limited to 1,000 copies each. Pre-orders for both albums are currently available in the Prosthetic Records webshop.

COC BLIND COVER ART

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Blind will be presented in a double-disc LP set in three separate 180-gram colors: purple (700 copies), black (200 copies), and clear (100 copies). It will also include a color lyric insert, liner notes by music journalist Chris Dick, and three bonus tracks that were included in the album’s 1995 re-issue on compact disc. The track listing for the upcoming vinyl re-issue of Blind is noted below.

“Blind” (2014 Double LP edition):

  1. These Shrouded Temples…
  2. Damned For All Time
  3. Dance of the Dead
  4. Buried
  5. Break The Circle
  6. Painted Smiling Face
  7. Mine Are The Eyes of God
  8. Shallow Ground
  9. Vote With A Bullet
  10. Great Purification
  11. White Noise
  12. Echoes In The Well
  13. …Remain
  14. Condition A/Condition B *
  15. Future Now (MC5 cover) *
  16. Jim Beam and the Coon Ass *

* first time ever appearing on vinyl

 

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Prosthetic Records’ re-issue of Deliverance will mark the first time in two decades that the previously out-of-print album has been re-issued to audiences. It will be presented in a gatefold jacket in three separate 180-gram colors: green (700 copies), black (200 copies), and red (100 copies). The track listing for Deliverance is noted below.

 

“Deliverance” (2014 LP edition):

  1. Heaven’s Not Overflowing
  2. Albatross
  3. Clean My Wounds
  4. Without Wings
  5. Broken Man
  6. Senor Limpio
  7. Mano de Mono
  8. Seven Days
  9. #2121313
  10. My Grain
  11. Deliverance
  12. Shake Like You
  13. Shelter
  14. Pearls Before Swine

 

Audiences can keep up with the latest on these re-issues’ release dates and all of the latest on other releases from Prosthetic Records online now at http://www.facebook.com/prostheticrecords, http://www.prostheticrecords.com, http://twitter.com/ProstheticRcds, and http://www.myspace.com/prostheticrecords. 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.

The Walking Dead Is At Its Best In Its Fourth Season

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

AMC’s The Walking Dead was little more than a cult favorite when it first *ahem* came to life back in 2010. Now four seasons later the comic book-based series has become more of a cultural phenomenon than just the shot in the dark that it started as four years ago. Fans are waiting rabidly for the premiere of the series’ fifth season next month. Those fans still have a little time to wait. And while they do, they can finally get caught back up thanks to the release of The Walking Dead Season 4 last Tuesday, August 26th. Audiences’ familiarity aside, audiences will all agree that one of the key factors to the enjoyment of Season 4 is the show’s writing. The series’ writers answered in this season one of the biggest questions and concerns that had been posed by audiences from early on. In doing so, they also advanced the story and made it even more gripping.   It’s just one part of what makes the writing this season such a solid sticking point for the overall presentation. Also making this season work is the acting on the part of the cast. The cast, having expanded even more from the series’ first three seasons, has offered more chances for the writers to present the show’s real heart. And now that Season 4 has been released via multiple formats, one cannot ignore the inclusion of a bevy of bonus features. These additions aren’t just the standard gag reel, “Making of” featurette and deleted scenes. There is much more here that rounds out the entire set.   The rich depth of bonus material included in Season 4 set alongside the cast’s acting and the writing behind each episode shows exactly why this show is more than just another zombie-based series. It is a human drama. Considering that, Season 4 becomes full proof of why every fan of the drama genre should allow at least one chance.

