‘Fighting With My Family’ Deserves At Least A Fighting Chance

Courtesy: WWE Studios/Universal Pictures

Underdog stories and movies based on actual events are among the most commonplace staples in the movie industry today.  The genres reach all the way back to Hollywood’s golden age.  Back in February, World Wrestling Entertainment and its movie division WWE Studios joined the ranks of studios that have churned out movies under one banner, the other, or both when it debuted its new movie about WWE Divas Champion Paige, Fighting With My Family. The movie made its way to home release only months later in May complete with bonus content and extended director’s cut.  The bonus content featured in the movie’s home release plays its own important part to the whole of Fighting With My Family and will be addressed a little later.  The movie’s central story is its most important element and will be addressed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast on screen also plays into its presentation and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way.  All things considered, Fighting With My Family proves to be a movie that has at least a fighting chance with WWE fans and wrestling fans in general.

WWE Studios/Universal Pictures’ recently released dramedy Fighting With My Family is a work that will appeal to a very targeted audience.  Keeping that in mind, it is a movie that has at least a fighting chance (yes, that pun was intended) with those viewers.  That is due in part to the story at the center of the movie.  The story is a work with an all too familiar underdog/coming-of-age base that is itself based on actual events.  It is nothing that audiences have never seen before, even within the sports realm, too.  It follows the story of WWE Divas Champion Paige as she rises through the ranks of the WWE from her humble beginnings in England.  Keeping that in mind, one could even call it another rags-to-riches piece.  Simply put, the story is nothing new in the bigger picture of the movie industry, and not overly memorable.  However, it is still an interesting piece worth at least an occasional watch both among wrestling/WWE fans and audiences in general.  Director Steven Merchant notes in his feature-length commentary that the Knight family was closely consulted for the movie, since it is based on a documentary about the family and real events.  He reveals the movie stays close to Paige’s real story, despite a few liberties being taken.  To that end, it will make the story that much more appealing for viewers.  It is just one of the aspects that makes the movie appealing to the noted viewers.  The work of the movie’s cast adds its own share of interest to the movie’s presentation.

While Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson does appear in the movie – and produced it – he is not the main star in the movie.  The cast that portrays Paige and her family are the main stars.  Nick Frost plays Paige’s dad Ricky, and is so entertaining in the role. Between his comedic moments and his more emotional moment (at the story’s finale) and even his more tough guy moments, Frost manages to keep viewers entertained with ease.  Frost’s co-star Lena Heady, who plays Paige’s mom Julia, plays so well against Frost as a foil.  The chemistry between the pair is obvious in their interactions.  It makes those interactions that much more enjoyable.  Lead star Florence Pugh is just as entertaining as her cast mates as she grows and develops as a character.  Her portrayal of Paige will keep viewers fully engaged as she goes from being that outside underdog figure at the story’s beginning to the confident, proud Divas Champion by the story’s end.  There’s no reason to hide that aspect of the story.  A story of this nature obviously ends with the underdog rising above all obstacles to win the biggest prize.  Between her acting, that of her main cast mates and even the supporting cast, the work on camera by the movie’s cast does just as much as the story itself to make the movie appealing for its key viewer base.  When the two elements are joined, they show even more why this movie doesn’t go down without a fight.  Yes, that awful pun was intended, too.  They are not the movie’s only key elements.  The bonus content that is featured with its home release is just as worth noting.

The bonus content featured with Fighting With My Family includes a feature-length audio commentary with Merchant, a “making of” featurette that features interviews with the cast, deleted scenes and a featurette on how Pugh learned the wrestling moves needed to take on the role of Paige.  The feature-length commentary is the anchor for the bonus content.  Merchant reveals through his commentary, a lot of information.  He points out that Paige’s first NXT match was actually inspired by Eminem’s movie 8 Mile, and adds later, Clint Eastwood’s 1979 movie Escape From Alcatraz played into another scene later in the movie.  That is just the tip of the iceberg.  He also reveals that Pugh’s co-star Vince Vaughan did quite a bit of improving throughout the movie in terms of lines.  The discussions on his improving will be saved for audiences to discover for themselves. Merchant also reveals through his discussions, that parts of Paige’s story were left out for the sake of time, such as the fact that Paige was accepted into WWE on her second try, not her first, and her road to the Divas Championship was far longer than time allowed, even in two-and-a-half hours (the run time of the movie’s director’s cut).  The NXT facility shown in the movie was not WWE’s real NXT facility, either, according to Merchant.  He reveals the facility was a set created in England, though many of the wrestling matches and WWE scenes were shot on set at WWE tapings.  This is just some of the information that is revealed through Merchant’s commentary.  There is far more for audiences to take in for themselves.  Between everything listed here and everything else, Merchant’s commentary proves it is the most important of this movie’s bonus features.

