ESPN College Football Analysts Announce Picks For BCS Bowls

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The holiday season is said to be the most wonderful time of the year.  For college football fans, it’s not Christmas, but the days after that are the most wonderful time of the year.  That’s because the biggest games of the college football season are played in the days after Christmas.  And fans can catch all of the action across the ESPN family of networks and online.  It all starts off New Year’s Day with the 100th Rose Bowl and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.  Number Four Michigan State will face off against Number Five Stanford in the Rose Bowl presented by Vizio at 5pm.  Number Six Baylor and Number Fifteen UCF follow at 8:30pm in the annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

The new year football celebrations continue Thursday, January 2nd with a matchup of Number Three Alabama taking on Number Eleven Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.  That game is slated for an 8:30pm start time.  The Discover Orange Bowl follows the next night at 8:30pm with Number Twelve Clemson taking on Number Seven Ohio State.  That games is also set for an 8:30pm kickoff.  Wrapping up the week of football festivities is the Vizio BCS National Championship next Monday, January 6th.  The one-loss Auburn Tigers will take on the undefeated Florida State Seminoles in college football’s biggest game.

As college football fans across the country get ready for their most wonderful time of the year, ESPN’s college football analysts have made their own predictions as to the winner of each game.  Their picks are listed below.  It should be noted that the analysts in question did not pick the games that they are calling.

ESPN Analysts BCS Picks

Analyst Rose Bowl

#STANvsMSU

Fiesta Bowl

#UCFvsBAY

Sugar Bowl

#OUvsBAMA

Orange Bowl

#CLEMvsOSU

Championship

#FSUvsAUB

Anthony Becht Stanford UCF Alabama Ohio State Florida State
Mike Bellotti Stanford Baylor Alabama Ohio State Florida State
Kevin Carter Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Florida State
Todd Blackledge Stanford Baylor Clemson
Ed Cunningham Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Florida State
Joey Galloway Michigan State Baylor Alabama Clemson Florida State
Rod Gilmore Stanford Alabama Ohio State Auburn
Brian Griese Stanford Baylor Alabama Ohio State Florida State
Brock Huard Michigan State Baylor Alabama Ohio State Florida State
Danny Kanell Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Florida State
Tom Luginbill Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Auburn
Brett McMurphy Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Florida State
Jesse Palmer Stanford Baylor Alabama Ohio State Florida State
Chris Spielman Michigan State Alabama Florida State
Matt Stinchcomb Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Auburn
Andre Ware Michigan State

 

More information on all of the week’s upcoming BCS games is available online at http://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN, http://espn.go.com/ncf/index, and http://twitter.com/espncfb.  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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Tebow Added To SEC Network, ESPN Staff

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Former college football standout Tim Tebow had a hard time finding his place in the NFL.  But now, it looks like the former Florida Gator star will be hanging up his cleats in favor of a suit and tie.  That’s because he has been hired by the SEC Network.  Tebow will serve as an analyst for the networks’ pre-game show SEC Nation.  The terms of his deal also include contributions on ESPN’s SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and ESPN’s annual Heisman Trophy award show coverage.  Tebow will make his ESPN debut on Monday, January 6th.  He will serve as an analyst for ESPN’s pre-game coverage of the 2013 Vizio BCS National Championship.  Audiences can catch his contributions on SportsCenter at 9am, College Football Live at 3pm, and College GameDay Built By The Home Depot at 7pm.

Along with his duties on ESPN, Tebow will also be part of the fledgling SEC Network’s studio coverage of college football’s new College Football Playoffs.  The new playoff system begins with the 2014 college football season.  Tebow is the first college football analyst signed by the new network.  He will be joined Joe Tessitore and Paul Finebaum.  Tessitore is the lead ringside announcer for ESPN’s Friday Night Fights and will be host of SEC Nation.  Finebaum is host of The Paul Finebaum radio show.  The very first edition of SEC Nation will broadcast live Thursday, August 28th from Columbia, South Carolina where the Gamecocks of South Carolina will host the Aggies of Texas A&M University.  The SEC Network will have exclusive coverage of the game.  The weekly pre-game show will make its two-hour Saturday debut on Saturday, August 30 from 10am – noon.  That broadcast will come live from the campus of Auburn, where the Tigers will host the Arkansas Razorbacks.  SEC Nation will air every Saturday throughout the college football season.  It will offer a comprehensive look at all of the biggest of each week’s college football matchups.