When The Walking Dead first premiered four years ago, it was considered largely a cult hit. That’s because the comic book-based series focused on the attempt by the living to survive a zombie apocalypse of sorts. Since then, the show’s popularity seems to have skyrocketed. Why it has skyrocketed was anyone’s guess at first glance. However, the reason for the series’ success is more evident than ever with the release of the series’ fourth season in its various home formats. The primary reason in question for the series’ popularity lies in its writing. Audiences finally get one of the series’ most important questions and concerns at least somewhat answered this season. The noted question and concern center on how the zombie outbreak began in the first place. While the answer given doesn’t necessarily make things 100% clear, it does open up a whole new door that is certain to make the series even more interesting when its fifth season kicks off next month. That semi-answer also leads to another important aspect of this season’s writing. It leads to the series’ more human element. As the outbreak continues, it forces the survivors of the outbreak to face some very difficult situations both within their confined setting and in the grand scheme of things. To see the survivors have to face the growing emotional challenges before them will keep even the newest of viewers engaged throughout each episode. That element of human drama is really what makes this series work even now in its fourth season. Those viewers that have watched the series from day one will agree with that just as much as those that are just now jumping on. Sure, there’s the whole zombie/horror aspect on the surface. But the show’s writers keep the human drama just as much in the forefront. And it is that aspect of the writing more so than anything that keeps the series fresh even now through its fourth season. It also ties in to another aspect of what makes Season 4 work—the acting on the part of the cast.

The multifaceted writing that is used throughout the fourth season of The Walking Dead makes it surprisingly watchable even by those less familiar with the series. Also making The Walking Dead so surprisingly watchable now in its fourth season is the acting on the part of the cast, which has now expanded even more. The psychological impact of Carol (Melissa McBride) having to tell two of the girls that their father had been infected and was turning is a prime example of how the acting makes this season so powerful. It would have been so easy for the girls to ham it up as they were forced to confront the unspeakable act of having to kill their own father just to protect themselves and everyone else. But they took the moment and really went with it. They made simply watching the moment in question painful. And the coldness on The Governor’s face when he shoots Meghan late in the season will leave viewers torn emotionally. As difficult as it is to watch, one can’t help but feel at least somewhat sorry for him having to take that measure. Audiences that haven’t yet seen any part of Season 4 will understand in watching this season’s episodes. But it is acting such as that that makes this season all the more gripping. These are just a couple examples of how the acting on the part of the show’s cast makes this season perhaps one of the series’ best so far if not the best so far. Audiences will find plenty of other instances in which the cast’s work makes this season work when they purchase Season 4 for themselves.

The writing and acting that make up the fourth season of The Walking Dead are both of equal importance to the overall success and enjoyment of this newly released full season box set. Whether they are familiar with this season or seeing it for the first time, audiences will agree that both factors make this season one definitely worth watching. Now that it has been released via various formats in its home release, there is one more factor worth noting that makes Season Four worth the watch. That final factor is the inclusion of the set’s bonus material. Season Four doesn’t come with the standard gag reel, deleted scenes, etc. Rather, audiences are offered a vast array of bonuses. Most of the episodes this season receive their own behind-the-scenes featurette. There are also a number of commentaries included throughout the season. There is also a character profile on The Governor, and a look at “Society, Science and Survival” among so many other extras included with this season. There are in fact so many bonuses that in order to watch them all would add likely another whole day of viewing for fans as they count down to the premiere of this now hit series’ fifth season. And fans will agree in watching these bonuses that that is definitely a good thing (to use a familiar line).

The bonus material added in to Anchor Bay Entertainment’s newly released The Walking Dead Season 4 box sets more than live up to their collective title. And together with this season’s acting and writing, audiences will agree fully that The Walking Dead Season 4 proves to be an installment that fans familiar and not so familiar with this series will appreciate. It is available now in stores and online in a number of formats. It can be ordered direct from Anchor Bay Entertainment’s website at http://www.anchorbayent.com/detail.aspx?projectID=bed5b3a5-06a3-e311-b062-d4ae527c3b65. More information on this and other releases is available online now at http://www.anchorbayent.com, http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay and http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay. Walking Dead fans can keep up with the latest news on the show online at http://www.facebook.com/TheWalkingDeadAMC, http://www.amc.com/shows/the-walking-dead, and http://twitter.com/WalkingDead_AMC. 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 keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Chile On Hell Is A Hard Rocking Music History Lesson From Anthrax