The cast discussions on their interactions with the real life Knight family and the focus on Pugh’s wrestling lessons are enlightening and entertaining in their own right.  They add a little bit more to Merchant’s discussions, but are overshadowed by the noted commentary.  That is not to say that they lack value, but that the commentary holds the most power in this movie’s presentation.

The deleted scenes are interesting in that it is clear why certain scenes were cut.  For instance, the extended cut of the chase between Zak and Ez definitely did not need to be in the movie for any impact.  To that end, the chase scene that is featured works well in itself.  The additional scene in which Paige’s friends confront her for changing when she comes home for the holidays is another scene that was cut.  It definitely was not needed either.  Paige’s weightlifting scene at the NXT facility did not add much to the movie, either, so it is understandable in watching that scene why it was cut, too.  These are just a few of the scenes that were cut from the final product.  When they are considered alongside the rest of the featured deleted scenes, the effect of having cut them makes for more appreciation for what is in the final product – even in the director’s cut.   Keeping all of this in mind along with the notes of the director’s commentary and the other featurettes, the bonus material featured with the home release of Fighting With My Family proves to be, in fact, important in its own right to the whole of the movie.  When it is considered along with the work of the cast on camera and the work of Merchant in fashioning the script, all three elements make the movie a piece that while it may not get its own title belt, at least doesn’t get pinned.  It is a movie that is worth at least an occasional watch that deserves a fighting chance.

WWE Studios/Universal Pictures’ recently released movie Fighting With My Family is an interesting presentation that will definitely appeal to wrestling fans in general and WWE fans alike.  It doesn’t take the championship in the already vast sea of movies from WWE Films, but it does at least deserve a fighting chance.  That is due in part to its multi-tiered story that is easily accessible due to its many all-too-familiar plot elements.  The work of the movie’s cast in front of the lens adds to its appeal, as noted already here.  The bonus content that is featured with the movie’s home release puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each item is important in its own right to the whole of Fighting With My Family.  All things considered, the movie doesn’t put the Smackdown on its counterparts in this year’s field of new movies, but at least never gets the three count.  More information on this and other titles from WWE Studios is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.wwe.com/inside/overtheropes/wwestudios

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More information on this and other titles from Universal Pictures is available online now at:

 

 

 

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‘The Great Baking Show: Seasons 1-5’ Streaming Now On PBS Living Prime Video Channel

Courtesy: PBS Distribution

PBS brought another of its series to its streaming service this week.

The first five seasons of the British import series The Great British Baking Show are streaming now on PBS Living Prime Video Channel through Amazon.  The series’ first five seasons of the popular cooking show were added to the channel Friday. Subscription to the service is $2.99/month.

Sue Perkins and Mel Diedroyc serve as hosts for the series over the course of its first five seasons while Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood serve as the show’s judges.  Each of the series’ first five seasons runs 10 episodes in length.

PBS Distribution Co-President Andrea Downing was upbeat as she talked about the addition of the series to PBS Living Prime Video Channel in a recent interview.

“We are delighted to be able to provide all five of the original seasons of the Great British Baking Show to our PBS Living audience,” Downing said.  “It is another great addition to our continuously growing library of popular and iconic lifestyle content on the channel.”

Apple users can stream all five seasons of The Great British Baking Show through Apple TV Channels.  They are also streaming through PBS’ own streaming service, Passport.

More information on this and other programs from PBS is available online now at:

 

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‘The Big Bad Fox And Other Tales’ Is A Big Great Family Presentation

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/GKids

Bringing the family together just to do something like watch television and movies is something that is almost unheard of today.  It seems more and more, that television and movies have increasingly segregated families within the bounds of their own homes.  This summer though, Shout! Factory and GKids will release a new presentation that will certainly bring families back together in the form of the French import The Big Bad Wolf and Other Tales.  This roughly 80-minute presentation is due out on July 16 on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  While it is French in its origin, the upcoming import is dubbed in English, so American audiences won’t have to worry about reading subtitles versus watching each of the three shorts that make up the body of the presentation.  That is just one of the collection’s notable elements and will be discussed a little later.  The most notable of the presentation’s elements is its three collective shorts.  They will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content featured with the collection puts the final touch to the presentation of The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales.  It will also be discussed in this analysis of the presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales.  All things considered, they make the Big Bad Fox and Other Tales a collection that will entertain audiences of all ages and certainly bring the whole family together once again.