More information on Tebow, the SEC Network and SEC Nation is available online at http://www.secdigitalnetwork.com/.  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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Black Sabbath Live Is 2013’s Last Great Live Recording

Courtesy:  Universal Republic/Vertigo Records

Courtesy: Universal Republic/Vertigo Records

It’s getting ever more expensive to attend a live concert nowadays.  The cost of a pair of tickets alone can run a person well over a hundred dollars.  Factor in the cost of gas, food, souvenirs, and potentially even lodging, and a person can spend quite a bit on just one concert.  The cost of tickets alone is about to go up even more in 2014 for residents of one state thanks to a new tax law that will go into effect in 2014.  Taking all of this into account, it becomes increasingly wise to just pick up a live recording of one’s favorite band, musician, or musical group.  The question is which live releases are well worth the one-time cost for audiences that would rather save some money while enjoying a great concert?  One recommendation is Black Sabbath’s new live Blu-ray and DVD, Black Sabbath Live..Gathered in their Masses.  The first live recording from the band in many years, this live concert recording is one of the best live recordings of 2013. It is so worthwhile first and foremost because of its set list.  The show’s set list more than lives up to the oft-used term, career-spanning.  Just as important to note in this concert is the band’s very performance.  While one band member is noticeably absent, he is replaced quite effectively by another individual.  And his frenetic energy combined with that of the remaining original members exudes something almost magical.  Last but not least important to consider in this concert is the audio and video mix.  Both the audio and video are expertly mixed.  The camera crews take viewers up close with the band throughout the near two-hour concert.  It only adds to that magical sense, completing the overall presentation and making this new recording one that fans both of Black Sabbath and hard rock in general will enjoy time and again.

The term “career-defining” is far too often tossed around for live performances.  Far too many of those recordings are in fact anything but career defining.  In the case of Black Sabbath though, that term is more than deserved.  The band includes nearly every one of the hits that have continued to make it the paramount band that it has remained for decades despite being inactive just as long.  ‘War Pig’s’ opens the show as are the equally beloved ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Black Sabbath.’  It’s all bookended by another massive hit in ‘Paranoid.’  Those that are hoping for something more recent get that, too in the form of ‘Methademic’, ‘End of the Beginning’ and ‘God Is Dead?’  These songs comprise just part of the band’s extensive set list.  There are plenty more songs included in this show that play into its success.  Audiences will each have their favorites when they pick up the new recording for themselves on Blu-ray and DVD.

The set list chosen for this concert is part of the heart of the concert’s success.  Just as important to the success of the recording is the band’s onstage presence.  It’s incredible to think how many years had passed since Ozzy, Geezer, and Tony had performed together under the Black Sabbath moniker.  Drummer Bill Ward was not on hand.  Allegedly there are some hurt feelings between him and his now former band mates for some reason.  That’s not what’s important here, though.  Tommy Clufetos, who records and tours with Ozzy’s own band, handles drum duties on this concert.  And he more than handles his appointed duties, too.  He plays with the same intensity of a young John Bonham.  That’s evident both in the case of his work with the rest of the band and on his solos.  The rest of the band seems to feed off of Clufetos’ energy, too.  That energy is evident throughout the band’s performance, too.  The band may be years older, but they definitely got their audience just as energetic and excited.  Home viewers will feel it, too.  And that’s just one more aspect of this recording that makes it one of the year’s best.

The set list and stage presence of Ozzy and company are both extremely important in the overall enjoyment of Black Sabbath’s new live recording.  There is still one more factor to consider in examining this recording.  That factor is the recording’s combined audio and video mix.  The audio and video mix of any live recording is its foundation.  Far too often, people take this factor for granted.  But there are those recordings that suffer in these areas because of someone that is either inexperienced or simply doesn’t care to do their job the right way. Luckily for Black Sabbath fans, that isn’t the case here.  The video and audio were both expertly mixed.  Even as large as the venue was, the audio is crisp and clear.  The same can be said for the video mix.  It works with the set list and the band’s overall stage show to make Black Sabbath Live…Gathered in Their Masses a recording that is just as worth the money as going to see Black Sabbath live if not more so.  It is available now in stores and online.

