Paxton, Spangler’s Abdullah Ibrahim Covers Set Is An Enjoyable Tribute To The South African Jazz Star

Courtesy: Eastlawn Records/C-She-C

Jazz musicians Tbone Paxton and RJ Spangler have spent the better part of their professional careers paying tribute to the jazz community of South Africa.  Among the South African jazz stars whose work the duo has taken on are the likes of Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, and Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath.  Early this month, the pair added yet another well-known South African jazz figure to those tanks with its new covers compilation, Anthem for the New Nation.  The record finds Paxton and Spangler (joined by a group of other musicians) taking on the music of Abdullah Ibrahim, a South African pianist who combined his home nation’s influences with Western jazz leanings to make some songs that are themselves well-known.  Ibrahim has released more than 70 (yes, 70) albums as a leader over the course of his more than 65 year-career.  To that end there is no way that one collection could ever fully represent such a rich catalog and career.  That means that while Anthem for the New Nation, which loosely takes its title from Ibrahim’s 1978 album Anthems for the New Nations, could only take on but so much of his material.  Paxton, Spangler and company do well as they take on Ibrahim’s songs in this collection, beginning with the compilation’s opener, ‘African Marketplace.’  The group’s take on ‘The Perfumed Forest Wet With Rain’ is another notable addition to the record.  It will be examined later.  ‘Soweto,’ which closes out the record, is yet another of the most notable of its featured covers.  It will also be examined later.  Each song shows in its own way to be an interesting presentation.  When they are considered along with the record’s four remaining works, the whole makes this record an enjoyable tribute to yet another great South African jazz artist.

Tbone Paxton and RJ Spangler’s recently released covers collection, Anthem for the New Nation is an enjoyable tribute to South African jazz stalwart Abdullah Ibrahim.  While it only presents six songs from Ibrahim’s rich catalog, those songs are still interesting takes that will appeal to fans of Paxton and Spangler just as much to those of Ibrahim and to those of South African jazz and jazz in general.  In other words, it is a record that despite being another covers collection, will find appeal among a wide range of audiences.  The record’s opener, ‘African Marketplace’ does its own part to support the noted statements.  Right from the song’s opening bars, the African percussion rhythm used in the original is there, as is the distinct bass line from the original.  That bass line itself is a familiar African sound, too, showing that connection between African and Western jazz.  Saxophonist Daniel Bennett’s work on the saxophone pairs with Jeff Cuny’s work on bass and the duo of Spangler and Sean Perlmutter on percussion and drums respectively to make the whole so rich.  The collective stays mostly true its source material, though the addition of the drums to the mix is new to this shortened version of the original. Even the saxophone solo from the original is present here, though it sounds like it might be in a different key in this take from the original.  The original runs more than seven minutes while this rendition runs more than six minutes (six minutes, 19 seconds to be exact).  So while the two renditions are very closely similar, there are some variances that regardless still leave the new version just as enjoyable as the original.  It is just one of the covers that stands out in this record.  The updated take of ‘The Perfumed Forest Wet With Rain’ is another work that stands out in this collection.

Paxton and Spangler’s take on ‘The Perfumed Forest Wet With Rain’ is a near completely different work from its original.  Right from the song’s outset, the piano line is different in each work.  Things get back on track from there, though.  The flute and gentle drums are just as present here as in the original song.  The production in this case though, makes the whole come through even richer.  As with the update on ‘African Marketplace,’ this take on ‘The Perfumed Forest Wet With Rain’ is shorter than the original.  The original runs almost nine-and-a-half minutes while the update runs just shy of the eight minute mark, so yes, there are some variances in terms of the overall arrangement, but for the most part, it still stays true to the source material.  Keeping that in mind, it proves to be just as positive an addition to the record as the collection’s other songs.  It is just one more of the notable of the record’s entries, too.  ‘Soweto’ is also worth examining.

The original take of ‘Soweto’ runs more than 17 minutes while Paxton and Spangler’s version comes in at just under the seven minute mark.  Even with that in mind, this rendition stays largely true to its source material, too.  The saxophone solo from the original is carried over into this version, while there is even an added trumpet solo.  The bass line that forms the song’s foundation is also just as present in the largely redundant composition.  Keeping everything in mind, the song proves just as engaging and entertaining as the other covers examined here and the rest of the record’s featured takes.  All things considered, the whole makes this collection a presentation that serves just as well as an introduction to the work of Abdullah Ibrahim as it is a new presentation for established fans of Paxton and Spangler. 

Tbone Paxton and RJ Spangler’s new collection of Abdullah Ibrahim covers is a record that fans of each artist will find interesting.  Even more casual jazz fans will find it interesting.  That is proven through the songs covered in this record.  They are but a small snapshot of Ibrahim’s extensive catalog, but do justice to the works in question.  Each of the songs examined here serve well to support the noted statements.  When they are considered with the collection’s other featured songs, the whole makes Songs for the New Nation a largely appealing new collection of covers.  The record is available now.  More information on this and other records from Eastlawn Records is available at https://www.eastlawnrecords.com.  

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Krid Rodgers & The Dirty Gems’ New LP Is A Shining Success

Courtesy: Wicked Cool Records

Wicked Cool Records has quietly become one of the leading names in the independent music community in the past year or so.  New releases on the label from acts, such as Soraia, Jessie Wagner, and Marc Ribler have served well to support that statement.  The release of Kris Rodgers and the Dirty Gems’ seventh album, Still Dirty, Friday solidifies that statement even more.  The band’s debut record with Wicked Cool Records, it is easily a record that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  That is due in no small part to its musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes play their own part to the album’s appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here plays its own important part to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Still Dirty one more of this year’s top new independent albums.

Kris Rodgers and the Dirty Gems’ forthcoming seventh album (and debut for Wicked Cool Records) is a surprisingly impressive offering from the veteran independent collective.  That is due in no small part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question are diverse.  That is putting it lightly.  From beginning to end of the approximately 34-minute presentation, audiences get such a wide range of sounds and styles from one to the next and even within themselves.  There is a lot of neo-classic rock sensibility throughout, beginning right from the album’s outset in ‘She Likes to Party.’  The slide and talk box in this song pairs with the use of what sounds like a Hammond B-3 organ and Rodgers’ vocal delivery to really liken the song to works from the group’s label mate, Kurt Baker while also clearly taking influence from the likes of The Dobie Brothers and The Allman Brothers Band.  By contrast, ‘Across The Galaxy,’ features a vocal performance by Rodgers that immediately lends itself to comparison to that of Alter Bridge front man Myles Kennedy.  That against the string arrangement in this contemplative song, makes for a unique presentation in itself here.   That pairing conjures thoughts of Barry Manilow’s timeless classic ‘Mandy’ (wild, huh?) while the use of the guitars, bass and drums alongside those elements also gives the song more of that neo-classic rock sensibility already established through the record’s first half.  The contrast in that dichotomy makes this song interesting in its own right.  On yet another note, the funky approach to ‘Don’t Turn Around,’ throws back to the soul and R&B sounds of Motown.  Again, the organ plays a big part in that comparison.  The use of the choral style vocals against that organ line and the ‘My Girl’-esque bass line and horns enhances the song even more while still ensuring the song boasts its own identity.  The whole is a presentation that is yet another unique addition to the album’s overall musical body.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s arrangements, the whole makes clear why the record’s musical diversity is so important to the album’s presentation.  It is just one part of what makes the album engaging and entertaining.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements makes for its own appeal.

