eOne Announces Release Date, Info For Hell On Wheels Season Three

Courtesy:  eOne/AMC

Courtesy: eOne/AMC

Hell will rise again this summer.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, July 15th. Season Three follows the continuing saga of former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon as he works with the Union Pacific on its westward construction. Season Three picks up after the attack by a group of Native Americans on the railroad encampment that closed out Season Two. Also in Season Three, audiences see Cullen make his plans to take over the Union Pacific and get it across the country.

One of AMC’s top series, it has been credited for helping to modernize the once powerhouse Western genre on television. The upcoming complete third season’s release comes only weeks before the premiere of the series’ fourth season on Saturday, August 2nd.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season comes with its own compliment of bonus features along with every one of Season Three’s episodes. Those bonus features include: An inside look at Season Three, a recap of season two, a set tour with Common, Behind The Music featurettes, and an “Inside The Episode” featurette with each of Season Three’s ten episodes.

Season Four will retail for SRP of $39.98 on DVD and $49.98 on Blu-ray. More information on Hell on Wheels is available online at http://www.facebook.com/HellOnWheelsAMC, http://www.amc.com/shows/hell-on-wheels, and http://twitter.com/HellOnWheelsAMC. More information on this and other releases from eOne is available online via Twitter at http://twitter.com/eOneHomeVideo. 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.

Judas Priest Announces New Fall Tour Schedule

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

The members of Judas Priest made a big announcement over the weekend.

The members of the veteran hard rock band announced Friday that the band will hit the road this fall in support of its upcoming 17th overall album, Redeemer of Souls. The band will tour in support of Redeemer of Souls beginning Wednesday, October 1st in Rochester, New York. The tour will see the band crisscrossing the country throughout fall and winter, eventually winding down Tuesday, November 18th in Salt Lake City Utah. This is a major announcement from the band’s members as it had alleged that the band would not tour anymore after its previous tour and would instead focus primarily on new music.

Information regarding special fan pre-sales, merchandise bundles, and more are expected soon. Fans can keep up with all of the latest news regarding the noted ticket sales and more online now at http://tickets.judaspriest.com. The band’s most current tour schedule is listed below.


Oct-01 Rochester, NY Main Street Armory

Oct-03 Hammond, IN The Venue at Horseshoe Casino

Oct-04 Louisville, KY Louder Than Life Fest at Champions

Oct-09 Brooklyn, NY Barclays

Oct-10 Atlantic City, NJ Harrah’s

Oct-11 Mashantucket, CT MGM Grand Theater at Foxwood’s

Oct-14 Lowell, MA Tsongas Center at UMass

Oct-15 Allentown, PA PPL Center

Oct-17 East Rutherford, NJ Izod Center

Oct-19 Detroit, MI Fox Theatre

Oct-24 Baltimore, MD Pier Six Pavilion

Oct-28 Duluth, GA The Arena at Gwinnett Center

Oct-30 Hollywood, FL Hard Rock Live Arena

Nov-06 Allen, TX Allen Event Center

Nov-07 Austin FunFunFun Fest

Nov-10 Los Angeles, CA Nokia

Nov-12 Phoenix, AZ Jobing Arena

Nov-13 Highland, CA San Manuel Casino

Nov-14 Las Vegas, NV The Pearl

Nov-16 San Jose, CA City National Civic

Nov-18 Salt Lake City, UT Maverik Center

Fans can also keep up with all of the latest news from the band online via its official website and Facebook page at http://www.judaspriest.com and http://www.facebook.com/OfficialJudasPriest. 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.

NNS Celebrates America’s Independendence With Its Own Fireworks Friday Night



Joe Gibbs Racing has been the center of attention in recent weeks. The reason being that Roush Fenway driver Carl Edwards has been rumored to be heading over there next season. But after last weekend’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway, JGR is the center of attention for another reason. That reason being that JGR driver Elliot Sadler now leads the NASCAR Nationwide Series points thanks to a 10th place finish in the John R. Elliot Hero Campaign 300 presented by Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Chase Elliot, who came into last weekend’s race as the series’ points leader finished two positions behind Sadler in 12th, knocking him down to second overall in the points standings. This weekend, Elliot will look to bounce back and retake the points lead as the NASCAR Nationwide Series races under the lights at Daytona.