More information on Black Sabbath and its tour schedule is available online at http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath and http://www.blacksabbath.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Downton Abbey Set An Excellent Gift For Fans New And Old

Courtesy:  itv/PBS

Courtesy: itv/PBS

2014 is set to be a big year for Downton Abbey.  PBS’ British import has been nominated for a Golden Globe in the annual awards show.  The series’ fourth season is also set to premiere on PBS in just a matter of days.  The current date for its Season Four premiere is January 5th, 2014.  And Season Four is also currently scheduled to be released on DVD and Blu-ray January 28th, 2014.  So it goes without saying that the show’s fans have a lot to look forward to this Winter.  Before Season Four makes its U.S. premiere, the show’s fans can get caught up thanks to the new three-season gift set on Blu-ray and DVD.  This new set is a great gift for the most devoted of the show’s fans.  Not only does it include the series’ first three seasons together in their own entirety, but it also includes the companion DVD, The Secrets of Highclere Castle.  This is the central point of what this latest set offers audiences.  Those that might perhaps be new to Downton Abbey will appreciate in watching this box set the writing.  Most people don’t like the thought of watching a show about rich people.  But once said audiences allow themselves to get past that outer layer, they will be pulled in by the purely human drama that makes up the series’ plot.  The cast’s attire and the overall setting also play into the overall enjoyment of this series.  That together with the solid writing and the box’s bonus material makes this latest box set a wonderful addition to the library of any Downton Abbey fan.

Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Season 1 2 & 3 is not the first of the Downton Abbey box sets released in 2013 by PBS and the BBC.  The show’s first two seasons have already been released in a special Blu-ray box set.  So what sets this latest box set apart from that set?  The first thing that audiences will notice is that the first three seasons are all included in this set.  Also included as an added bonus, is the companion documentary The Secrets of Highclere Castle.  This documentary had previously only been available as a stand-alone piece on DVD.  Now, it’s included in its proper place with this set for those that want the full show experience.  It’s not all that audiences get as a bonus, either.  There is also episode-specific commentary that adds even more to the overall experience.  It is all packaged in one relatively ergonomic set.  This is the case both with the DVD and Blu-ray box set.  And it’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg for this set, too.

The packaging and bonus features that comprise the Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Season 1 2 & 3 box set are important parts of the set’s overall presentation.  One would be remiss though, to ignore the show’s writing and its effect on the series thus far.  Most audiences don’t seem too interested in watching a TV show about a rich family.  The last time that such show had an audience as devoted as this one was the original Dallas, starring the late Larry Hagman.  What sets this rich family apart from the stereotypical aristocratic family is that its members actually don’t feel above everyone else.  The show’s writers actually give the family members a certain heart despite the cultural divide between themselves and the servants that live and work in Highclere Castle.  The family actually does everything to not get rid of the servants even in somewhat difficult financial situations.  While it may not make the family more relatable to average viewers, it does make them more human and in turn, more worthy of praise.  It makes audiences want to find out what happens next within the confines of the story, which goes back to the overall writing.  It makes the stories all the (pardon the term) richer for viewers.  And in turn, it exhibits just why the show is such a favorite among audiences and critics alike.  It shows why this is the center of what makes this new set so worth checking out especially for those that might be new to the world of Downton Abbey.

The writing behind Downton Abbey is some of the purest writing for scripted television shows today.  By comparison, it outshines so much of the programming that pollutes American airwaves today.  In direct relation to the writing, audiences that are new to this hit drama will be impressed by the backdrops and attire used throughout the show’s first three seasons.  It’s obvious that the show’s heads wanted to be as accurate as possible to the series.  They wanted to be respectful both to the show’s history and its fans.  This is something else that audiences will learn about in the set’s bonus material.  It’s nice to see that just as in Mr. Selfridge painstaking efforts were undertaken to make the series as real as possible.  That’s something else that is rarely seen in most American television offerings today.  It makes the series stand out even more.  Along with its equally solid writing and bonus features, it becomes one more part of what is one 2013’s top box sets for adults.  It is available in stores and online now, and can be ordered direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=29630176&cp=&sr=1&kw=downton+abbey&pg=2&origkw=Downton+Abbey&parentPage=search&searchId=29650486.  More information on Downton Abbey is available online at http://www.facebook.com/DowntonAbbey and http://itv.com/downtonabbey.  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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Craft In America Just As Important In The Holidays As Any Time Of The Year

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

The holidays are over and another new year is almost here.  But that doesn’t mean that the holidays can’t live on even into 2014.  The latest episode of PBS’ series Craft in America will allow anyone to keep the holidays going into the new year.  It does so first and foremost in that it uses the social sciences to prove once more why arts and crafts are more than just arts and crafts.  Audiences will also appreciate in this latest episode of Craft in America that it shows arts and crafts can include food as well as carvings, paintings, and other elements.  Lastly, audiences will find interesting that this episode actually starts out by examining specific arts and crafts of Christmas and ends up in Halloween.  This is in direct contrast to the DVD’s release date.  This was pretty smart in its own way.  It is the final touch on another enjoyable addition to one of PBS’ more underrated series.