The lyrical content that is featured in Still Dirty is important to address because on one level it follows one central theme – relationships – for the most part.  On another level, the way in which that central theme is addressed makes it fully accessible.  Audiences get songs of love found in songs, such as ‘She Likes To Party,’ ‘I’m Your Man’ and ‘Don’t Turn Around’ while ‘See You Again,’ and ‘Can’t Give It’ tale pm the relationship topic on the opposite end of that spectrum.    Getting off topic a bit, the piano and strings in ‘See You Again’ pairs (once again) with Rodgers’ vocal delivery in this case to not only sound like Kennedy, but also Elton John.  Interestingly enough, Rodgers and company do take on an Elton John classic in ‘Take Me To The Pilot.’  That song is yet another of the works featured in this record that takes on the so common theme of relationships.  For all of the talk of relationships that dominates this record, it is not the album’s only theme.  ‘Across The Galaxy’ is a deeply moving existential contemplation in which the song’s subject seems to contemplate his purpose in life.  That in itself is a familiar theme across the musical universe.  Because of that and how it is delivered, it proves just as accessible as the album’s other songs.  ‘I Can Still Feel It’ is another existential type work.  In this case though, the song’s subject is looking back while also looking forward, celebrating what has been and what is to come.  The horns, organ and guitar pair with the vocals here (again, getting somewhat off topic) to make this song very similar to another even far more popular classic work.  Audiences will be left to discover that similarity for themselves.  On yet another note, ‘Tortuga,’ the album’s penultimate entry, is just a fun, random party type composition both musically and lyrically.  It is another break from the more common theme of relationships that permeates the album.  Between this song and the others examined here, the overall accessibility of Still Dirty’s lyrical content becomes clearer, as does the importance of that accessibility.  When all of this is considered along with the album’s musical content, the whole makes the album that much more enjoyable.  The collective content featured in Still Dirty is only part of what makes the album successful.  The sequencing thereof brings everything together and completes the album’s presentation.

Still Dirty’s sequencing is important in part because it ensures the album’s content avoids any redundancy throughout its 10-song presentation.  The musical styles and sounds change subtly from one song to the next, just enough to show the differences but still keep a certain feel throughout.  The lyrical themes are, again, mostly the same throughout, but the way in which they are handled is just right.  It ensures that even this aspect of the said element changes just enough throughout.  On yet another hand, the sequencing also takes the album’s energy into account.  For the most part, the album’s energy remains relatively high and up-beat.  ‘Across The Galaxy,’ the album’s midpoint, serves as a good breakpoint for the album as it noticeably pulls the album’s energy back.  Next to ‘See You Again,’ the album’s finale, it is the album’s only other reserved song.  This song might have been better served by being moved up slightly by one or two tracks, but that is a moot point at this rate.  Either way, it and ‘Across The Galaxy’ ensure collectively, the album’s energy does its own part to keep listeners engaged and entertained in the record.  Keeping this overall importance of the album’s sequencing in mind along with the importance of the album’s content, the whole makes Still Dirty a great presentation and one more of this year’s best new independent albums.

Kris Rodgers and the Dirty Gems’ new forthcoming album Still Dirty is a surprisingly enjoyable offering.  It is a presentation that will appeal easily just as much to the act’s established audiences as to newer listeners.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question blend influences of classic and modern rock for some of its content.  At other points, there is also some R&B and soul influence.  At others still, there is a sort of pop influence infused into the music.  That diversity offers plenty for audiences to appreciate in itself.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements adds to the album’s appeal.  That is because of its overall accessibility both in its themes and how those themes are presented.  The sequencing of that collective content brings everything together, ensuring even more, audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  That is because it changes things up just enough from one song to the next from beginning to end.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this album.  All things considered, they make Still Dirty a success for Rodgers and company and for their new label home.  Still Dirty is scheduled for release Friday through Wicked Cool Records.

More information on Kris Rodgers and the Dirty Gems’ new single and album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.kridrodgersmusic.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/krisrodgersmusic

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/krodgersmusic

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Dr. Mike Bogle’s Latest LP Is An Interesting Addition To This Year’s Field Of New Jazz Albums

Courtesy: MBP/Groove!

Never judge a book (or an album) by its cover.  That is the lesson to be learned from Let There Be Light, the latest album from jazz artist Dr. Mike Bogle.  Released July 1 through MBP/Groove!, the six song record is in direct contrast to the picture of Bogle on the record’s cover.  His long, blonde locks and menacing look makes him look more like a mad metal scientist than jazz artist, but the content featured in this 45-minute record proves otherwise.  That content is at the heart of the album’s success and will be discussed shortly.  While the content does much to make this record worth hearing, the album (his seventh overall) is not perfect.  It lacks any liner notes to help explain the songs’ inspiration and creation.  As active as the songs are, it certainly would have been nice to know what was Bogle’s mindset as he created each song.  Instead, this aspect detracts from the record’s presentation.  It is not enough to make the album a failure, but certainly would have gone a long way toward making the album more engaging and entertaining.  The album’s production works with the arrangements themselves to make this album an interesting presentation that is worth hearing occasionally.

Dr. Mike Bogle’s recently released album, Let There Be Light is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.  Its interest is centered mainly on its featured arrangements.  The arrangements present a wide array of sounds and stylistic approaches from one to the next.  ‘Positano’ for instance, is a light, lounge-type composition.  Its mix of keyboards, guitar, steel drums, and bass however, gives that familiar stylistic approach and sound such a unique identity that replaces the typically cheesy sound of such arrangements and makes it far more appealing.  By comparison, the album’s title track, which clocks in at more than six-and-a-half minutes, is more of a fusion type work.  That is evidenced through the combination of Bogle’s stylized vocals (which sound kind of like scatting), and keyboards against the subtle work of drummer Harrell Bosarge and bassist Buddy Mohmed.  The production here deserves the credit what with the way that it modulated the vocals and accented the instrumentation.  On yet another note, Bogle and company’s take on Pee Wee Ellis’ ‘The Chicken’ (the album’s only cover tune) does stay true to its source material, but at the same time, gives it a new identity here.  Instead of just copying and pasting, the group opens the song with a bit of a gospel influence what with the use of the organ, bass, and drums.  One can almost see the choir standing there singing (even though this is fully instrumental) before the group changes things again and moves in a more funky tropical vibe.  Not only is this a stark change in stylistic approach from the original song, but it is just as much a departure from the other songs featured in the album.  It shows once more, the diversity in the arrangements.  Between the songs examined here and the album’s three remaining songs, the whole of the record’s musical content shows that it has much to offer audiences.

While the diverse musical arrangements featured in Let There Be Light form a strong foundation for the album, the record is not perfect.  Its one shortcoming comes as it lacks any liner notes.  This means that there is no background on any of the songs.  Considering that all six songs featured in this album are instrumental, relying solely on song titles is not enough to be able to grasp the stories behind the songs.  That might seem a minor thing, but as noted by this critic so many times, when it comes to instrumental music, such background is needed so as to fully appreciate the songs.  That is because it is possible certain songs might have some special message and/or influence at their center.  To that end, not having any background information does detract from the overall listening experience.  While it does detract from that experience, it is not enough to doom the album, but certainly would have helped that aspect. 