The Subway Firecracker 250 will be run at Daytona International Speedway Friday night live on ESPN2. It all begins with ESPN2’s weekly pre-race NASCAR Countdown broadcast at 7pm ET. The green flag is expected to fly at 7:49pm ET. Allen Bestwick will anchor Friday night’s broadcast. He will be joined by ESPN analysts Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth. Nicole Briscoe will anchor NASCAR Countdown. She will be joined by her regular co-hosts Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty.

More information on the ESPN family of networks’ coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series is available online at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar. 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.

Love Happy A Comedy That Will Make The Whole Family Happy

Courtesy:  Olive Films

Courtesy: Olive Films

Love Happy, the last of the Marx Brothers’ big screen starring vehicles, has largely been panned by audiences and critics alike ever since its debut almost sixty-five years ago.  The main reason for this is perhaps the story’s script, which was co-written by Frank Tashlin, Mac Benoff, Ben Hect, and Harpo Marx.  Being that Harpo was one of the individuals behind this movie’s script, it should come as no surprise that he [Harpo] was at the center of the story while brothers Groucho and Chico played little more than bit parts.  Now, having taken this into consideration, it becomes clear why the movie has remained one of the least favorite of critics and Marx Brothers fans alike.  But a closer examination of the movie reveals why it deserves more credit than it has gotten over the sixty decades plus since it premiered.  Harpo being placed in the lead role is actually a very important reason that audiences should give this movie a second look.  His brothers may play bit parts in this film.  But even in bit parts, they are still entertaining in their own right.  That is another reason that the movie is more entertaining than some would have audiences believe.  And last but not least, the movie’s musical numbers will entertain audiences—even the relatively unnecessary harp solo played in the park near the story’s end.  It can be forgiven considering it exhibits once more Harpo’s talent.  Anyone that takes all of these factors into consideration in watching the new re-issue of Love Happy from Olive Films will see that the film’s critics didn’t see the film for its true value.

The biggest complaint that critics and audiences alike have had about Love Happy over the years is that the movie takes away from The Marx Brothers’ legacy.  They have argued that it does so because it focuses more on Harpo than on the Marx Brothers as a unit.  Making for even more difficulty is that Harpo has always been considered more of a sidekick style character than leading man.  That’s because his brand of comedy was more physical than verbal.  It forced audiences to actually pay attention to his acting, rather than just hear anything.  The age of the silent film had ended years before this movie.  So, audiences had become quite acquainted and comfortable with movies with sound.  That being the case, it becomes increasingly clear why audiences even today are less accepting of this movie.  But if the same audiences were more willing to invest themselves in the movie more fully, they would see the true value in the story.  Said audiences would see the level of physical comedy on the part of Harpo and just how entertaining said comedy makes the movie in the long run.  It really was and is today an art form that has largely been lost.  So to that extent, it makes Love Happy even more of a jewel of a re-issue for any true classic movie fan.

Harpo Marx’s own brand of physical comedy and mime is a wonderful foundation on which the script behind Love Happy Rests.  It is however, not all that makes the movie truly worth watching.  Even in bit parts, Harpo’s brothers Groucho and Chico were entertaining in their own right.  Their screen time might not have been nearly as much as in past Marx Brothers movies.  But even in more diminished roles, both continued to show their prowess.  Groucho was still just as quick witted both as narrator and as the bit part detective Sam Grunion.  His interaction with a then-unknown Marilyn Monroe as an unnamed client is just as hilarious as his interactions with other female cast members in previous works such as Night at the Opera and Duck Soup.  On the other side of the coin, Chico had his own brand of comedy, too.  Both brothers showed an understanding and a respect for their roles in their own way.  Neither one tried to ham it up at all.  Both men did what they had always done, therefore letting Harpo’s own brand of comedy take the limelight.  That respect on the part of Chico and Groucho in relation to Harpo having the lead made for a fully entertaining story.  And audiences that are open-minded enough to see this will agree with that sentiment, too.