Courtesy:  Megaforce Records

Courtesy: Megaforce Records

2014 is almost over.  But even as the year’s last months start to wind down, things haven’t cooled down in terms of the year’s new live recordings. As the year’s final months wind by, critics everywhere will begin firming up their annual “Best Of” lists for publication later in December.  Most critics will focus mainly on the year’s best overall movies and music.  And then there will be those critics and writers that will focus on specific lists such as the year’s best new pop albums, rock albums, hard rock albums, etc. It would seem that among all of the lists that are compiled, one category that doesn’t necessarily receive the attention that it deserves is that of the year’s best new live recordings in terms of DVDs and Blu-rays.  This critic’s personal list of the year’s best new live recordings is already firming up quite well.  There are still at least a couple of spots left open on that list, though.  And one of those spots will most definitely be taken up by veteran hard rock/metal band Anthrax’s new live DVD Chile on Hell.  This new live recording is one that any long-time Anthrax fan will appreciate and enjoy first and foremost for its set list.  While this concert is not necessarily what one would call a “career-spanning” show, it is one that both the band’s original fans and its newest fans alike will appreciate.  The next aspect of the DVD that audiences will appreciate is the band’s stage presence.  Some might consider this something minor.  But in reality, it is just as important in keeping audiences at home fully engaged.  And last but most definitely not least of all worth noting is the concert’s collective audio and video mix.  The two together present a certain raw look and sound that are just as impressive as any more spit shined and perfected recordings that are currently available to audiences.    Each of the factors noted here play their own important role in the overall enjoyment of Chile on Hell.  Altogether, they make this DVD a dark horse candidate for a spot on at least this critic’s list of the year’s best new live recordings.

Far too often, the term career-spanning is tossed around when it comes to live recordings.  Sadly, very far too few of those recordings live up to such hype.  That isn’t to say that no recording lives up to that label.  Rather, far too few live recordings live up to said label.  Thankfully, neither Anthrax nor Megaforce Records make any attempt to call Chile on Hell one of that mass of overly hyped recordings.  Rather, they let the recording speak for itself.  And the statement made is loud and crystal clear as audiences will see in the show’s set list.  The nearly two-hour show includes some of the material included on Worship Music and the band’s recently released EP Anthems.  But by and large, the set list presented in Chile on Hell takes audiences back to the band’s earlier days.  To be more exact, the band largely reaches back to its 1985 and 1987 albums Spreading The Disease and Among The Living for this concert.  1990’s Persistence of Time of also represented here courtesy of the song ‘In My World.’  Such a mix of classics and more recent songs will bring in both the band’s original fan base and its newer and possibly younger fan base at the same time.  One could argue that in presenting such a set list, the band is paying respect to its original fan base while teaching a valuable music history lesson to those younger and newer fans.  Even if this was not the original intent on the part of the band or of Megaforce Records, it is one of the results.  It makes the set list even more solid as the DVD’s center.

The set list and the potentially latent function of said list are together a solid starting point in the success and enjoyment of Chile on Hell.  Just as important as the set list and its effects is the band’s stage presence.  It goes without saying that the band’s stage presence in this stage is full-on.  Front man Joey Belladonna and founding guitarist Scott Ian exude so much energy; so much in fact that even audiences at home will find themselves wanting to sing along and head bang with them.  Such a powerful translation even on-screen is quite a statement.  Belladonna’s band mates add their own energy through their performances.  Whether through Charlie Benante’s pounding drumming, the spot on shredding of Shadows Fall guitarist Jonathan Donais (who replaced Rob Caggiano) or even bassist Frank Bello, the band collectively keeps the audience in attendance at the recording fully engaged from start to finish.  And home viewing audiences will feel that energy themselves, leading them to be fully engaged throughout, too.  That the band’s stage presence could translate so well and have such impact even on home viewers is a tribute to the band itself.  And coupled with the show’s set list, the overall effect of the show is made even stronger, thus making the recording in whole all the more enjoyable for all of the band’s legions of fans.