Considering that the impact of the lack of liner notes, there is still one more item to examine here.  That item is the album’s production.  The album’s production is important to address because of the variety in the arrangements.  Most of the arrangements are, again, relatively mid-tempo works.  Their energies and styles are so different, though.  That means that a lot of attention had to be paid to each work in order to make sure no one line stepped on the others at any point.  Those painstaking efforts paid off, too.  Each arrangement allows each musician to shine on his respective part.  The result is that from one song to the next, audiences get the full effect.  That in itself will lead to plenty of engagement and entertainment.  It is a tribute to the work put in by those behind the boards.  Keeping that in mind along with the impact of the songs’ diversity, that whole is enough to make this album worth hearing occasionally. 

Dr. Mike Bogle’s recently released album, Let There Be Light is a presentation that many jazz audiences will find mostly appealing.  That is due in large part to its musical arrangements.  The arrangements are mostly modern style compositions, and are diverse.  There is some fusion influence, some subtle big band influence, some tropical influence and more throughout the album’s 45-minute run time.  While the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements does much to appeal to audiences, the lack of background on the songs detracts from the listening experience to a point.  The negative of that shortcoming is not enough to doom the album, but it still would have been nice to have had that information to enhance the listening experience.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.  It brings out the best of each recording session, making sure each musician’s part is balanced in every work.  It completes the record’s presentation and shows once more why it deserves at least one chance.  All things considered, these elements make Let There Be Light worth hearing occasionally.  The album is available now through MBP/Groove!  More information on the album is available along with all of Dr. Mike Bogle’s latest news at https://www.mikebogle.com.  

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Orrin Evans’ Latest LP Is A Widely Appealing New Offering

Courtesy: Smoke Sessions

Jazz pianist Orrin Evans has had quite the successful career over the span of the past quarter century.  He has worked with the likes of Bobby Watson, Ralph Peterson, and Duane Eubanks over the course of that time.  He has also released more than 20 albums as a band leader, the latest coming in 2019 in the form of The Intabgible Between.  Now two years after its release, Evans is scheduled to release his latest album Friday in the form of The Magic of Now.  Evans’ sixth album for the record label, Smoke Sessions, this record has plenty to offer Evans’ established audiences as well as more casual audiences and jazz fans in general.  The record’s appeal begins with its featured arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The record’s liner notes add their own touch to the presentation and will be addressed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this latest offering from Orrin Evans.  All things considered, they make the album another positive offering from Evans that is certain to engage and entertain audiences.

Orrin Evans’ forthcoming album, The Magic of Now (his sixth for his current label, Smoke Sessions) is a work that will work its magic on audiences.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.  The album’s appeal is due in no small part to its featured arrangements.  The arrangements featured in this 57-minute album are diverse in their sounds and stylistic approaches.  Case in point is the comparison of ‘The Poor Fisherman’ to, say, ‘Levels.’  ‘The Poor Fisherman’ is a subdued, contemplative composition that is grounded in the pairing of Evans’ work on the piano and Immanuel Wilkins’ work on the alto saxophone.  The duo’s performance here is the epitome of the old adage that it is more about the notes you don’t play than those that you do.  The gentle approach that the pair takes here and the spaces between the notes creates such a rich mood.  While the album’s liner notes offer little in the way of background here, one can almost envision a fisher out on sea, maybe on a trawler, standing on deck, chin on his hand as he ruminates on “What Ifs.”  The arrangement here is simply that rich.  By direct contrast, ‘Levels’ is a more upbeat composition.  Wilkins’ work on the saxophone is the core of the arrangement while drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Vicente Archer add their own touches to the work alongside Evans on piano.  Stewart’s ability to utilize every bit of his kit without losing a beat is impressive to say the least.  Even the flare that he adds with the subtle cymbal crashes works so well here.  At points, the group leans in something of a bop style direction, making for the noted contrast.  That contrast is a clear example of the diversity in the album’s arrangements and hardly the only one.  ‘Momma Loves,’ the album’s penultimate entry,  presents a sound and stylistic approach that while it does have some bop leanings, also aims in a little bit of a smooth jazz direction.  The balance of those two influences, anchored once more by the performance of Wilkins on alto saxophone, makes for its own unique presentation in comparison to the rest of the album’s works.  As if that is not enough proof of the importance of the album’s arrangements, a listen to ‘Libra’ shows yet another unique work.  The opening piano line, performed by Evans, conjures thoughts of Van Halen’s ‘Dreams.’  As the song progresses though, it starts to lean more in a free jazz direction, with Evans’ piano line and Stewart’s drumming starting to move all over the place.  Interestingly enough, neither they nor their band mates miss even one beat or note along the way.  The dichotomy here of those two distinctly different styles and sounds and their balance is something truly special and shows even more the noted diversity presented throughout the course of the album’s musical body.  Between everything noted here and the rest of the album’s musical arrangements, the overall content forms a strong foundation for the record’s presentation.  This is just one of the aspects that makes the album a success.  The liner notes featured in the album add their own layer of appeal.

The liner notes featured in The Magic of Now – crafted by Angelika Beener — are important because of the background that they offer on each of the album’s songs.  As noted already, not a lot of background is offered in regards to ‘The Poor Fisherman.’  What is offered however, is that its instrumentation is meant to create a narrative sense to the song.  It succeeds in that approach, too.  On another hand, the liner notes also point out that the arrangement that audiences hear in ‘Levels’ actually happened entirely by accident.  The whole story will be left for audiences to learn themselves, but the brief explanation is that it involved the group recording the song while wearing masks, thus hindering communication between the musicians.  Understanding all of this, one cannot help but agree that the result is still engaging and entertaining.  It is one more example of how that background information enhances the album’s listening experience.  Yet another example of the importance of the liner notes comes in the discussion on ‘The Eleventh Hour.’  According to the song’s brief but concise notes, the song was 25 years in the making.  Needless the say, the quarter century wait was worth it.  Here again, the full story of how it came to be included in the album will be left for audiences to learn for themselves.  It is yet another way in which the album’s liner notes show their importance.  It shows, along with the other addressed liner notes and those featured with the rest of the songs, how much they add to the album’s general effect and is just one more element that makes the album worth hearing.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The Magic Of Now’s sequencing is important in large part because of the run times in each song.  The shortest of the nearly hour-long record’s seven total songs is three minutes, 43 seconds.  It is the album’s closer.  By contrast, the album’s longest track – its opener – clocks in at 13 minutes, 48 seconds.  Between those two songs, the album’s songs range in time from eight to nine minutes each.  This is important to note because it means that this album is not for audiences who have short attention spans.  Those run times require audiences’ full attention.  Now on an even deeper level, the content within those songs never really gets too slow or fast at any given point.  So even with such long run times, the songs still manage to keep audiences engaged, even considering this aspect.  On another level, the songs’ styles and energies change just enough from one to the next to ensure audiences are never left feeling bored or left behind, either.  As has already been discussed, the arrangements offer a diverse range of sounds and approaches.  The energies in those works is relatively stable from beginning to end.  What’s more, the placement of ‘The Poor Fisherman’ and ‘Dave’ makes for solid breakpoints for the record.  It changes things up just enough throughout that once more, audiences will have that much more appreciation for this record.  When this is considered along with the impact of the album’s overall content, the whole makes The Magic of Now a presentation that will definitely cast its own spell on listeners.