The balance in the acting between Harpo, Groucho, and Chico is key to the success of the script behind Love Happy.  That isn’t to say that the script doesn’t deserve some applause.  It is just outrageous enough to be believable as both a crime story and a laugh-a-minute comedy.  There is one more aspect of the movie’s script that makes the story in whole so enjoyable.  That final aspect is the collective musical numbers included in the story.  Musical numbers were still very prevalent in movies even at the start of the 1950s.  That is one thing that thankfully hadn’t yet changed in the film industry at that point in time.  One of the best of the movie’s musical numbers comes in the form of Harpo’s own harp solo late in the story.  He is with Maggie (Vera-Ellen) in the park discussing her future, when out of nowhere he pulls out his harp in an attempt to cheer her up.  Given it seems a bit out there that he just happened to have his harp right there at that moment.  But his talent is unrivaled. That isn’t to take away from the talent of Vera-Ellen as she sings her own number or what may or may not have been Chico on the piano late in the movie. In an age when the majority of movie makers fill their stories with mostly sex and violence, these musical numbers prove that such substance is just as entertaining today as it was decades ago. And together with the equally impressive acting on the part of the Marx Brothers and a fun story, the musical numbers help to make Love Happy a movie that is more than deserving of a second look whether for the first time in a long time or for the first time ever.

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.

Elton John’s Latest Live Release Is One In A “Million”

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Next Tuesday, July 1st, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Elton John’s latest live recording, The Million Dollar Piano.  Eagle Rock Entertainment has long been the standard of success in live recordings from a variety of bands and artists.  And with this latest live recording, it remains once more the very standard by which other companies should base their live releases.  There is so much to appreciate in The Million Dollar Piano.  For starters, there is the show’s set list.  The show’s set list totals eighteen songs and nearly two hours in length.  Throughout the course of the performance, Elton John’s very performance makes the experience even more of a joy.  And making the performance whole is the concert’s combined audio and video mix.  All of these factors taken into consideration, Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano proves to be one more example of why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leader in live recordings, and why Elton John remains one of the top entertainers in the music industry today.

Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano is such a joy of a concert first and foremost for the same reason that any other concert is enjoyable for audiences.  That reason is the near two-hour concert and its set list. Throughout the concert, John and his fellow musicians present to audiences eighteen fan favorite songs.   Among those fan favorites are the likes of: ‘Crocodile Rock,’ ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Rocket Man,’ ‘The Bitch Is Back,’ ‘Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) and even some perhaps lesser-known pieces, too.   If the songs included in the main concert’s set list aren’t enough for audiences, then the bonus live performance from Kiev is certain to make audiences happy.  That grouping of songs includes another take of ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ as well as performances of ‘Sacrifice,’ ‘Sad Songs (Say So Much,’ and the stirring tribute to the late Princess Diana, ‘Candle in The Wind.’  This bonus mini-concert of sorts puts the recording’s concert run time well over two hours.  And it is two-plus hours of pure enjoyment for audiences of all ages, too.

The set list compiled both for this recording’s primary concert and its bonus “mini-concert” recorded in Kiev together make Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano more than worth the money, whether one purchases it on DVD or Blu-ray.  However, the set list would be nothing without a solid performance from John and his fellow musicians and performers.  Thankfully a strong performance is exactly what audiences get.  He and his fellow band members deliver a solid performance from start to finish. Whether it be in the more upbeat songs or even the deeper, more emotional moments, John and company carry the concert with ease.  The performance is made even more enjoyable as John shares little tidbits and jokes with the audiences between songs.  He tells the audience in attendance about how his pianos are named and points out how the piano he is using in the show actually visually tells the audience what song he is playing as he plays.  His story about how his pianos are named will have audiences watching at home laughing just as much as those that were in attendance as he pokes fun at fellow pop star Madonna.  He also shares some more thought provoking moments as he explains how different songs such as ‘Blue Eyes,’ ‘Indian Summer,’ ‘Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters’ came to life.  That willingness to joke with the audience and even share more personal stories builds a strong connection to audiences.  In turn, it makes his performance (and that of his band mates) even more enjoyable.  The on-stage presence of John and his band mates alongside the show’s set list together make this recording one that any fan of Elton John will definitely want to add to their personal library.  It still isn’t all that audiences will appreciate from this recording.  There is one more factor to examine from this concert that makes it a joy.  That factor is the concert’s collective audio and video mix.