Shout! Factory and GKids’ upcoming domestic release of The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales is one of the most surprisingly enjoyable DVDs/BDs to come along so far this year in the Family DVD/BD genre.  Originally having made its debut June 21, 2017 in its home nation, its release on July 16 through Shout! Factory and GKids marks the first time the collection of shorts has seen a domestic release.  Being the collection’s domestic debut, it is a strong debut that even the most skeptical American audiences will enjoy.  That is due in part to the collection’s featured stories.  The collection is presented as a three-part play of sorts put on in a theater by a group of animals.  The first story is that of three of those animals – a pig, fox and duck – filling in for a supposedly injured stork, delivering a little baby girl to her new parents.  The physical comedy that is incorporated into the story harkens back to the old slapstick of the Looney Tunes cartoons and other similar animated shorts franchises.  That comedy ticks along at a stable pace along with the story, with the pairing ensuring lots of entertainment along with engagement.

The second story finds a not so big bad fox trying to steal chickens from a farm, but ends up becoming a surrogate “mother” to a trio of young chicks after he steals the eggs from their mother hen.  In the process, the fox has to deal with a far less nice wolf (who is introduced through a playing of the wolf’s introduction from ‘Peter and the Wolf’) and eventually learns a very valuable lesson about accepting himself for who and what he is.  That revelation leads to a heartwarming finale that will not be given away here.  It can be said that the finale will certainly leave a smile on the face of even the most hardened viewer.

The final act of the “play” is a holiday story that finds the trio from the first story joining together to save Christmas after one of the group accidentally knocks down a plastic Santa.  Thinking he has killed what the Brits call “Father Christmas” (Santa here in the U.S.), the animal sets off with his friends to play Santa and deliver their own presents to the children of the world.  The story’s finale will leave viewers of every age smiling and laughing just as much as the other stories featured in this collection.

Even after the collection ends, there is still something interesting to note.  Audiences who sit through the credits will find that a very well-known movie studio *coughs* Disney played a part in this collection, albeit a minor role.  There is also a rather delectable recipe for crepes featured at the finale of the credits.  The whole thing ends with a frog janitor putting on his own brief dance number for one last laugh before he walks off stage and turns off the theater’s lights.

The stories that make up the body of The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales offer more than enough entertainment for the whole family from the beginning of the roughly 80-minute presentation to its end.  While the content itself forms a solid foundation for the program’s presentation, it is just one part of what makes the collection so enjoyable.  As previously noted, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales is French in origin.  Its forthcoming domestic release however, is dubbed in English thanks to a group of British voice actors.  This seems minor on the surface, but the reality of the situation is that it is key in its own way to the program’s enjoyment.  Being dubbed in English means that American audiences can enjoy the program in whole instead of having to divide their attention between the action on screen and nonstop English subtitles.  That full engagement means a full enjoyment by audiences of all ages, and in turn full appreciation for the collection.  On another note, a close watch of the collection reveals something interesting of the dub work done for the program’s domestic release.  The voice work actually lines up quite surprisingly well with the animals’ mouths.  There are so many foreign imports that come to the U.S. every year whose overdubs simply do not work because the actors’ mouths do not line up with what the English actors are saying.  It takes away from viewers’ ability to suspend their disbelief.  In the case of this presentation though, the dubs and on-screen motions line up quite well, which adds even more to the enjoyment, because it eliminates that focus from viewers’ minds, instead allowing viewers to focus that much more fully on the action onscreen.  It is one more way in which the dubbing proves crucial to the overall enjoyment of The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales.  When this is considered along with the stories already discussed here, the two elements together go a long way toward making the program in whole that much more enjoyable for audiences.  They are not the only key elements to discuss in analyzing this forthcoming animated import.  The bonus content featured with the program rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus content featured with The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales is just as engaging as the program’s primary content.  Audiences learn through the director interviews that director Benjamin Renner based the program’s title story on his own personal life.  He explains in his story, he felt like an outcast growing up, that he wasn’t what he was expected to be by so many, and that translated into The Big Bad Fox.  His discussion on this topic is quite moving and enlightening.  Renner additionally notes that the program’s first story, involving the trio bringing the baby to her new parents was also inspired from his own life.  He expands even more in the live Q&A session featured as another bonus, he went to animation because he wanted to tell stories, but could not write.  That in itself is an intriguing revelation.  This critic’s own view is that it is a good thing that Renner pointed his focus to animation, as the storytelling through this collection’s shorts are endearing and entertaining.

The director interviews and brief Q&A sessions are just two of the bonuses featured with The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales.  Also featured as an extra is a not so standard “making of” featurette that finds a trio of French youths interviewing Renner, his co-director Patrick Imbert and the rest of the program’s creative heads.  The children’s questions and actions put on full display, the innocence of children, and will make children and adults alike smile and laugh.  As one of the heads talks professionally about how things work in one discussion, the kids start losing attention very quickly.  Parents will laugh at this just as much as kids because of their ability to relate to the situation.  The discussions on why digital animation was used in place of hand drawn animation are enlightening for older audiences, and are just as sure to generate discussion among said viewers.  This viewer is still more a fan of hand drawn animation versus CG, though the work put into this program’s look did admittedly pay off, as it does stand apart from so many other CG animated features.  To that end, there is that to the presentation’s credit, too.  There is so much more that one could discuss other than what is noted here, but that would take entirely too much time.  When everything else featured in the “making of” featurette is considered with everything already noted here and everything noted (and not) in the director interviews, the end result is an experience that is just as entertaining and engaging as the program’s primary content.  When that content is coupled with all of this secondary content, the whole of everything makes The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales a big great family feature.