Orrin Evans’ latest album, The Magic of Now is a presentation that audiences will agree is a positive new offering from the veteran jazz pianist.  Its appeal comes in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements feature a wide range of sounds and stylistic approaches.  There is some free jazz, some cool jazz, and even some bebop featured throughout the course of the record’s seven total songs.  That itself will appeal to plenty of audiences.  The liner notes featured with the album add some interesting background to the songs.  It is not necessarily the background that one might desire, in terms of the inspiration behind the songs, but it still provides its own appeal.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  It ensures audiences’ engagement and entertainment through a clear, planned layout in regards to the album’s energies and variance in sounds and styles.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this record.  All things considered, these elements make The Magic of Now a presentation that Evans’ established audiences will enjoy just as much as new audiences and jazz fans in general.  The Magic of Now is scheduled for release Friday through Smoke Sessions.  More information on the album is available along with all of Orrin Evans’ latest news at https://orrinevansmusic.com  

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

‘Human: The World Within’ Is A Fully Accessible Look At How Our Bodies Work

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

The human body is such an interesting structure.  That is because it is so contradictory in itself.  It is made of thousands of miles of nerves, veins, and full of fluids and organs (at least two of which – tonsils and the appendix – are not even needed).  For all of its immense complexity, the human body is so frail and fragile.  As the past year-plus has shown, it is so simple for humans to fall sick and worse.  All it takes is one virus for the human body to fail, even being so complex.  PBS examines that contradicting duality of the human body in its recently released documentary, Human: The World Within, showing just how deep it runs.  Having originally aired May 5, the six-part program was released on DVD June 22 through PBS Distribution.  This five and a half hour documentary will appeal widely to medical students, those of the biological sciences, and anyone with any interest in said topics.  That is due in no small part to its content, which will be discussed shortly.  The presentation of said content adds to the documentary’s appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this presentation.  All things considered, they make the documentary just as appealing to the noted audiences in its home release as in its recent TV presentation.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s Human: The World Within is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  That is due in large part to its topic.  As the documentary’s title suggests, it focuses on all of the inner workings of the human body.  More specifically, it examines each of the body’s systems – circulatory, reproductive, digestive, immune, nervous, and sensory – and how each does its own part to make the human body work.  One of the most interesting of the segments focuses on the circulatory system.  Viewers will find interesting, that the circulatory system can actually be “trained” in a manner of speaking.  This is explained through a profile of a woman living in Colorado who spends her free time scaling ice walls.  It is explained here that because of her choice of free-time activity, her circulatory system works differently than that of most other people.  It can handle environments in which oxygen levels are lower, whereas more “normal” people would have far less chance of survival in such situations.  As another example of the interest in the segments, “Birth” — which focuses on the reproductive system — is more than just a refresher on how the system works.  It explains that sometimes the body’s reproductive system can and does fail, leading to an issue, such as a miscarriage.  It is an emotionally difficult incident, but understanding it from a biological aspect might help some families make better sense of those sad events, leading to more ability to cope.  “React,” which opens the documentary, presents its own interesting explanations of how the body’s nervous system works.  It helps understand how back pain is connected to the nervous system, for instance, and how the so-called funny bone is also connected to the body’s nervous system.  It is just one more way in which the content proves so important to the documentary’s presentation.

Staying on the matter of the content, it is delivered through a mix of narration, discussion from medical professionals, and average, everyday people.  From a cell phone technician, to a distance runner, to a boxer, to the noted ice climber and more, the discussions from these noted everyday figures will connect with viewers.  That is because viewers will see themselves in these figures even more than the medical professionals. The medical professionals who are also featured here present their discussion in simple terms, rather than trying to use complex language.  This ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment even more.  Making for even more engagement and entertainment is the general fashion in which the documentary is presented.

The documentary is presented through six separate segments.  Each segment runs just under an hour.  The separation of the segments encourages audiences to watch the documentary at their own pace.  This means that as audiences do watch each segment, they are more inclined to remain engaged in each discussion.  The segments’ run times create their own psychological impact.  The impact in question is that audiences will be more comfortable take the time to watch.  That overall encouragement to watch will ensure viewers will catch everything discussed in each, especially considering the segments’ pacing.  Taking that into account along with the content itself, this proves even more, just how much the program has to offer viewers.

The content featured in Human: The World Within and its overall delivery style does much to make this documentary appealing.  It is, collectively just a portion of what makes the program so appealing.  The documentary’s packaging in its home release rounds out its most important elements.  The packaging finds the documentary split into two discs, with three segments each on each disc.  The discs are placed on their own spindle separate from one another inside the standard size DVD case.  The separation of the discs inside the case ensures the discs will not get marred in any way since they cannot touch one another at any point.  The use of a standard size DVD case saves space on viewers’ DVD/BD racks.  This creates its own appeal.  These two items are each positive aesthetic elements.  When they are considered along with the documentary’s content and its overall presentation, the documentary in whole proves a complete success.

PBS and PBS Distribution’s recently released documentary Human: The World Within is a program that proves a successful presentation that its targeted audiences will enjoy.  Its appeal comes in large part through its content.  The content in question focuses on the body’s systems and how they make the body work in their various ways.  The relatively simple way in which each is examined makes that content accessible for any viewer.  The separation of the content into segments – each of which runs less than an hour – adds to the appeal.  That is because it will encourage audiences to watch each portion that much more.  The documentary’s packaging will appeal to audiences because of its aesthetic value.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the documentary.  All things considered, they make the documentary just as appealing on DVD as in its TV premiere.  Human: The World Within is available now.  More information on this and other titles from PBS and PBS Distribution is available at:

Website: https://www.pbs.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pbs

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pbs


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

‘Star Trek Discovery’ Improves Noticeably In Its Third Season

Courtesy: Paramount+/CBS DVD

Paramount+’s Star Trek series Discovery is a property that has struggled to find its place in the bigger Star Trek universe over the course of its first two seasons.  Of course, the series did show some growth in its second season, offering some hope for the show.  Now in its third season, which is scheduled for release Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray, that growth has continued even more, showing even more potential for its own future.  That is exhibited mainly through its writing, which while not perfect is still key to this season’s success.  While the writing does much to make Season Three a continued improvement for the Discovery franchise, the bonus content detracts slightly from the season’s forthcoming home presentation.  This will be addressed a little later.  Luckily, the detraction that the season’s bonus content causes is not enough to make this season’s presentation a failure.  The acting works with the writing to continue showing the noted growth.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Star Trek Discovery: Season Three’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the season such that longtime Star Trek fans will agree is another improvement in this series.

Paramount+ and CBS DVD’s forthcoming home release of Star Trek Discovery: Season Three is a presentation that brings the series another step forward in its ongoing growth.  That is due in large part to the season’s writing.  The writing stands out because while it ensures the season is still serialized, there is more going on within the season.  Instead of just one central story, the writers create two central stories – Burham’s efforts to reunite with the Discovery crew, the crew’s efforts to find the source of “the burn,” and the crew’s efforts to rebuild the Federation.  Along the way, the writers also developed story lines within those larger stories that allow the rest of the crew to shine (E.g. Lt. Detmer’s dealing with what is essentially PTSD, Tilly’s own personal growth as she comes into her own on board the Discovery, and Emperor Girgio’s own growth and change).  Given, the writers still make Burnham something of a Christ-like figure, ensuring she is at the center of the bigger stories (and crying as much as possible yet again along the way), but seeing the rest of Discovery’s main crew getting their own time in the spotlight is a nice growth.  That the writers were able to keep everything balanced and keep the whole from getting bogged down in itself is definitely worth its own share of applause.