The set list and overall performance by Elton John and his band mates more than make Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano a joy for audiences of all ages.  Even together, they would be nothing without the expert work of those behind the concert’s cameras and audio boards. The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace is an immense structure inside. Audiences will get to see its sheer size in watching this concert recording. And in doing so, will agree that it is anything but small. Taking that into account, those responsible for getting the best shots and keeping the audio levels evened out more than did their jobs. One of the best camera angles used throughout the concert is one that captures John right from keyboard level. Either there was a camera mounted on the piano or a videographer sitting just close enough to get that close up shot. Regardless of which is the case, the slightly angled shot mixed with a specific frame rate makes for a great shot. This is especially the case in some of the concert’s slower numbers. The wide shots are just as powerful in songs such as ‘Rocket Man,’ and ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me.’ That’s thanks in part to the video wall used behind the band. The combination of the two together makes such moments so powerful, emotionally speaking. Bigger, more bombastic numbers such as ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘The Bitch Is Back’ are equally complimented by the camera work in those numbers, too. The camera work on those numbers heightens their energy and in turn, makes them as enjoyable as any other moment throughout the concert.

The videography concert is a hugely important part of the extrinsic value to this concert recording. Much to the same level, the audio work is just as worthy of applause. Considering the sheer immensity of the Colosseum, it goes without saying that balancing the acoustics both for those in attendance and for those that will purchase this recording was extremely important. It looks to be almost the same size as England’s Albert Hall, if not perhaps slightly bigger. Those managing the concert’s audio levels both during and post-show are to be applauded just as much as those responsible for capturing the concert on video for their part in the final product. At no point in the concert does one performer overpower the other. It shows the expertise of those handling the concert’s audio duties. And thanks to such expert work, audiences can catch every single nuance of every song. Those with home theater systems will especially appreciate those painstaking efforts on the part of those at the audio boards. Such efforts, along with those of the camera crew and the performers, to entertain audiences have far more than paid off here. All things considered, Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano shows once more why Eagle Rock Entertainment remains the leader in live recordings and why Elton John remains to this day one of the top entertainers in the music industry.

Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano will be available next Tuesday, July 1st. It will be available both on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on the concert and Elton John’s current tour schedule is available now online at http://www.facebook.com/EltonJohn and http://www.eltonjohn.com. Audiences can also order the concert via John’s official website. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt and http://www.ealge-rock.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.

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo “Jumps For Joy” Over New Album’s Release

Courtesy:  Underground Playground Records

Courtesy: Underground Playground Records

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s new album The Perfect Quirk hit stores and online outlets this week. In celebration of the album’s release, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo himself took to the skies and went sky diving! That’s right! And the full video from pre jump to landing can be viewed online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5sDUqLX6Pc. The whole thing is set against the song ‘Imaginary Friend,’ which is just one of many songs included on The Perfect Quirk.

A summer tour in support of The Perfect Quirk has already been set beginning with a performance in Hurst, TX on July 11th. He will also be in his home state of North Carolina for a pair of dates on July 23rd and July 27th respectively. On July 23rd, Skidoo will perform live in Black Mountain, North Carolina at the Black Mountain Music Festival. And on July 27th, he will play a home town show in Asheville, North Carolina at the city’s famed Orange Peel. The current schedule of dates for Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s summer tour is listed below.


Highlights – Summer 2014

July 11 – Masterworks Concert Series, Hurst, TX

July 13 – 18 – Summerstage Series, NYC

July 19 – Jammin’ Java, Vienna, VA

July 23 – Black Mountain Concert Series, Black Mountain, NC

July 27 – The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC

Aug. 2 – Rox in Sox Festival, Lake Oswego, OR

Aug. 3 – The Vera Project, Seattle, WA

Aug. 4 – Bonney Lake Kids’ Club, Bonney Lake, WA

Aug. 6 – Kent Summer Concert Series, Kent, WA

Aug. 7 – Everett Summer Concert Series, Everett, WA

More information and all the latest updates on Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s tour and more is available online at http://www.facebook.com/secretagent23skidoo and http://www.secretagent23skidoo.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.