Studio Canal’s upcoming import of The Big Bad Fox and  Other Tales – which is scheduled for release July 16 through Shout! Factory and GKids – is a surprisingly entertaining overseas offering that American families across the board will and can enjoy together.  That is due in part to the entertaining and heartwarming stories that make up the body of the program.  The stories’ comedic elements harken back to the comedic stylings of Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes shorts while the stories themselves will touch viewers of all ages.  The fact that the stories are told with English dubs that line up surprisingly well with the mouth motions of the characters adds even more to the program’s enjoyment.  The bonus content featured with the program puts the final touch to the whole of the presentation with its extra information.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales.  All things considered, they make this presentation a big great presentation for the whole family.  It is scheduled for release July 16 on BD/DVD combo pack through Shout! Factory and GKids.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from GKids is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://gkids.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/GKIDSfilms

 

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‘Africa Speaks’ Speaks Volumes About Carlos Santana’s Place In The Music Industry

Courtesy: Concord Records

Ten days.  That is how long it took veteran musician Carlos Santana and his fellow musicians to record their latest recording Africa Speaks.  The album — produced by Rick Rubin — was released June 7 through Concord Records, less than three months after Santana and company released the group’s three-song EP In Search of Mona Lisa.  In the mere weeks that have passed since the record’s release, it has already caused a division among listeners, with fans either loving or hating the recording.  Those who love the record, do so for the same reasons that its detractors have decried the album — the change in the group’s sound this time out.  The traditional Latin percussion sound to which listeners have become so familiar is replaced in large part by more African style drums (which is part of that African theme) and the arrangements are more complex than with past Santana compositions.  Santana himself even takes even more of a backseat than ever to his fellow musicians and guest vocalist Concha Buika, who provides vocals for the majority of the album’s 12 total songs.  The combination of Buika’s vocal talents with the talents of Santana and his fellow musicians goes a long way toward making the album in whole a strong, interesting new offering from the group.  The record’s lead single, ‘Breaking Down The Door.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Los Invisibles,’ does just as much as ‘Breaking Down The Door’ to show the impact of Buika’s talents with those of Santana and company for this record.  It will be addressed a little later.  ‘Blue Skies’ is yet another example of how the combined talents of Concha Buika, Santana and his fellow musicians come together to create an engaging and entertaining recording in Africa Speaks.  When it is considered alongside ‘Breaking Down the Door,’ ‘Los Invisibles’ and the rest of the record’s entries, the album in whole becomes a work that listeners will agree speaks volumes about Carlos Santana and company in the best way possible.

Carlos Santana’s latest full-length studio recording Africa Speaks is a solid new offering from the veteran guitarist and his fellow musicians.  It is a record that speaks volumes about Santana’s place in the grand picture of the music community today.  That is proven in part through the record’s lead single ‘Breaking Down The Door.’  ‘Breaking Down The Door (ft. Buika)’ is a positive first impression from Carlos Santana’s forthcoming album Africa Speaks.  It is everything that audiences have come to expect from the veteran performer and his fellow musicians with its Latin-tinged sound.  The horns, bongos, congas, cabasa, drums and guitar and accordion are expertly balanced throughout the song thanks to the work of famed producer Rick Rubin (Johnny Cash, Run DMC, The Dixie Chicks), who helmed the album.  The song’s early bars create visions of nights in Havana which does somewhat go against the album’s theme of following African influences, but even with that in mind, still sets the song’s stage quite well.  The rest of the composition is certain to keep listeners engaged and entertained as the noted instruments join together for a work in whole that is quite easy on the ears.  It is just one of the song’s notable elements.

The song’s lyrical content is just as worth noting in examining the song as its musical content.  It is sung by famed Grammy®-nominated and Latin Grammy® Spanish artist Concha Buika (pronounced BWEE-KA), who comes in as a guest performer on this track.  Some of the lyrics are slightly difficult to decipher sans lyrics sheet, but enough is understood to realize the story in the song centers on a group of individuals’ relationships.  Buika starts out singing about a woman named Tina.  “Tina was no deceiver/Few were inclined to believe her/She was lucky to marry a rich, rich man/Handsome like Harry/Harry was a charmer/No one believed he would harm her.”  She continues in the song’s second verse, “The wedding was the talk of the town/The girl went down in a long white gown/They said she wanted to marry above her/All she wante was someone to love her/News came first/They called her a liar/Had no sound/Mouth full of wire.”