The latest episode of PBS’ Craft in America is another enjoyable piece from what is one of the network’s most underrated series.  It is so enjoyable first and foremost in that it uses the social sciences to prove once more why arts and crafts are more than just arts and crafts even during the holiday season.  Over the course of its near hour-long run time, viewers are taken to the mountains of North Carolina to examine the centuries old tradition of carving figurines and the not so old but just as interesting tradition of gingerbread sculpting.  Yes, gingerbread sculpting.  And to close out the program, audiences are taken into one Hispanic family’s home to see how the family makes a piece out of clay that honors the family’s dearly departed.  Throughout the course of each segment viewers learn how each craft is not just a craft, but part of the much deeper and richer culture of each group featured.  Viewers will learn in the first segment that the tradition of sculpting wood figurines goes back to one group of Europeans, and that said group even had its own take on Santa Claus.  The tradition of sculpting gingerbread is much more recent.  But it is still incredible nonetheless that so many generations have taken to the tradition, and the many ways in which it can be used in the art world. The final segment in the program presents a part of the festivities surrounding the Hispanic Day of the Dead festivities that otherwise might not have been known about by most audiences.  The process of sculpting and designing the “tree” is an eye-opener.  Again, it is part of the culture of those that celebrate el dia de los muertos. The three segments by themselves teach interesting lessons about different cultures.  Collectively, they show that arts and crafts are more than just arts and crafts.  They are part of something much bigger and richer.

Audiences learn in the second segment how a more recent tradition involves the use of food for arts and crafts.  In the final segment, audiences are presented with a much more subtle cultural aspect in the celebration of the Day of the Dead. That more subtle aspect is the cooking of tamales.  It presents the real manner in which tamales are made.  Many audiences may not know it, but real tamales are cooked inside a dried corn husk.  And they are made with some spicy meat that is mixed into hand-made dough.  These inclusions in the program are important because they go to show that craft doesn’t always have to involve just stereotypical items.  Craft can include food, too.  It makes one interested to see if PBS would *ahem* craft an episode of the series dedicated to food as craft.

The different crafts and their associated cultures are the heart of this episode of Craft in America.  They aren’t all to be taken into consideration in examining what makes this episode work.  The program’s overall makeup should be taken into consideration, too.  As audiences will see, this episode starts out at Christmas and eventually works its way back to Halloween, or rather the Day of the Dead.  This is in direct contrast to the DVDs release next Tuesday, December 31st.  This is actually a good thing.  It’s good because it keeps Christmas in the front of viewers’ minds since it was the most recent.  By working backward, audiences get to take in the full holiday season even as the year ends.  Who wouldn’t want to enjoy the holidays once more even at the end of one year and the birth of another even if it is only on DVD?  It’s the final touch on what is another completely enjoyable episode of Craft in America.  The DVD can be ordered online direct from the PBS store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=29393146&cp=2809871.3854896&sr=1&origkw=Craft+in+America&parentPage=family.  More information on this and other programming from PBS is available online at http://www.facebook.com/pbs and http://www.pbs.org.  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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Concert For Ronnie Montrose Is As Good As Any Major Label’s Live Recordings

Courtesy:  RoMoCo

Courtesy: RoMoCo

2013 has seen quite the surplus of live concert recordings.  Bands the likes of Jane’s Addiction, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and so many others have been released to the masses.  Each of those live recordings has proven to be exceptional in its own way.  These recordings will be seen by countless audiences thanks to being released via some of the music industry’s biggest labels. It doesn’t mean that they’re the only live recordings to hit the market this year.  One independently recorded and released live concert event that deserves just as much coverage as those aforementioned recordings is the Concert for Ronnie Montrose.  Recorded April 27th, 2012 at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, California, this live concert event will impress anyone that is a fan of true, pure, guitar-driven rock and roll.  This applies to even those that might not be so familiar with the work of Ronnie Montrose.  There is much to like about this new live recording.  The most obvious of factors is the concert’s audio and video mix.  For a show that was independently recorded and released, it looks and sounds surprisingly good.  The show’s set list and guest lineup collectively make up another of the reasons to check out this concert.  And while it is something relatively subtle, those charged with finalizing the concert included names and titles for each artist on each song.  For those that might be unfamiliar with the artists, this inclusion will help to introduce the artists to said new audiences when they look up each name.  In turn, it could open audiences’ eyes and ears to a whole new world of music.  Together with the aforementioned factors, the Concert For Ronnie Montrose proves to be just as enjoyable as any live recording released by the industry’s major labels.