Adding onto everything already noted is the fact that the writers also worked hard this season to bring Discovery into the bigger Star Trek canon through items, such as the introduction of Andorians and Orions, and even Carl (a.k.a. the Guardian of Forever).  The Guardian of Forever reaches all the way back to Star Trek The Original Series, showing once again the attempt to pull this series into canon.  As if all of that is not enough, the discussion of Spock’s attempts to reunite the Vulcans and Romulans is a direct throw back to The Next Generation.  Captain Picard’s name is even directly used in this discussion, which will make even the most devoted viewers happy.  There is even a tribute to Star Trek Voyager at another point, adding for even more appeal.  That the writers did everything noted here without making any of it feel forced is even more impressive.  It results in each episode being that much more engaging and entertaining.

While the writers’ work in this season is unquestionably important to its presentation, the lack of any real discussion on that work in the bonus content detracts somewhat from the season’s presentation on DVD.  That is not to say that the events of Season Three are not addressed.  Quite the opposite is true as a matter of fact.  They are discussed in the home release’s only real worthwhile bonus, “The Voyage of Season 3.”  Audiences are taken from the season premiere to its finale, outlining how the crew grows and changes, and how everything happens.  The one thing that it does not do however, is offer commentary from the cast or crew on how the course was set (no pun intended) throughout the season.  It would have been nice to have known from the show’s creative heads why the surprising source of the burn was chosen for instance.  That one is a bit of a head scratcher with all due respect.  The source of “The Burn” will not be revealed for those who have yet to see Season Three, but again, it just feels like the writers, in this case, just decided to throw something against the wall and see if it sticks.  It is just a little disappointing at least in the mind of this critic.  It is the only real downside to the writing, though.  Considering how much the writers brought Discovery into Star Trek canon this season, it also would have been nice to have received comment from the writers and creative heads about that.  That sadly is absent in this bonus feature, too.  Did the creative heads do this out of reaction to audiences or was this all planned long term?  Audiences are left not knowing this.

Looking at the rest of the bonus content featured this time out, the “Bridge Building” bonus is entertaining in its own right.  Considering how much more the Discovery’s bridge crew is featured this season, this profile of the crew from the actors themselves is a nice added nod to those actors.

Speaking of cast profiles, the profile of cast member Kenneth Mitchell is engaging in its own right, even if it is not necessarily memorable.  Audiences get to hear from Mitchell himself here and learn of how many roles he has played over the course of the series’ now three seasons.  His discussion on being diagnosed with ALS will grip and move audiences, certainly.  It adds a little more appreciation for the character development and widening character portrayals this season too. 

Looking at all of this (and the mostly forgettable “Writer’s Log” bonus feature), the bonus content adds some appeal to this season in its home presentation at best, but because of what it lacks, it also detracts from that presentation.  Luckily, that balance of pro and con here is enough to keep the presentation still mostly positive.

One more item that makes the third season of Star Trek Discovery positive is the acting.  Every cast member serves his or her own positive part in terms of the acting.  That includes Mitchell.  While Mitchell only appears near the season finale, his subtle performance as part of the Emerald Chain and his realization as to what the Emerald Chain is really all about is powerful in its simplicity.  Mitchell shows here a real appreciation for his time on screen, making audiences really connect with him.  On another note, Michelle Yeoh is once again one of the real highlights in terms of the acting.  Her role as Emperor Giorgio, that hard-nosed figure is just so great to take in.  Even the crew appreciated that snappy nature.  Audiences will be left for audiences to figure that out for themselves. On a more subtle note, Linus (David Benjamin Tomlinson) makes for some great subtle comic relief as he tries to figure out how the new Federation badges work, even accidentally breaking up a romantic moment between Burnham and Book.  Yes, she falls in love again, but that development was obvious right from the duo’s meeting in the season premiere.  Tomlinson may not be a key member of the cast, but he is used so well even as a lesser member of the crew and deserves his own share of applause.  Between his work, that of the other cast members addressed here and that of the rest of the cast, the overall acting does a lot to make this season enjoyable in its own right.  When it is considered along with the positives of the writing and even some of the positives in the bonus content (as few as they are), the whole makes the third season of Star Trek Discovery a cast improvement on the series from its first two seasons.  One can only hope that the improvements continue in the now apparently planned fourth season.

The third season of Star Trek Discovery is a noticeable improvement on the series from its first two seasons.  That is evidenced in large part through its writing.  The writing has expanded this season, incorporating more story elements rather than just focusing on one item.  That means also allowing stars other than Sonequa Martin-Green to have the spotlight.  It is a nice change of pace.  Add in the more clear effort by all involved to tie Discovery into Star Trek canon, and the writing creates even more appeal.  While the writing does a lot to make this season appealing, the bonus content that accompanies the season’s home release detracts from the presentation.  That is because while it does offer some background on the season, that background is limited.  Luckily, the character profiles make up for that shortcoming at least to a point.  Keeping that in mind, the few positives in the bonus content make up for the shortcomings to keep the bonus content from dooming the presentation.  Those positives work along with the wholly positive acting to rounds out the most important of the season’s elements.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the season.  All things considered, they make the third season of Star Trek Discovery largely a win and clear improvement on the show from its first two seasons.

Star Trek Discovery Season Three is scheduled for release Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on the series is available online now at:

Websitehttps://cbs.com/shows/star-trek-discovery

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/StarTrekCBS

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/cbs

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

Judas Priest Announces Details For New Box Set

Courtesy: Sony Music

Judas Priest is continuing the celebration of its 50th Anniversary.

The band announced Thursday that it will release a new box set Oct. 15 through Sony Music that collects the band’s entire studio and live catalog along with 13 previously unreleased recordings. Pre-orders are open now for the 41-disc collection, which was restored and mixed by Tom Allom, and mastered by Alex Wharton.

For those who perhaps might already own much of the band’s catalog, a “Reflections Edition” will also release on CD and 2LP platforms.

The listing for the full 29-disc set is noted below.

50 HEAVY METAL YEARS OF MUSIC 
TRACKLISTING

  • CDs housed in mini LP Japanese-style wallets
  • Box set designed by long-time Judas Priest collaborator Mark Wilkinson
  • Includes Ross Halfin photos signed by each band member:

                   Rob Halford

                   Glenn Tipton 

                   Ian Hill

                   Richie Faulkner 

                   Scott Travis

  • Numbered British Steel metal razor blade (blunt)
  • Memorabilia book featuring rare photos, posters, adverts and passes 
  • Replica British Steel tour programme
  • Two Replica Tour posters from:

                  British Steel 1980 German Tour
                  Defenders Of The Faith 1984 European Tour

CD1 – Rocka Rolla 

CD2 – Sad Wings of Destiny  

CD3 – Sin After Sin (1977) 

CD4 – Stained Glass (1978)

CD5 – Killing Machine – (1978)

CD6 – Unleashed In the East (Live in Japan 1979) 

CD7 – British Steel 

CD8 – Point Of Entry 

CD9 – Screaming for Vengeance 

CD10 – Defenders of the Faith

CD11 – Turbo 

CD12 & CD13 – Priest… Live! 