The story seemingly does not have a happy ending, as Buika sings, “In the end, Tina was buried/By the church where she got married/Tina should have outlived us/Now we pray that she will forgive us/Tina was no deceiver/Few were inclined to believe her.”  It would seem that in hindsight, this is a story about a young woman whose desire to be loved led to her being involved with someone who was not so nice.  It is inferred through the line stating Harry was a charmer and that no one thought he would hurt her, that likely he did in fact hurt her.  He apparently hurt Tina fatally.  One could almost argue that with this in mind, this song is a reminder for people to make sure they know who that other person is before getting completely involved with that person.  It’s hardly the first time that a song, such as this one has ever been presented.  Aerosmith, Garth Brooks and Nickelback are among the many acts who have crafted songs centered on the matter of domestic abuse.  The way in which it has seemingly been tackled here though, is a fresh new take on the topic, and just as certain to resonate with listeners.  That is thanks not just to the story, but the song’s arrangement, too.  Keeping all of this in mind, this song is a positive addition to Africa Speaks and just one of the record’s most notable entries.  ‘Los Invisibles,’ which immediately follows ‘Breaking Down The Door,’ is another example of the impact of Buika’s talents combined with those of Santana and company, and the overall impact of the album.

‘Los Invisibles’ stands out in part because of its musical arrangement.  Unlike ‘Breaking Down The Door,’ this song’s arrangement boasts much more of that African influence in its percussion elements.  At the same time, the use of the guitars and bass adds a bit of a funk vibe to the arrangement.  One could even argue there is a bit of a jazz influence in the song’s arrangement to boot.  That is a lot of different musical genres and styles, but Santana and company being the consummate professionals that they are, the group made those elements join together to make a whole that is undeniably one of the record’s best musical moments.  It is just one part of what makes the song in whole stand out.  The song’s lyrical content couples with its musical arrangement to make the song in whole stand out even more.

According to the English translation provided with the song posted to Santana’s official YouTube channel, the song focuses, lyrically, on a young man talking to his lady love about their forbidden love.  The translation shows the man sings to the woman, “Mari, Mari, Mari, don’t cry/When your mother found out about us/Said that she could not consent our love/Because I don’t have much money.”  The lyrics become rather redundant from here until the song’s finale in which the man sings to the woman, “Good night, miss/We are free like the wind.”  That finale line seems to be a statement of happiness, as if the man does not care what the woman’s mother thinks.  He sings “we are free like the wind,” as if to say “We can do what we want.”  This seeming statement would seem to add more clarity to the feeling in the song’s arrangement.  There is a certain sense of confidence in the arrangement, and considering the subject’s statements, it works well.  While it is another song that seems centered on relationships, it is the exact opposite of the story at the center of ‘Breaking Down The Door.’  In other words, it gives listeners something different to take in both lyrically and musically.  It is just one more of the songs featured in Africa Speaks that shows the record’s strength.  ‘Blue Skies’ is yet another example of the strength of Africa Speaks.

‘Blue Skies’ stands out in part because of its own arrangement, which is a stark contrast to the album’s other songs and even the pair already discussed here.  This song’s arrangement is more of a pure blues piece that also mixes in a touch of jazz.  The addition of Buika’s vocals adds that African element to the song, making the whole yet another of the record’s most notable entries if only for its musical side.  Its musical side is just one part of what makes it stand out, of course.  Its lyrical side adds even more interest to its whole.

The song’s lyrical content presents a message of clarity of mind and positivity.  That is made clear right from the song’s outset as Buika sings, “Don’t call me ‘lost’/That’s not my name/I got my feet on the ground and I see many colors and others/I burn all my loneliness under the ocean/Wash away fears and I/Burn all my loneliness under the ocean.”  She goes on in the song’s second verse, “I’m sending all my love to the blue skies/When light is raining over me/And then I remember the smile of my mama/When she thinks in the eyes of my grandma/When I feel that I’m lost/Don’t’ know where I belong/When a rose make my tears fall down/Nothing better than a blue skies/To cry over my memories.”  She adds, “Oh now there’s a magical shine in the moonlight/that reminds me those mystical moments/I remember that night when we’ve crossed far/that red line.”  She goes on in similar fashion through the rest of the song.  The end result is a song that is loaded with hope and positive vibes.  Those vibes are enhanced through the group’s musical arrangement, which exhibits so much emotion in its own right.  When the whole of the song is considered alongside the whole of the other songs discussed here, the trio proves solidly what makes this record a work that will in fact speak to listeners in the best way possible.  That is even more the case when they are considered alongside the rest of the album’s entries.  All things considered, the album becomes a work that is unquestionably one more of this year’s top new albums overall.