The set list arranged for Anthrax’s show in Chile and the band’s stage presence combine to make Chile on Hell an impressive addition to any Anthrax fan’s personal collection.  The recording’s collective audio and video mix is the final touch to the whole presentation.  The video doesn’t have the spit shined look of so many other live recordings before it.  Rather, it has a grainier, more raw look.  Yet that look actually plays into the overall presentation.  That is because it actually serves to help heighten the energy exuded by both the band and the audience.  Staying on that topic, audiences will enjoy the camera attached to the end of guitarist Scott Ian’s guitar.  That angle and the others used throughout the concert are used at just the right moments to make for a wonderful impact.  And despite being recorded at an indoor venue, the concert’s audio mix turned out impressive in its own right, too.  Balancing audio levels at indoor venues always has and always will present its own challenges.  In the case of this concert, those charged with balancing the concert’s audio levels both at the show and in post-production are to be commended for their efforts.  The end result of their work is a concert recording in which neither the vocals nor the music overpowered the other.  And together with the equally professional work on the concert’s video mix, it proves to be a concert experience that any of Anthrax’s legions of fans will enjoy no less with each watch.

Those charged with handling the audio and video mix for Chile on Hell are to be highly commended for their high quality of work in this concert.  The band and its label are to be commended, too.  The set list serves a dual purpose.  And the band’s stage presence will keep audiences fully engaged from start to finish.  All three of these factors come together to make Chile on Hell a concert that while bare bones, is one that any hard rock fan and any Anthrax fan will appreciate and enjoy.  The DVD will be available Tuesday, September 16th via Megaforce Records.  Fans can find out more about this upcoming live recording and keep up with all of the latest updates from Anthrax online at http://anthrax.com, http://anthraxarmy.com, http://twitter.com/anthrax, and http://www.facebook.com/anthrax.  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.

Live Returns With New Album, Singer, Label This Fall

Courtesy:  Think Loud Recordings

Courtesy: Think Loud Recordings

Veteran rock band Live will release its new album this fall.

Live will release The Turn on Tuesday, October 28th on Think Loud Recordings. The album, the band’s–eighth full-length studio release–is the first with new front man Chris Shinn. It also features the band’s original lineup of Chad Taylor (guitar/backing vocals), Patrick Dalheimer (bass/percussion), and Chad Gracey (drums/percussion). It also reunites the band with producer Jerry Harrison. Harrison previously worked with Live on three of the band’s previous releases—Mental Jewelry (1991), Throwing Copper (1995), and The Distance To Here (1999).

The band launched a Pledge Music campaign yesterday to kick off the promotional efforts for the album’s release. A portion of the proceeds from that campaign will go to the charity Musicians on Call. Musicians on Call is a charity program that brings both live musicians and recorded music in to hospitals around the country as a means of therapy for patients. More information on Musicians on Call and its efforts is available online at http://www.musiciansoncall.org. Fans can help make The Turn a reality and help donate to Musicians on Call all at the same time online at http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/live. Details on the album’s lead single, tour dates and more will be announced soon. They will be announced both through the band’s Pledge Music page and via its various social media platforms. The track listing for The Turn is listed below.

The Turn Track Listing:
1.    Sirens Call
2.    Don’t Run to Wait
3.    Natural Born Killers
4.    6310 Rodgerton Dr.
5.    By Design
6.    The Way Around is Through
7.    Need Tonight
8.    The Strength to Hold On
9.    We Open The Door
10.   He Could Teach the Devil Tricks
11.   Till You Came Around

More information on Live, its upcoming album and tour dates and all of the latest updates from the band is available online at http://freaks4live.com, http://www.facebook.com/THEBANDLIVE, and http://twitter.com/freaks4live. 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.