CD14 – Ram It Down

CD15 – Painkiller

CD16 – Jugulator

CD17 & CD18  – ’98 Live Meltdown

CD19 – Demolition 

CD20 & CD21 – Live in London 

CD22 – Angel of Retribution 

CD23 – Nostradamus (Act 1) & CD24 – Nostradamus (Act 2) 

CD25 – A Touch Of Evil Live 

CD26 & CD27 – Redeemer of Souls 

CD29 – Firepower 


5 previously unreleased live stereo recordings from the archives
Restored and edited by Tom Allom at La Cucina W8
Mastered by Alex Wharton at Abbey Road Studios, London


CD30 & CD31 – Live In Atlanta ’82 (Previously Unreleased)

CD30
The Hellion / Electric Eye
Riding on the Wind
Heading Out to the Highway
Metal Gods 
Bloodstone
Breaking the Law
Sinner
Desert Plains
The Ripper
Diamonds and Rust 

CD31
Devils Child
Screaming for Vengeance
You’ve Got Another Thing Coming 
Victim of Changes
Living After Midnight
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown)
Hell Bent For Leather 

CD32 – Live At The Mudd Club ’79
Hell Bent For Leather  
Delivering The Goods 
Running Wild 
Beyond The Realms Of Death 
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown) 
Victim Of Changes 
Rock Forever 
Starbreaker 

CD33 & CD34 – Live In Houston ’86 

CD33
Out In The Cold 
Locked In 
Heading Out To The Highway 
Metal Gods 
Breaking The Law 
Love Bites 
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll 
The Sentinel 
Private Property 
Desert Plains 
Rock You All Around The World 

CD34
The Hellion/ Electric Eye  
Turbo Lover
Freewheel Burning 
Victim Of Changes 
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown) 
Living After Midnight 
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Hell Bent For Leather

CD35 & CD36 – Live In New Haven ’88 

CD35
The Hellion/ Electric Eye 
Metal Gods 
Sinner 
Breaking The Law 
Come And Get It 
I’m a Rocker 
The Sentinel 
The Ripper 
Beyond The Realms Of Death 
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll 

CD36
Turbo Lover  
Ram It Down 
Heavy Metal 
Victim Of Changes 
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown) 
Living After Midnight 
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ 
Hell Bent For Leather 

CD37 – Los Angeles ’90 (Previously Unreleased)
Riding on the Wind
Grinder
Heading Out to the Highway
Between the Hammer & the Anvil
Bloodstone
Better by You, Better Than Me
Leather Rebel
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown) 
Hell Bent for Leather 
You’ve Got Another Thing Coming 

CD38 – London ’81(Previously Unreleased)
Solar Angels Intro / Heading Out to the Highway
Metal Gods
Hell Bent for Leather
Breaking the Law
Sinner
Beyond the Realms of Death
Grinder
Desert Plains
You Don’t Have to Be Old to Be Wise 
Victim of Changes
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown)

CD39 – Denver ’80 (Previously Unreleased)
Hell Bent for Leather
The Ripper
Running Wild 
Living After Midnight 
Sinner
Beyond the Realms of Death 
You Don’t Have to Be Old to Be Wise
Grinder
Victim of Changes
Steeler
Genocide 
Tyrant
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown)

CD40 – Irvine ’91 (Previously Unreleased)
Hell Bent for Leather 
Heading Out to the Highway
The Hellion / Electric Eye
Diamonds and Rust
All Guns Blazing
Metal Gods
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll 
The Ripper
Night Crawler
Turbo Lover
A Touch of Evil 
Painkiller
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown)
Breaking the Law
Living After Midnight
You’ve Got Another Thing Coming

CD41 & CD42 – Beyond Live & Rare
Previously unreleased stereo recordings from the archives


CD41
Epitaph (Studio Demo) Demo from 1976’s Sad Wings Of Destiny 
Solar Angels (Live) July 22, 1981 – New York, NY – The Palladium 
Sinner (Live) July 22, 1981 – New York, NY – The Palladium 
Desert Plains (Live) July 22, 1981 – New York, NY – The Palladium 
You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise (Live) July 22, 1981 – New York, NY – The Palladium 
Genocide (Live) May 09, 1978 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theatre 
Victim Of Changes (Live) May 09, 1978 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theatre 
Ripper (Live) May 09, 1978 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theatre 
Screaming For Vengeance (Live) November 24, 1982 – Tucson, AZ – Tucson Convention Center 
The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown) (Live) June 07, 1981 – Odessa, TX – Ector County Coliseum 
Victim of Changes (Live) June 07, 1981 – Odessa, TX – Ector County Coliseum 

CD42
Tyrant (Live) June 07, 1981 – Odessa, TX – Ector County Coliseum 
Diamonds and Rust (Live) February 14, 1981 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Jaap Edenhal 
White Heat Red Hot (Live) July 29, 1978 – Tokyo, Japan – Yuubin Chokin Hall 
Better By You Better Than Me (Live) July 29, 1978 – Tokyo, Japan – Yuubin Chokin Hall 
Starbreaker (Live) July 29, 1978 – Tokyo, Japan – Yuubin Chokin Hall 
Rock Forever (Live) Killing Machine Tour – February 09, 1979 – Tokyo, Japan – Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan 
Evil Fantasies (Live) Killing Machine Tour – February 09, 1979 – Tokyo, Japan – Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan 
Troubleshooter (Live) World Wide Blitz Tour – February 29, 1981 – Wiesbaden, Germany – Rhein-Main-Halle 
Grinder (Live) World Wide Blitz Tour – February 29, 1981 – Wiesbaden, Germany – Rhein-Main-Halle 
The Sentinel (Live) May 02, 1984 – Albuquerque, NM – Tingley Coliseum 
Freewheel Burning (Live) May 02, 1984 – Albuquerque, NM – Tingley Coliseum 
All Guns Blazing (Live) August 17, 1991 – Montreal, QC, Canada – Forum de Montreal 
Painkiller (Live) March 26, 1991 – Sheffield, England – Sheffield City Hall 
Mother Sun (Live) October 11, 1975 – Slough, England – Slough College

The track listing for the Reflections Edition is noted below.

REFLECTIONS – 50 HEAVY METAL YEARS OF MUSIC
1CD

Let Us Prey / Call for the Priest  
You Don’t Have to Be Old to Be Wise  
Fever  
Eat Me Alive  
All Guns Blazing  
Never The Heroes  
Dissident Aggressor (Live)  
Out in the Cold (Live)  
Judas Priest – Running Wild (Live)  
*Victim Of Changes (Live)  (May 09, 1978 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theatre)
*The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown) (Live)  (Point of Entry ‘Worldwide Blitz’ Tour – Live in Hammersmith, London – November 21, 1981 – Foundations Forum – Hammersmith Odeon)
*Bloodstone (Live) (Screaming For Vengeance World Vengeance Tour – Live in Atlanta, GA – December 11, 1982 – The Omni)
*Judas Priest – The Ripper (Live)  (Irvine, CA – July 12, 1991 – Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre)
*Beyond the Realms of Death (Live) (Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather Tour – Live In New York, NY – March 11, 1979 – The Mudd Club)
*The Hellion / Electric Eye (Live) (Turbo ‘Fuel For Life’ Tour – Live In Houston, TX – June 21, 1986 – The Summit)
*Sinner (Live) (Ram It Down ‘Mercenaries Of Metal’ Tour – Live In New Haven, CT – August 7, 1988 – New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum)
 
*previously unreleased
 
REFLECTIONS – 50 HEAVY METAL YEARS OF MUSIC 
2LP DOUBLE GATEFOLD RED VINYL, 180GSM

 
SIDE A 
Let Us Prey / Call for the Priest  
You Don’t Have to Be Old to Be Wise  
Fever  
Eat Me Alive  
 
