Eagle Rock Entertainment’s recently released live recording featuring veteran country act Alabama is a must for any lover of country music. This new recording is not the first time that Eagle Rock has tested the waters of the country music world. Eagle Rock is not commonly known for handling recordings from country music acts. That isn’t to say that Eagle Rock has never handled recordings from country act. It released two recordings from the superstar country trio Lady Antebellum over the past two years—Own The Night World Tour (2012) and Live: On This Winter’s Night (2013). So any time that Eagle Rock does test those waters is reason to take notice. Audiences will definitely take notice of this latest country outing from Eagle Rock and Alabama. There is a lot to like about the recording. The most obvious aspect of the recording that audiences will appreciate is the show’s set list. The band handles material from its most recent release as well as older material and a standard or two that everyone will know. In direct connection to the show’s set list, the recording’s audio and video mix are collectively just as impressive. That is of course the standard for Eagle Rock Entertainment’s live recordings. And while Alabama is the central point of focus in this recording, the veteran country band is not the only superstar name that appears in the concert recorded at the famed Ryman Auditorium. The band welcomes some of today’s biggest names in country to perform alongside its members. This trio of elements collectively makes Alabama & Friends at the Ryman one more success for Eagle Rock Entertainment and proof that Eagle Rock should take more chances within the country music world. As important as the noted factors are to the overall success of Alabama & Friends at the Ryman, their being noted is not to discount the importance of the bonus features included in the overall presentation or even the DVD’s packaging. Both factors play just as much of a role in the overall presentation, too. All things considered, Alabama & Friends at the Ryman proves once again why Eagle Rock Entertainment remains today the leader in live recordings.
Alabama & Friends at the Ryman is one of very few live recordings from a country act released by Eagle Rock Entertainment. It isn’t the first time that Eagle Rock has handled a live recording from a country act. But it’s also a rare release as Eagle Rock handles mostly live recordings from rock and pop acts. This recording though, proves that the people at Eagle Rock should consider handling more recordings from the world of country music. It proves this in a number of ways, the first way being the concert’s set list. The concert’s set list offers up both older and more recent material from the band’s catalogue, including a handful of songs from its most recent release simply titled Alabama & Friends. One of the best of the new songs off of said album is the political protest piece ‘All American.’ This song pulls no punches. It goes after members of both political parties. Vocalist Randy Owen sings about the divide among both politicians and Americans alike. He goes on to note that we’re really all one in the same, not Democrat or Republican. One need just step back and look at things from a wider vantage point. Taking into consideration the preconceived stereotype of country musicians and their political affiliations, this song is a welcome breath of fresh air from a country act. It not only helps to disprove that stereotype even if only to a point. It also harkens back to the days of Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and others of that ilk stylistically speaking. As noted, the band balances quite well the show’s set list including both more recent material alongside the band’s older works, too. Those that prefer the band’s older material will love that the band opens its show with its classic hit ‘IT You’re Gonna Play In Texas (You Gotta Have A Fiddle In The Band)’ and that it also included in its performance the likes of ‘High Cotton,’ and ‘Song of the South’ among other classics. The balance of the band’s classic songs with its more recent hits is the center point of the success and enjoyment of Alabama & Friends at the Ryman. By direct connection, the recording’s collective audio and video mix are just as impressive.
Eagle Rock Entertainment has maintained a standard of excellence with its live recordings when it comes to the overall audio and video mixes of said recordings. It is that standard of excellence that has helped Eagle Rock justifiably maintain the mantle of the leader in live recordings. Alabama & Friends at the Ryman is no different in maintaining that standard. Taking into account the seemingly small size of the Ryman Auditorium—the shots presented in this concert make the Ryman look rather cozy—those charged with handling the concert’s audio mix had quite the challenge. That is because if the auditorium really is as small as it appears in this presentation, it makes it much easier for sound to bounce off of walls, thus making the handling of audio levels challenging. If the Ryman is in fact as it appeared, it had to have made placement of cameras just as challenging as balancing audio levels. But the camera crew handled its duties with just as much expertise. The end product of the crew’s efforts is one more concert that will impress general audiences just as much as it did the heads at Eagle Rock Entertainment.
The set list that makes up Alabama & Friends at the Ryman works with the concert’s collective audio and video mix to once again show again why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the rightful leader in live recordings. The set itself balances the band’s classics with its more recent works. Those responsible for handling the show’s audio levels handled balancing the seemingly cozy surroundings just as expertly as the show’s camera crew. The end product of these elements together is a product that fully lives up to the standard set by Eagle Rock’s previous live recordings. On another angle, the inclusion of today’s major names in country music in the show enhances the overall experience even more. Alabama is joined in its concert by Jamey Johnson, The Eli Young Band, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and fellow veteran singer Trisha Yearwood. These performers each contributed their talents to the band’s 2013 album Alabama & Friends. They are just some of the names that came on board for that album, too. On the surface, it’s just a bunch of country’s biggest names performing together. On a wholly other level, it presents an interesting juxtaposition. Here is Alabama, one of the biggest names of country music’s “old guard” playing alongside country music’s next generation in the noted acts. It makes for such a statement without really saying much of anything if anything at all. That statement is a powerful statement, too. Rather than being a passing of the torch, it’s like the next generation paying homage to the roots of the business. It is certain to put a smile on any country music lover’s face. This subtle yet oh-so-strong statement is just as important as the concert’s audio and video mix, and its set list in the presentation’s set list. All three factors together make this concert a must have for any lover of country music.
The juxtaposition of country music’s past, present, and future in Alabama & Friends at the Ryman is a fitting final piece of the presentation’s whole worth noting that makes this recording so enjoyable. The balance of the band’s classic material with its more recent works plays its own part in the whole, too. The top notch work of the show’s audio and video crew makes everything complete. Without their efforts, the presentation would not be worth presenting to audiences. Altogether, these factors make Alabama & Friends at the Ryman a recording that every lover of country music should see. That is not to discount the recording’s bonus interviews and “Making of” feature or the overall packaging of the recording. If a DVD can be packaged in a case the same size as a Blu-ray disc, it makes one wonder why more companies aren’t doing this. There is a macro-scheme at work here that ultimately saves money and space for both consumers and for the company. But that would take far too long to go into. So that will be saved for another time. But again, it would be unfair to ignore this factor or the bonus features included in the recording. One could even examine the band’s on-stage presence when examining the overall recording. It should be clear by now just how much could be considered in examining this recording. Regardless of which factor(s) is/are examined, the end result will be the same: it will still prove that Alabama & Friends at the Ryman deserves a place on the rack of any lover of country music. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:
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.