Carlos Santana’s latest full-length studio recording Africa Speaks is a record that speaks loud and clear about Santana’s place (and that of his fellow musicians) in the music industry today.  That is because it is yet another change of pace for the band that mixes elements of the group’s past works while also adding in a new element previously unused in the band’s past works.  The album’s lead single ‘Breaking Down The Door’ uses the band’s more familiar sound to create its own identity while ‘Los Invisibles’ adds more of the noted African element previously unused in Santana’s past records.  At the same time, it tells its own interesting story through its lyrical content.  ‘Blue Skies’ continues to present the positive vibes for which the band has been known throughout its life.  That is both in the song’s musical arrangement and its lyrical content.  Keeping this in considering along with the positives of the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s entries, the end result is a record that is just as strong as anything that Santana and company have ever released previously.  It is a record that says loud and clear, Carlos Santana and company are still among the music industry’s elite acts.  Africa Speaks is available now.  More information on Africa Speaks is available online now along with all of the latest news and more from Carlos Santana at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.santana.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/SantanaCarlos

 

 

 

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‘Bridges To Bremen’ Will Certainly “Connect With” Every Rolling Stones Fan

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The Rolling Stones have been in the news quite a bit lately thanks to band front man Mick Jagger’s recent health scare.  Jagger didn’t take long to recover from that scare, though, allowing the band to head back out on the road for its No Filter Tour.  While the band’s tour spans the globe, there obviously are those areas and fans who will not get the chance to catch the band in its latest outing.  For those audiences (and even for those who will get to see the band), Eagle Rock Entertainment has pulled another of the band’s archived shows from the vaults and released it for the masses in the form of Bridges to Bremen.  Released just last week, this latest addition to Eagle Rock Entertainment’s ongoing series of live Rolling Stones shows.  The concert presented in the recording was originally captured Aug. 26, 1998 in Berlin, Germany.  The concert was part of the band’s yearlong Bridges To Babylon Tour, which was in support of the band’s then new album Bridges To Babylon.  This latest addition to The Rolling Stones’ live recordings collection from Eagle Rock Entertainment is just as enjoyable for all as each of the previous recordings that Eagle Rock Entertainment has released.  That is due in part to the recording’s set list, which will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance of said set list plays just as much a part in the concert’s enjoyment as the set list itself and will be discussed a little later.  The companion booklet featured with the recording rounds out the recording’s most important elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Bridges to Bremen.  All things considered, they make Bridges to Bremen a recording that will connect with The Rolling Stones’ fans everywhere.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s latest addition to its ongoing series of live Rolling Stones recordings is a presentation that will connect with fans of the veteran performers around the globe.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.  The recording’s appeal is due in part to its set list.  The 22-song set list (26 counting the four bonus songs from the band’s tour-opening shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field) gives presents a relatively wide cross section of the band’s catalog up to that point.  The set list reaches all the way back to the band’s 1966 album Aftermath and as far forward as Bridges To Babylon, with that album getting the most nods, at five songs.  Audiences also get plenty of familiar hits, such as ‘Paint It Black,’ ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and ‘Honky Tonk Women’ and some lesser performed songs, such as ‘Memory Motel,’ ‘Out Of Control’ and ‘Out Of Control’ just to name a few songs.  Those lesser performed, deep cuts are addressed in the recording’s liner notes, which will be addressed later.  The set list is presented in the same chronological order on the recording’s two CDs as on its SD Blu-ray, so audiences get the same full show on both platforms.  What’s more, the set list’s sequence shows the band members’ attention to the impact of each song’s energy, as the energies of each song are balanced expertly from beginning to end.  The band knew where to keep the energy high, where to pull it back and where to push it right back up again throughout.  Simply put, the set list featured in this recording offers audiences plenty to appreciate in itself.  The foundation that it forms is strong, and is strengthened even more by the band’s performance thereof.

The band’s performance of the concert’s set list includes not just that of the band’s main four members – Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts – but the performance of the group’s fellow performers, too.  When singer Lisa Fischer hits the high notes in ‘Gimme Shelter,’ her control of her instrument displays clearly, her talents just as clearly as her performances in past Rolling Stones live recordings.  The band’s late great saxophonist Bobby Keys is just as impressive both as a supporting musician and as he gets the spotlight in ‘Miss You.’  Mick, meanwhile, handles his role as front man with the same impressive swagger as always during the group’s performance of ‘Out Of Control.’  His connection with the audience as the song ends and the audience continues singing reminds audiences why he is among the upper echelons of the industry’s top performers.  The audience keeps singing, and he so nonchalantly encourages the crowd’s enthusiasm, in turn increasing the audience’s energy.  The very fact that he so casually looks at the stage’s video screen to find which songs the fans want to hear just before the band performs ‘Memory Motel’ adds even more to that positive image.  As Keith Richards brings up Ronnie Woods’ daughter at the end of ‘Thief in The Night,’ even he shows his own charm, adding even more to the show’s interest and enjoyment.  It’s another display of the band members’ humility in that willingness to put the spotlight on the rest of the group instead of themselves.  It’s just one more way – and hardly the last – in which the band’s performance makes this recording so enjoyable.  The rest of the recording offers just as many examples of why the group’s performance is so important to the whole of Bridges to Bremen.  While it clearly adds even more to the recording’s presentation, it still is not the last of the recording’s most important elements.  The companion booklet that is featured with the recording rounds out the recording’s most important elements.