Virgin Mobile Recruits Exmortus For New Ad Campaign

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records/Virgin Mobile

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records/Virgin Mobile

Prosthetic Records’ own Exmortus is starring in a new ad campaign for Virgin Mobile.

The new TV spot is a fully tongue-in-cheek piece that sees the L.A.-based four-piece applying its own brand of metal to espouse the benefits of Virgin Mobile. It was directed by Paul B. Cummings (Conan, The Colbert Report). It can be viewed online now at http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7yMf/virgin-mobile-galaxy-s5-metal-band. Drummer Mario Moreno shared his thoughts on the shoot, saying that “We had a great time shooting with Paul and it was an awesome experience, especially breaking all the gear at the end!”

Exmortus will be back on the road again this summer in support of its latest album Slave to the Sword.” It will tour alongside veteran metal band Flotsam and Jetsam on that band’s tour. The current tour itinerary is listed below.

7/9     West Hollywood, CA – Whisky A Go Go #
7/10   San Francisco, CA – Slim’s #
7/11   Sacramento, CA – The Boardwalk #
7/12   Portland, OR – Tonic Lounge #
7/13   Seattle, WA – Studio Seven #
7/15   Spokane, WA – Club 412 #
7/16   Boise, ID – The Shredder #
7/17   Salt Lake City, UT – LoFi Cafe #
7/18   Las Vegas, NV – LVCS #
7/19   Mesa, AZ – Club Red #
8/2     Los Angeles, CA – Black Castle (w/ Morbid Saint)
8/22   Santa Ana, CA – Malone’s (w/ Gypsyhawk)
# with Flotsam & Jetsam

More information on Exmortus, its upcoming tour, its new album and more is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/exmortusofficial. 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.

Lionsgate, FWF Celebrate Upcoming TMNT Reboot With New Animated Series Episode Compilation


Courtesy: Fred Wolf Films/Lionsgate

Excitement is building around the upcomingTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. Those heroes in a half-shell will return to the big screen for the first time since 1993’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III this summer.  It will be under the watch of Transformers director Michael Bay. In anticipation of the upcoming big screen live action reboot, Lionsgate and Fred Wolf Films have announced the upcoming release of a new compilation of episodes from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics will be released on DVD Tuesday, July 29th via Lionsgate and Fred Wolf Films. The DVD will contain ten fan favorite episodes from the series’ ten-season run as well as special bonus features. The complete episode listing for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics and bonus features are noted below.


  • Planet of the Turtleoids – Season 5
  • Night of the Rogues – Season 7
  • Cowabunga Shredhead – Season 3
  • Superhero for a Day – Season 4
  • Turtles at the Earth’s Core – Season 3
  • Curse of the Evil Eye – Season 2
  • The Turtles and the Hare – Season 4
  • The Big Blow Out – Season 3
  • My Brother, The Bad Guy – Season 5
  • Shredder & Splintered – Season 1


  • The Turtles: A Ninjatastic Look Back
  • Exclusive Artist Interviews
  • A Shellabration of Fan-Nomenon Sensation: Devoted and Die-Hard TMNT Fans Speak!


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Classics will retail for SRP of $14.98. Also back by popular demand is the collectible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection Party Van. The complete series collection comes in a replica box meant to look like the original Turtle Van. It contains all ten seasons of the original animated series on twenty-three discs. It will retail for SRP of $99.98.

More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at http://www.facebook.com/lionsgate, http://www.lionsgate.com, and http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies. All the latest from the world of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is available online at http://www.facebook.com/teenagemutantninjaturtles and http://www.nick.com/tmnt. 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.