The Concert for Ronnie Montrose is an independently recorded and released live concert event.  The automatic thought that might be raised in some audiences’ minds upon reading this is that it probably doesn’t match up with the live recordings released by the record industry’s major labels.  That belief could not be any more wrong.  The reality of this concert recording is that it looks and sounds just as good as any of the countless other live recordings released on said labels already in 2013. The camera crews charged with capturing the concert expertly carried out their duties.  Home viewers get the best seat in the house.  They are taken right on stage with the musicians and even above the crowd to see the full extent of the audience in attendance.  Seeing how packed the house was on the night of April 27th, 2012 just goes to show that while Ronnie Montrose might never have been one of the biggest names in the industry, he was and still is one of the most respected individuals to pick up a guitar. It is truly a telling statement, and one that any Ronnie Montrose fan will appreciate when they watch this concert for themselves.

The Concert for Ronnie Montrose was captured just as expertly on video as any live recording released via the industry’s major labels.  It is crystal clear.  And the camera work itself is just as impressive.  Having examined the recording’s high-quality video, the next logical step is to examine its audio mix.  Having been recorded in the semi-intimate setting of San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom, it goes without saying that it was extremely important that the audio be perfect.  Those that are more familiar with the science of acoustics will appreciate the painstaking efforts taken to ensure that the concert’s sound was on par with any major live recording.     Not one of the guitarists overpowered the other at any point throughout the evening.  And none of the musicians overpowered their fellow guest vocalists, either.  That set alongside the equally top notch camera work and video editing serve as the foundation for a concert recording that proves in the long run to be just as good as any of the year’s major concert recordings.

The audio and video mixes in the Concert for Ronnie Montrose collectively make for a solid foundation for this recording.  Having examined both, the next logical step in examining the presentation is to look at the collective set list and the guest lineup.  The set list that comprises this tribute concert spans the late guitarist’s rich career before his passing.  From his days with the Edgar Winter Group to his work with the band that bore his name to his solo career, this concert is front loaded with more than its share of great music.  Even audiences that might perhaps be less familiar with Montrose’s work will likely recognize the Edgar Winter Group’s hit songs ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Free Ride’ and the cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Connection.’  What’s more, those that might be fans of Dream Theater will hear quite the similarity between the concert’s opener, ‘Overture’ and certain work by Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci on the first of Liquid Tension Experiment’s two records.  Petrucci wasn’t one of the artists on hand at the Concert for Ronnie Montrose.  However, some equally big names were in attendance. And their presence is sure to impress audiences just as much as the show’s set list.

The lineup of artists on hand to pay tribute to Ronnie Montrose is just as eye-opening as the show’s set list.  Classic rock fans will recognize former Journey band mates Steve Smith and Neal Schon and Tesla front man Jeff Keith.  Also on hand were two equally big names in the form of Montrose’s former band mate and friend Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen, Chickenfoot) and world renowned guitarist Joe Satriani (Chickenfoot).  Hagar and Montrose’s fellow former band mates were on hand for the concert, too.  Anyone that was a fan of the band in its heyday will appreciate seeing its members back together if only for a one off show.  If the set list that makes up the show isn’t enough for audiences, then this megastar lineup of artists is certain to convince audiences to check out this recording.

So much has already been noted as to what makes the Concert for Ronnie Montrose such a joy of a live recording, even having been recorded and released independently.  There is still one factor in the recording to examine.  It is a subtle, yet important factor to examine.  It is the inclusion of what is called “supers” (or superimposed images) highlighting the names and titles of each musician to take the stage throughout the concert.  Their inclusion is important for those that might happen to be new to each musician.  The names and titles are placed right in front of each musician.  This allows audiences to directly link a name with a face.  Audiences that are less familiar with said artists can in turn link the names and faces when looking up information on each one online or otherwise.  The latent effect of all of this is the potential introduction of a whole new world of music to new audiences.  For that alone, those charged with making sure the supers matched with each artist deserve their own round of applause.  And together with the camera crews, sound editors, and performers themselves, it all comes together to make the Concert for Ronnie Montrose a concert that any purist rock and roll fan will appreciate no less with each watch.  It is available now and can be ordered online at http://www.ronniemontrose.com/merchandise/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=65&products_id=238.  More information on this and all things Ronnie Montrose is available via the official Ronnie Montrose website, http://www.ronniemontrose.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock’s Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert Re-Issue An Amazing Way To Finish Off The Year

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

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

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

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

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

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