SIDE B
All Guns Blazing  
Never The Heroes  
Dissident Aggressor (Live)  
Out in the Cold (Live)  
Judas Priest – Running Wild (Live)  
 
SIDE C *previously unreleased*
Victim Of Changes (Live)  (May 09, 1978 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theatre)
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown) (Live)  (Point of Entry ‘Worldwide Blitz’ Tour – Live in Hammersmith, London – November 21, 1981 – Foundations Forum – Hammersmith Odeon)
Bloodstone (Live) (Screaming For Vengeance World Vengeance Tour – Live in Atlanta, GA – December 11, 1982 – The Omni)
Judas Priest – The Ripper (Live)  (Irvine, CA – July 12, 1991 – Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre)
 
SIDE D *previously unreleased*
Beyond the Realms of Death (Live) (Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather Tour – Live In New York, NY – March 11, 1979 – The Mudd Club)
The Hellion / Electric Eye (Live) (Turbo ‘Fuel For Life’ Tour – Live In Houston, TX – June 21, 1986 – The Summit)
Sinner (Live) (Ram It Down ‘Mercenaries Of Metal’ Tour – Live In New Haven, CT – August 7, 1988 – New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum)

Courtesy: Chipster PR

In other news, Judas Priest announced last month, details for its upcoming 50th anniversary tour. The tour’s schedule is noted below. Tickets are available here. Sabaton will serve as support for the tour.

CONFIRMED TOUR DATES: 
 
9/8/2021 Reading  PA                      Santander Arena* 
9/9/2021 Virginia Beach VA             Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater*+ 
9/11/2021 Orlando FL                      Central Florida Fairgrounds^# 
9/13/2021 Charlotte NC                   PNC Music Pavilion 
9/14/2021 Raleigh NC                      Red Hat Amphitheater* 
9/16/2021 Grand Rapids MI             Van Andel Arena* 
9/17/2021 Youngstown OH              Covelli Centre^ 
9/19/2021 Detroit MI                         Fox Theatre* 
9/20/2021 Rosemont IL                    Rosemont Theatre* 
9/22/2021 Milwaukee WI                  Miller High Life Theatre^ 
9/23/2021 Minneapolis MN              The Armory* 
9/25/2021 Maryland Heights MO     Saint Louis Music Park 
9/26/2021 Louisville KY                    Louder Than Life Festival^# 
9/29/2021 Denver CO                      The Mission Ballroom^ 
9/30/2021 West Valley City UT         Maverik Center* 
10/2/2021 Everett WA                       Angel Of The Winds Arena* 
10/3/2021 Portland OR                     Moda Center* 
10/5/2021 Oakland CA                      Fox Theater^ 
10/6/2021 Los Angeles CA                Microsoft Theater^ 
10/8/2021 Las Vegas NV                   Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood 
10/9/2021 Phoenix AZ                       Arizona Federal Theatre 
10/12/2021 San Antonio TX              Freeman Coliseum^ 
10/13/2021 Cedar Park TX                HEB Center Cedar Park^ 
10/15/2021 Irving TX                         The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory 
10/16/2021 Oklahoma City OK          The Zoo Amphitheatre^ 
10/19/2021 Independence MO          Cable Dahmer Arena* 
10/21/2021 Nashville TN                    Nashville Municipal Auditorium* 
10/22/2021 Alpharetta GA                  Ameris Bank Amphitheatre* 
10/24/2021 Charleston WV                Charleston Civic Center Coliseum* 
10/25/2021 Philadelphia PA               The Met* 
10/27/2021 Newark NJ                       Prudential Center* 
10/28/2021 Oxon Hill MD                   The Theater at MGM National Harbor 
10/30/2021 Mashantucket CT            Foxwoods Resort Casino – Grand Theater^ 
10/31/2021 Lowell MA                       Tsongas Center At UMass Lowell* 
11/2/2021 Halifax NS                         Scotiabank Centre* 
11/4/2021 Laval , QC                         Place Bell* 
11/5/2021 Hamilton ONT                   First Ontario Centre*

* new show
^ not a Live Nation event
# festival date
+ Sabaton not support on this date; support is TBD

More information on Judas Priest’s new tour schedule is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttps://www.JudasPriest.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/OfficialJudasPriest

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/judaspriest

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

Memphis May Fire Gets Philosophical With New Single, Video; Launches Non-Profit Fundraiser With New Merch

Courtesy: Atom Splitter PR

Memphis May Fire is taking on humans’ thoughts on mortality in its new single.

The band debuted its new single, ‘Death Inside‘ and its video Tuesday. The band took a unique, previously unexplored approach to ‘Death Inside’ in comparison to its existing body of work. The band’s familiar melodic metalcore approach and sound is present here, but at the same time, this arrangement also incorporates something of a nu-metal/rap-rock approach in the verses. The pairing of that unique approach alongside the band’s more familiar sound makes the song’s overall arrangement such that it will generate some discussion among audiences.

Front man Matty Mullins talked about the new approach during a recent interview.

“‘Death Inside’ is a new flavor for MMF,” said Mullins. “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone with the vocals on this one and ended up discovering a sound that I think really caters to the concept.”

Additionally, he talked about how that approach connected to the song’s philosophical lyrical theme, stating, “The song is about fear of death and the choice to either let it consume you or live life to the fullest.”

In related news, Memphis May Fire has launched a new fundraising effort to aid the nonprofit organization, Living The Dream. The agency will receive 100 percent of proceeds from sales of the band’s new t-shirt, which is available now in the band’s merchandise store.

Mullins explained of the nonprofit, “LTD helps children and young adults living with life-threatening illnesses stay positive, maintain hope, and appreciate each and every day, regardless of their affliction.”

The premiere of ‘Death Inside’ comes more than a month after the band premiered the video for its then latest single, ‘Blood & Water.’ The song and its video were the first from the band since the release of its album Broken in 2019. That album produced the singles ‘The Old Me,’ ‘Heavy is the Weight (ft. Andy Mineo)‘ and ‘You and Me.’

The premiere of ‘Blood & Water’ was also partnered with the launch of a related fundraiser for Bridges DVC Nashville. One hundred percent of the sales from the band’s two new merchandise designs benefitted the center, which serves men, women, and children affected by domestic violence in the greater Nashville, TN region.

In other news, Memphis May Fire will perform two live shows this week. The first performance is scheduled to take place Thursday at the Rock Fest in Cadott, WI. The second is scheduled to take place Friday at the Alive Festival in Mineral City, OH.

More information on Memphis May Fire’s new single, video, fundraiser and tour is available online now at:

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/MemphisMayFire

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/MemphisMayFire

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Set It Off Debuts ‘Happy All The Time (Acoustic)’ Video

Courtesy: Fearless Records

Set It Off premiered the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its acoustic take of its song, ‘Happy All The Time’ Tuesday. The acoustic take is featured in the band’s recently released album, Midnight: The Final Chapter.

The band’s updates take of ‘Happy All The Time,’ which features a guest appearance by Compton Kidz Club and Issues bassist Skyler Acord, is just as enjoyable as the song’s original take.  The horns in the original song are replaced here with an equally light piano line.  The choral element from the original is carried over here to make the acoustic take uplifting, too.  Speaking honestly, the updated, acoustic take can actually be argued to be even more enjoyable than the original, and the original is enjoyable in its own right.