Royal Blood Is One Of This Year’s Most Surprising Rock Records

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Records

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Records

British Rock duo Royal Blood made big waves earlier this year when it released its debut EP Out of the Black.  That release was but a mere sampling of what the duo—Michael Kerr (bass/vocals) and Ben Thatcher (drums)—had to offer on its now available self-titled major label debut.  Royal Blood is now available in store and online via Warner Brothers Records.  And anyone that has yet to hear any of the band’s music will be impressed by the record’s sound.  The ten tracks contained on this disc boast sounds influenced from the likes of Clutch, The Black Keys, The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club just to name a handful.  That mix of influences has led to an album that is arguably one of the best new rock albums of the year and potentially one of the best new albums of the year overall, too.  The proof is obvious right off the top in the album’s opener and title track from its previously released EP ‘Out of the Black.’  Kerr and Thatcher step things up right after that on the forward-driving ‘Come On Over.’  If those songs aren’t enough for listeners, ‘Little Monster’ is sure to impress with its mix of equally driving music and rather thought provoking lyrics.  All three of these songs are equally impressive examples of what makes Royal Blood one of the surprise records of the year.  That is not to discount any of the album’s any other songs.  The album’s bluesy album closer ‘Better Strangers’ and the infectious ‘Figure It Out’ are just as enjoyable as the previously mentioned pieces.  And the album’s remaining five tracks each play their own part in this album’s enjoyment.  Whether for those tracks or the ones noted here, the end result is an album that is again one of the biggest surprises of the year.

Royal Blood’s new self-titled major label debut album is without a doubt one of the best new rock albums of 2014. It is also potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall. The duo makes its case for that title right from the album’s outset. The album’s opener is a bombastic first impression from Kerr and Thatcher. The massive wall of sound generated by the pair instantly conjures thoughts of Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and others of that ilk. Kerr’s vocals are just as much a powerhouse as the music crafted by himself and Thatcher as he sings in the song’s chorus, “You made a fool out of me/You took the skin off my back running/So don’t breath when I talk/Cause you have been spoken to/I got a gun for a mouth/And a bullet with your name on it/But a trigger full of heartbeat/I’m pulling from an empty pocket.” The video for this song is actually available now online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_3mNCaJgNM. So audiences can check out the song’s pure immensity in the combination of its music and vocals.

As if the seemingly untamed energy generated by ‘Out of the Black’ wasn’t enough for audiences, Kerr and Thatcher keep things moving on the album’s second song ‘Come on Over.’ This song is another full on piece that is sure to impress listeners.  Kerr sings on this song, “Let’s run away/Get out of here/I got no money/And I don’t care/This ain’t my house/This ain’t your home/Not when I’m feeling this alone.” This is an interesting chorus, lyrically speaking. It seems to reflect a certain negative energy felt by perhaps a broken home of sorts. One wonders even more about this as Kerr sings later in the song, “I’m on a train going nowhere/I ran away to make you care/This ain’t my house/This ain’t your home/Not when I’m feeling this alone.” If this is one of those standard songs of self-denial and doubt, the musical side of the song doesn’t reflect that vibe. Hearing lyrics like those noted here, one would expect a musical side from the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Staind or others. But instead , the song’s musical side presents more of a self-determined vibe. It makes for quite the contradiction. And that contradiction makes the song all the more interesting. Audiences can check out an in-studio performance of this song online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlSAjp-XaTo. So as with the previously noted songs, audiences can hear this song for themselves and heard that musical contradiction of moods that makes it yet another welcome addition to Royal Blood.