The Dagger’s CM Debut Is Pure Rock At Its Finest

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

The self-titled debut record from The Dagger is a solid first effort for the Stockholm, Sweden-based four-piece. The Dagger isn’t the first band to ever take listeners back to rock’s golden era. But it still has done something special on its debut that other bands of its ilk (E.g. Horisont, The Sword, Gypsyhawk) have not done. What it has done on its first full effort for Century Media Records is crafted an album that exhibits one of the widest swaths of influences to date from any band of its kind. That’s one part of what makes this record one that purist metal heads will appreciate about this album. Also noteworthy about the album is its overall production values. That, too will be discussed shortly. And last but far from least are the lyrical themes that run through the album. All three factors together make The Dagger an album that any purist rocker and metal head will enjoy just as much with each listen.

The Dagger’s debut record is a good addition to the library of anyone that is a fan of The Sword, Horisont and Gypsyhawk. Much like those bands, The Dagger takes listeners back to the golden era of rock on its Century Media Records debut. As much as it carries a sound similar to those bands, it actually takes things a step further on its self-titled debut. Instead of focusing primarily on one specific classic rock sound, the members of The Dagger—Jani Kataja (vocals), Fred Estby (drums), David Blomqvist (guitar), and Tobias Cristiansson (bass)—exhibit influences from a rather wide swatch of veteran bands. Those bands include the likes of Judas Priest, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and even Deep Purple among others. Such a wide array of influences having been exhibited here, it makes the album one of those rare albums that is actually worth listening through without skipping a single song. That’s truly saying something, especially in an era when audiences seem to be increasingly downloading single tracks from the likes of iTunes instead of purchasing entire albums. Taking this into consideration, it shows that The Dagger’s debut record could very well be one that older audiences will appreciate just as much as younger audiences. To that extent, it shows great potential for this record.

The sound crafted by the members of The Dagger on the band’s self-titled debut is the most important factor in the overall enjoyment of this record. The band doesn’t stick to just one influence, even in taking listeners on a trip back in time to the golden age of rock. It exhibits all of its many classic rock influences. Just as important to the album’s success as its sound is the album’s production. The separation that was formed between The Dagger and other “modern classic rock” bands thanks to The Dagger’s extensive background of influences is made even wider thanks to the album’s production values. Painstaking efforts were made to not only bring out the band’s veteran influences, but to make the band’s album sound like it was itself a product of rock’s golden era. From Blomqvist’s powerhouse guitar playing to the almost hollow sound of the drums made popular in the 1960s and 70s to Kataja’s own vocals, and even Cristiansson’s bass work, each part was given special attention. When all four parts came together, those behind the glass exhibited expert talent, crafting an album that sounded like it came right from the era of so many great garage rock style bands. Credit is most definitely to be given in that area. It wonderfully compliments a sound from the band that is already impressive on its own.

The songs that make up The Dagger and the production values that make the album even richer are both integral parts of the album’s success and enjoyment. They are but part of the whole, though. There is still one more factor to consider in the album’s enjoyment. That factor is the variety of lyrical themes that run through the album. As [Fred] Estby noted in an interview with Terrorizer magazine, the influences behind the songs’ lyrical themes come from a number of sources. Those sources include the news, novels, and even lyrics from contemporaries such as Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler, and Blue Oyster Cult. That means that unlike so many rock bands out there, The Dagger tries its best to avoid the standard themes of relationships. Rather the themes on this album vary just as widely as the band’s musical influences. It’s a breath of fresh air, considering just how many bands even in today’s world of hard rock and heavy metal base their songs on that standard fare. That factor, alongside the album’s overall sound and production values make this record, once again, one that any purist rocker and metal head will enjoy just as much the fiftieth time around as the fifth.

The Dagger will be available in the U.S. Tuesday, July 22nd and June 30th in Europe.  It will be released both domestically and internationally via Century Media Records. The Dagger is currently scheduled to perform live September 18th and 19th in Stockholm Sweden as part of Close-Up Magazine’s Close-Up Baten Festival. Until then, audiences can keep up with the latest news and more from The Dagger through its official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/daggerofficial. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Blue Wild Angel Is A Fitting Memorial To Hendrix’s Legacy