The companion booklet that comes with Bridges to Bremen is important to note because, as with the booklets included with the band’s previous live recordings, it paints a vivid picture of the concert featured within the recording.  This time, that picture is painted by writer-broadcaster Paul Sexton, who has contributed to Billboard, Music Week and broadcasts on BBC Radio 2.  Sexton’s ruminations are an important addition to the recording because of the revelations that he makes.  He reveals in his notes, that Jagger admitted to him at one point, he was concerned about the ability of the pneumatic bridge to connect from the main stage to the secondary stage even though it allowed the band to get out with the crowd without making the band get into the crowd.  Of course it worked perfectly on the night in question in this concert.  Sexton also notes in his writings, the connection of the band in whole throughout the course of the show, the ability of the band’s fans to play a role in the concert’s set list (Mick even references the fans’ choices on stage early on in the show), the fact that the concert shown here was originally broadcast across Europe at the time and the placement of the concert in the bigger picture of the tour’s schedule.  He notes the concert was one of the band’s last in the yearlong tour.  This is important to note because as deep as the band was into its run by that point, none of the band’s members showed any wear and tear.  Every performer was at the top of his and her game.  Between these notations and plenty of others featured in the recording’s companion booklet, Sexton’s notes add their own share of engagement and entertainment to the overall presentation of Bridges To Bremen.  When all of that is considered with the band’s performance and the recording’s overall set list (bonus content included), the whole of this recording becomes yet another welcome addition to the home library of any Rolling Stones fan.

The Rolling Stones’ latest live recording Bridges To Bremen is another offering from the veteran rock band that the band’s fans around the globe will find another welcome addition to their collections of the band’s records.  That is due, as noted here, in part to the recording’s set list, which presents a relatively wide cross section of the band’s catalog at the time, reaching back in time to the band’s early days and up to its then most recent record.  The band’s performance of the set list (including the performance of the touring musicians) ensures even more, audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  The liner notes featured in the recording’s companion booklet adds even more to that engagement and entertainment.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of BTB.  All things considered, they make the recording a presentation that is sure to connect with Rolling Stones fans everywhere.  Bridges to Bremen is available now.  More information on the recording is available online now along with all of The Rolling Stones’ latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.rollingstones.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/therollingstones

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RollingStones

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

 

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.

World Music Network’s New Blues Compilation Will Leave Listeners Anything But Blue

Courtesy: World Music Network

The blues is one of the most pure American forms of music that exists today, if not the single purest genre.  Originally rooted in the Deep South during the age of slavery, the blues has evolved into its own unique art form, even incorporating elements of country music to form one of its subgenres – country blues.  World Music Network has culled more than two dozen classic country blues songs for its latest compilation record The Rough Guide To Country Blues.  Due out June 28, the 25-song collection is a strong new offering from WMN and an equally strong introduction to this blues subgenre for those who are not so familiar with the styling.  The songs that make up the body of the record are themselves the main reason for that success.  They will be discussed shortly.  The collection’s track listing adds more interest to the compilation’s presentation and will be discussed a little later.  Its liner notes put the final touch to its presentation, rounding out its most important elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Rough Guide To Country Blues.  All things considered, they make The Rough Guide To Country Blues a positive addition to any blues fan’s library just as much as to any music educator’s library.

World Music Network’s new blues compilation The Rough Guide To Country Blues is a positive addition to the library of any blues fan’s music library.  It is just as welcome in the library of any music educator.  That is due in part to the compilation’s overall makeup.  The collection is composed of 25 songs recorded by some of the most rell-known and respected figures in the history of the blues (E.g. Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon Jefferson, etc.).  Each of the songs shows in its own unique way, the connection between the world of the blues and country music.  Case in point is the twang of the guitar in Big Bill Boozy’s ‘How You Want It Done?’  That twang and the upbeat rockabilly style arrangement and its dual chord foundation is so similar to works from Elvis, Johnny Cash and so many other country music stars.  Tommy Johnson’s yodeling in ‘Cool Drink of Water Blues’ and his general arrangement is similar in its own right to the songs that so many country music songs exhibited around the same time as him.  It is very reminiscent of the type of songs that one might expect in old cowboy western flicks and TV shows even.  Again, here audiences hear for themselves the similarity between the blues and country music.  Much the same can be said of Clarence Greene’s ‘Johnson City Blues.’  That twang is there, but there is still a certain blues element added to the mix to round out the song.  It’s just one more way in which the songs featured in this recording serve to show their importance.  They show how two genres that one might not think have any connection are in fact more closely related than many might in fact think.  That in itself creates a starting point for discussions on that connection between the genres.  The discussions will deepen even more when looking at the artists themselves and the time periods in which their songs were released.