Both ‘Out of the Black’ and ‘Come On Over’ more than make for their own positive impression for Royal Blood.   But Kerr and Thatcher don’t rest easily on their laurels as is evident in ‘Little Monster.’ This song comes a little past the album’s halfway mark.  It is another impressive addition to Royal Blood not just because of the song’s power and energy, but also because it has a certain swagger mixed into the song’s overall feel. That swagger works just as well with the song’s overall sludge rock feel as it does with the song’s lyrics. Audiences will be able to hear that as Kerr sings, “I got love on my fingers/Lust on my tongue/You say you got nothing/So come out and get some/Heartache to heartache/I’m your wolf/I’m your man/I say run little monster/Before you know who I am.” Even more interesting in this song is the New Jack Swing beat of sorts played by Thatcher against the harder edged sound of Kerr’s playing. Somehow, the two parts meld together although one wouldn’t generally think that they would. As with the EP’s opener, this song also has a companion video that can be viewed online now. So audiences can hear the song and hear that massive sound for themselves when they check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ere2Mstl8ww.

‘Little Monster,’ ‘Come On Over,’ and ‘Out of the Black’ are all impressive additions to Royal Blood’s self-titled major label debut record.  Together, they make the band’s new album one of the biggest surprises of the year.  That is not to discount the album’s other songs.  Kerr and Thatcher keep audiences fully engaged right to the album’s end from the infectious ‘Figure It Out’ to the album’s bluesy closer ‘Better Strangers.’ Every track on this record plays its own part in the album’s overall success.  Altogether, each of the album’s ten tracks proves why this album is sure to be one of the year’s most talked about records by the time ticks to midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Royal Blood is available now online and in stores.  It is also available at the band’s live shows as Royal Blood is currently on tour in support of its new album.  It is currently wrapping up the European leg of its tour and will be coming back to the United States beginning September 19th in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Fans can check out when Royal Blood will come to their town online now at http://www.facebook.com/RoyalBloodUK, http://www.royalbloodband.com, http://twitter.com/royalblooduk.  Fans can also keep up with the latest updates from the band via each site.  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.

Lights! Camera! Menace! Is Another Must Have For Any Classic Cartoon Fan

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Dennis The Menace is one of the most beloved icons in the history of American pop culture.  What started out as a comic strip crafted by Hank Ketcham in March of 1951 went from there to become what is today a cultural phenomenon.  That comic strip spawned a live action series starring Jay North, which ran for nearly four years from October 1959 to July 1963.  It would later go on to spawn an animated series that while it ran only two seasons, remains one a favorite among audiences of all ages even today.  Earlier this year, Mill Creek Entertainment finally rewarded the patience of that series’ fans with the first half of the series’ first season on DVD.  The multi-disc set’s release marked the first time ever that the series had received a proper release.  And it proved to be a box set well worth the wait, too.  The same can be said of the new box set Lights! Camera! Menace!  Lights! Camera! Menace! is essentially Dennis The Menace Volume 2.  Why Mill Creek chose to give it a different title is anyone’s guess. Regardless, anyone that grew up with this standout cartoon series will appreciate and enjoy this latest collection of episodes just as much as its predecessor. The primary reason for that is that this set properly finishes off the series’ first season, despite what its title might lead one to think. Also, the continued family friendly writing makes this one of those rare gems that families can and should watch together. And last but not least is the series’ original hand-drawn animation. In an age when anime and CG-based children’s shows dominate the airwaves, this original true animation style serves as a reminder of the value of such animation. All three factors are important in their own right. Together, they make Lights! Camera! Menace! another must-have collection for any kid and kid at heart. They also collectively make this set another valid contender for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for children and families.

Typically, the most obvious starting point for examination of any box set would be the episodes’ scripts (I.E. the writing).  However, being that this box set and its predecessor mark the first time that this installment of the Dennis The Menace franchise has ever been released, the smarter starting point is the set’s episode listing.  Audiences will note that Lights! Camera! Menace! finishes off the first season of this classic kids’ cartoon series.  Every episode from the second half of Season One is here. The episodes are for the most part presented in the same order as they were presented in their original broadcasts.  There are some slight variances in the episode listing.  But those variances are so few that they can easily be brushed aside, making even more valuable the fact that every one of the episodes from the second half of Season One is present here.  Again, knowing this, it is anyone’s guess why this box set wasn’t simply titled Dennis The Menace Volume 2.  That’s anyone’s guess.  Regardless, the fact that it is the first time that these episodes have received a proper release and that they have all been included is the central point of this set’s success.  And it’s a solid central point at that.