Courtesy:  Experience Hendrix, LLC/Legacy Recordings

Courtesy: Experience Hendrix, LLC/Legacy Recordings

Sony Legacy and Experience Hendrix, LLC released their latest archived live Jimi Hendrix performance this week.  Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight: Blue Wild Angel was released on DVD and Blu-ray earlier this week.  The latest archived concert to be released by Sony Legacy and Experience Hendrix, LLC, this archived concert is one more wonderful addition to the ongoing series of archived concerts that the companies have released in recent years.  The first reason for that is the concert’s set list.  Included in this concert are some familiar pieces.  There are also some not so familiar pieces included in the show’s set list, too.  Those songs are a great addition to the concert in whole.  Just as worth noting in this new concert recording is the show’s collective audio and video mix. The recording’s bonus material—primarily the interview with director Murray Lerner and the bonus live footage of ‘Hey Joe’—completes the presentation, making Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight: Blue Wild Angel a definite candidate for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new live recordings.

Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight: Blue Wild Angel is one of the most important live recordings that any Jimi Hendrix fan and music historian alike should add to their own collection. The reason for that is that while it wasn’t his last concert, it was his final full official performance before his untimely passing in late 1970. One of the key reasons that viewers will enjoy this concert recording so much is that it includes more than the typical Hendrix hits. He pays homage to The Beatles with a performance of the title track from the band’s 1967 alum Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band early on. Before the concert begins, there is a near fifteen-minute documentary of sorts that sets the stage so to speak, for the concert. During the course of the documentary, Hendrix notes in some of the footage that he was in fact a fan of The Beatles. Taking this into account, that comment makes Hendrix’s performance of the Beatles’ hit all the more special. Audiences will agree that Hendrix does the song justice even with his rendition. Just as intriguing is the juxtaposition of Jimi, Mitch [Mitchell] (drums) and Billy [Cox] (bass) performing ‘God Save The Queen.’ It is intriguing in that also included in the pre-concert mini-documentary” is a clip of Jimi discussing his performance of the National Anthem at Woodstock and the reaction to said performance. He also discusses his military service with Cavett during said clip. It makes the group’s performance of ‘God Save The Queen’ almost a response of sorts to those that came out against him for his rendition of the National Anthem even after the fact. Add in performances of ‘Dolly Dagger,’ ‘Freedom,’ ‘Spanish Castle Music,’ and others that are less commonly seen in previous Hendrix live recordings alongside Hendrix’s standards, and audiences get a set list that by itself, makes plenty of reason to check out this new live recording.

The set list that Jimi and his band mates had assembled for what would be their last full official concert is in itself reason enough for audiences and music historians to want to purchase this recording. The collective audio and video mix of this recording makes it even more of a success. Almost forty-five years (that’s almost three quarters of a century) later, the footage looks and sounds just as good as it did in its original recording. That is a testament to those charged with bringing the concert back to life for audiences of all ages. The footage looks and sounds especially good in its transfer to Blu-ray. The grainy quality of the original recording is still there. So that vintage feel was not lost in the transfer. It just looks more well defined for lack of better wording. And the audio is just as impressive. It sounds impressive on an HDTV. But those with home theater systems will truly appreciate the quality of the audio in the original concert audio’s re-mastering and transfer to Blu-ray. Making the experience even more special is the inclusion of extra camera angles on specific songs as bonus material. It adds even more to the overall experience, especially being that they largely come from the stage.

Speaking of bonus material, the bonus performance of Jimi and company performing ‘Hey Joe’ puts the final piece in place for this recording. The performance had not been included in the original concert recording. So having it included this time gives audiences the full experience in terms of the show’s set list. The bonus interview with director Murray Lerner rounds out the presentation. His insight and behind-the-scenes tidbits regarding the pre-show preps and reaction by the fans shows a troubled show that seemingly came close to not happening. And even when it did happen, it wasn’t without its share of problems. But because it did happen, audiences today get what is a fitting final end to a career that would ultimately be cut far too short.

Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight: Blue Wild Angel is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online. It can be ordered directly from the official Jimi Hendrix website, http://www.jimihendrix.com/us/home. More information on this and other Hendrix releases, as well as the upcoming 2014 Experience Hendrix Tour and more Jimi Hendrix news, is available via the official Jimi Hendrix website and Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/JimiHendrix. 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.