The video for the acoustic take of ‘Happy All The Time’ brings the Compton Kidz Club (an all female chorus) together with the members of Set It Off for the performance. The collective performs the single in a brightly lit setting that looks like a mix of an apartment setting and retail space. It is a unique setting for the uplifting composition.

Front man Cody Carson talked about the updated take of the song during a recent interview.

“With this acoustic version, we seriously stripped it down so you can really appreciate the incredible talents of Skyler Acord on bass and The Compton Kidz Club choir, led by Fred Martin,” said Carson. “It absolutely sends this song over the edge. It’s overflowing with emotion. Enjoy!”

Additionally, Carson talked about the song’s uplifting lyrical message.

“‘Happy All the Time’ has worked its way to bring my absolute favorite song off of Midnight,” he said.  “I am so damn proud of this song and the people involved with it. The message is important to me because we all feel so much pressure to be 100 percent all of the time and it’s SO important to remember that it’s okay to be sad. It also doesn’t hurt that my mom told me that even she puts this song on when she feels down.”

‘Happy All The Time’ is one of three acoustic updates featured in Midnight (The Final Chapter). The record also features acoustic takes of ‘Killer in the Mirror‘ and ‘Lonely Dance.’

Midnight (The Final Chapter) follows the release of Midnight, which Set It Off released in February 2019. Midnight featured the singles ‘Hourglass,’ ‘Midnight Thoughts,’ ‘For You Forever,‘ ‘Dancing With The Devil,’ Lonely Dance‘ and ‘Killer in the Mirror.’

After Midnight, an EP from the band which followed the release of Midnight featured the previously unreleased songs ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ ‘So Predictable‘ and ‘One Single Second.’ The songs were recorded during the Midnight sessions but did not make the final cut for the record.

More information on Set It Off’s forthcoming livestream concert is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.setitoffband.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/setitoffband

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/SetItOff

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

Heaven & Earth’s Latest LP Is Imperfect, But Still Enjoyable

Courtesy: Frontiers Music s.r.l.

More than two decades have passed since Heaven & Earth released its debut album, Windows to the World.  In the time since its release, the band has released four more albums, spending four years at the least and nine at the most between their releases.  The band will match the lesser of those spans Friday when it releases it fifth album, the aptly titled V.  Set for release through Frontiers Music s.r.l., this 12-song album is imperfect but enjoyable nonetheless.  To its positive is its overall musical content, which will be discussed shortly.  The record’s production on the other hand proves somewhat problematic, but not so much so that it dooms the record.  This will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is key in its own way to the whole of the record’s production.  All things considered, V is not a complete success, but nor is it a failure.

Heaven & Earth’s aptly titled fifth album, V is an interesting new offering from the band, which has spent more than two decades establishing itself.  The album proves itself worth hearing in large part through its musical arrangements.  The arrangements exhibit a wide range of sounds and influences.  From hard rock to prog to general rock and even some 80s influence, the band offers audiences a wide range of content.  ‘Never Dream of Dying’ for instance, takes the band in a distinct prog direction.  The whole thing opens with some ominous keyboards and drums, belying that note, but as front man Gianluca Petralia’s vocals join the mix along with the guitars, the whole really develops that noted stylistic approach and sound.  Speaking in precise terms, the whole lends itself to comparison to works from Dream Theater’s early 90s albums, Images and Words and Awake.  On a completely different note, ‘Little Black Dress’ with its upbeat, bluesy arrangement, is more of an early 90s blues rock composition.  The staccato notes from the guitar, the equally tight time keeping, and pronounced bass line do well to make that clear.  It is the polar opposite of the arrangement featured in ‘Never Dream of Dying.’  This is proven even more as the song progresses and a catchy little keyboard line is added to the mix.  On yet another note, ‘Running From The Shadows’ – an even later entry in the record – lends itself to comparison to works from Deep Purple right from its outset.  It is just a solid rock composition, centered around its keyboards and drums in this case, again, just like so many works from Deep Purple.  Even the sound here is so similar to works from Deep Purple.  At the same time it still boasts its own unique identity.  Between these songs and all of the record’s other works, the whole makes clear that the musical content featured in the record is of the utmost importance to its presentation.

While the musical content plays an unquestionably important role in the album’s presentation, the album is not perfect.  There are some occasional issues with the record in terms of its production.  The issues stem from the balance of the vocals and the instrumentations.  Case in point is ‘At The End of the Day.’  The song’s arrangement features a lot of activity throughout its six-minute-plus run time.  The thing is that there is so much going on even in the softer, more contemplative verses, that the vocals sound washed out to a point.  To be more precise, there is a certain airy sense about the vocals throughout, requiring an even closer listen.  The more active moments require even more of an increase in that attention.  Much the same can be said of its predecessor, ‘Nothing To Me,’ the album’s penultimate track.  That slight issue with the imbalance is just as pronounced here.  Maybe it is just the speakers on this critic’s playback system, maybe not.  If not, then this is still something of a concern, especially being that is evidenced in the album’s opener, ‘Drive,’ and to a lesser extent, ‘One In A Million Man.’  So it is not like this is a confined concern.  It seems to happen at various points in the album, enough so that it is noticeable.  Again, maybe the issue stems from the speakers on this critic’s playback device.  However, that it only seems to happen at those given points says otherwise.  Even with this in mind, it still is not enough to make the album a failure.  The record’s sequencing works with the diversity in its musical arrangements to make the record even more appealing.

This record’s sequencing is important to its presentation because it keeps the album’s energy flowing throughout for the most part.  Even in slightly more relaxed moments, such as in the bluesy ‘Poverty’ and the funky Chickenfoot-esque ‘Flim Flam Man’ the album’s energy still remains stable as the songs are still moving even despite being slower.  The only point at which the record really pulls back is in ‘At The End of the Day.’  The reserved feel and tone of this song is in direct contrast to everything else featured in the record.  It honestly might have been better placed somewhere else in the album, considering this.  More specifically, it might have been better suited somewhere closer to the record’s midpoint, in order to break up the album, especially considering the general pacing.  It would have provided audiences more moment to catch their breath.  Either way, the sequencing is still relatively strong here even with this in mind.  Keeping that in mind along with the diversity in the songs’ arrangements, the album in whole still has much to offer audiences.  All things considered, these aspects and the mixed production makes V imperfect, but still enjoyable.

Heaven & Earth’s forthcoming album V is a valiant new offering from the band.  It does offer plenty for audiences to appreciate, such as the diversity in its musical arrangements.  That diversity includes arrangements that exhibit prog influence, as well as blues and pure guitar rock.  It is spread out throughout the album, ensuring that this aspect alone keeps audiences engaged and entertained.  While the diversity in the album’s arrangements offers plenty for audiences to appreciate, the songs’ production is slightly problematic.  There are points throughout the album when the vocals seem somewhat washed out by the instrumentation.  Thankfully this does not happen so much that it dooms the album, though it cannot be ignored.  The record’s sequencing works with the arrangements to add even more appeal.  That is because it keeps the album’s energy fluid throughout.  The only negative to the sequencing comes at its end, with the much more reserved closer.  It is the only truly misplaced addition to the record in regards to the sequencing, so it is also not enough to doom the album.  Keeping all of this in mind, the pros and cons present throughout the album make it imperfect but still enjoyable in its own right.  V is scheduled for release Friday through Frontiers Records s.r.l.

More information on V is available online now along with all of Heaven & Earth’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttps://www.heavenandearthband.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/officialheavenandearth

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/heavenearthband

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.