That Lights! Camera! Menace! fully finishes off the first season of Dennis The Menace is a solid starting point for the newly released triple-disc box set.  Rising from that solid foundation is the writing incorporated into each of the scripts.  Dennis more than lives up to his moniker in the episodes included in this compilation.  He gets both Mr. Wilson and his own dad arrested in the set’s opening short “Sounds of the Night.”  They get arrested after being suspected of being a couple of robbers.  Of course Mr. Wilson’s argument that it was Dennis’ fault doesn’t help at all.  When Dennis’ dog Ruff accidentally runs amok on one of Mr. Wilson’s paintings, a famed art critic sees the painting and mistakes Mr. Wilson’s work for the work of someone else.  Of course, Mr. Wilson can’t convince the critic in question that the painting was his. That leads to plenty of laughs. He creates plenty of laughs as he causes trouble for Mr. Wilson and others throughout these episodes. There are also just as many laughs as he goes on various adventures with his friends and even gets them into some tight situations that ultimately come out alright, too. Whether it be his troublemaking ways with Mr. Wilson, his wildly fun adventures with his friends or even stopping spies (yes, he even stops a bad guy or two in this volume), Dennis’ adventures in Lights! Camera! Menace! will take the show’s original audiences back on a wonderful trip down memory lane. They will also show today’s young audiences what real cartoons are all about.

The fact that the episodes culled for Lights! Camera! Menace! completely finish off the first season of the classic series is a solid base for this collection. It’s great to see that the first season was finished off in full instead of just having this collection be a compilation of random episodes. Its title is a wholly different issue in itself. The writing that went into each of the episodes presented here makes this collection all the more enjoyable for viewers. The writing proves that it is possible to write good, solid cartoons without relying on crass humor. It proves that among all of the teeny-bopper and tweeny-bopper live action series out there on the networks of Nickelodeon and Disney, true worthwhile children’s programming such as Dennis The Menace still has a very relevant place in today’s television spectrum. It’s still just as entertaining today as it was in its original broadcast. The last factor that makes Lights! Camera! Menace! so enjoyable is its animation. The animation style used in this series was entirely done by hand. Just as the episodes’ writing proved to be fully original, so does that hand-drawn animation style. The only shows that came close to Dennis The Menace at the time were perhaps Heathcliff and The Real Ghostbusters.   Even as close as those shows might have been to Dennis The Menace in their animation, there were obvious stylistic differences between them, too. The key difference was the sharpness of detail. This series didn’t have that certain definition of the art in the other noted series. It was more raw for lack of better wording. A side-by-side comparison of the shows makes this much clearer. And in seeing that difference, as subtle as it is, audiences will see once more just why these classic episodes are so valuable. If audiences don’t appreciate the episodes’ writing or the fact that Mill Creek paid true tribute to the series by finishing off Season One in full, then this is sure to generate a certain appreciation for the series and the set among audiences.

Lights! Camera! Menace! is a wonderful presentation for audiences of all ages, as one should be able to tell by now. The episodes are literally family friendly in every sense. That’s thanks to solid writing that boasts so much heart. The full complement of Season One’s second half episodes makes the set even better. And the use of real hand-drawn animation finishes off this set. All three factors by themselves are important to the set’s success. Together, they make Lights! Camera! Menace! another impressive release from Mill Creek Entertainment, the packaging aside. They combine to make this set a valid contender at least for this critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for children and family. Lights! Camera! Menace! is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Mill Creek Entertainment online at http://www.millcreekdirect.com/dennis-the-menace-lights-camera-menace-32-episodes.html. More information on this and other releases from Mill Creek Entertainment is available online at http://www.millcreekent.com, http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt, and http://twitter.com/millcreekent. 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 in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.