The artists, songs and time periods of the songs’ releases are all listed on the packaging for The Rough Guide To Country Music.  What is interesting to note is that all of the songs featured in this compilation were crafted between the late 1920s and mid 1930s.  The earliest of the recordings were crafted in 1927, just before the stock market crash.  This is important in that it can lead to discussions on stylistic differences in the various songs pre- and post-crash.  That is not to say that the market crash caused any changes in style, but one never knows.  Regardless, it makes for its own in-depth discussion.  Another discussion that can be generated through the information provided in the recording’s packaging is the differences and similarities between the featured musicians’ styles.  Those discussions, coupled with the history lesson that is just as easily generated, show without question the importance of the information featured in the recording’s packaging.  With this in mind, the information provided in the recording’s packaging and the songs themselves go a long way toward making this compilation even more appealing for listeners.  The noted items are not the last of the recording’s notable elements either.  The information presented in the compilation’s liner notes puts the finishing touch to its presentation.

The liner notes add their own appeal to this recording in that they present so much additional background to the songs that can be added into the discussions generated through the recording’s songs and primary information.  Listeners learn in reading the recording’s liner notes, about the roots of the blues, the elements that made up country blues (gospel, Dixieland, Appalachian, etc.)  the backgrounds of some of the featured musicians and even the reality that country blues was a musical form at the time that crossed racial barriers.  Between these notes and others shared in the collection’s liner notes, the information provided in the booklet joins with the information presented about the songs, their performers and years, and the songs themselves to make the record in whole a work that will appeal to blues fans across the board.

World Music Network’s forthcoming blues compilation The Rough Guide To Country Blues is another welcome addition to its ongoing The Rough Guide To…” series of compilations.  That is because it takes listeners back in time through its featured songs.  The information provided about the time period in which the songs were released adds to the recording’s appeal in that said information is certain to start discussions among academics and the uninitiated alike.  The information provided about the featured recordings and artists in the recording’s liner notes is just as certain to create its own share of discussion among listeners, increasing the recording’s appeal even more.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of The Rough Guide To Country Blues.  All things considered, they make the compilation a work that blues fans of all ages will enjoy.  More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.worldmusic.net

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitter: http://twitter.com/WMN_UK

 

 

 

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.

TNT, Kia Partner To Broadcast 2019 NBA Awards

Courtesy: Turner Network Television/Turner Sports

Turner Network Television will broadcast the 2019 NBA Awards Monday night.

The broadcast, sponsored by Kia, is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.  It will broadcast live from Barker Hangar in Los Angeles, CA.  The event honors the top performers from the past NBA season with awards, such as the Kia NBA MVP, Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year and Kia Rookie of the Year.

NBA great Shaquille O’Neal will host the broadcast.  Larry Bird and Magic Johnson will become co-recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts will receive the Sager Strong Award.  The Sager Strong Award is presented annually to one person considered to be a trailblazer in his or her industry while also exhibiting courage, faith, compassion and grace.

The full list of candidates and awards for this year’s broadcast is noted below.

Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Finalists

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Paul George
James Harden

Additional Award Finalists and Categories

Kia NBA Rookie of the Year: Deandre Ayton (PHX), Luka Doncic (DAL), & Trae Young (ATL)
Kia NBA Sixth Man Award: Montrezl Harrell (LAC), Domantas Sabonis (IND), & Lou Williams (LAC)
Kia Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL), Paul George (OKC), & Rudy Gobert (UTA)
Kia Most Improved Player: De’Aaron Fox (SAC),  D’Angelo Russell (BKN), & Pascal Siakam (TOR)
NBA Coach of the Year: Mike Budenholzer (MIL), Mike Malone (DEN) & Doc Rivers (LAC)
NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente

Monday night’s broadcast will be preceded by a broadcast of NBA AwardsRed Carpet will stream across multiple platforms live at 8 p.m. ET.  Among the platforms where audiences can watch the proceedings are NBA On TNT’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.  It will also stream live via Bleacher Report’s Facebook and Twitter sites.

Comedian Tony Rock will co-host the broadcast with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks and Turner Sports’ Allie LaForce.  Ro Parrish will serve as the DJ for the event.”Kicks Awards” will also be handed out during the event for the celebrities with the most creative footwear.

More information on TNT’s broadcast of the annual NBA Awards is available online now at:

 

Website: http://tntdrama.com/nba-on-tnt

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NBAONTNT

Twitter: http://twitter.com/NBAonTNT

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.