‘The Flintstones’ Specials & Movies Set Is Enjoyable But Imperfect

Courtesy: Warner Brothers/Warner Home Video/WWE/Hanna-barbera

Hanna-Barbera’s animated series The Flintstones is a timeless franchise.  The show ran for a total of six seasons over the course of more than five years.  It also produced a handful of movies and TV specials, some of which proved more memorable than others of course.  The series has remained in syndication to at least some extent or another since its inception, and is readily available on separate standalone and full series sets, while its movies have been less available.  Early last month, Hanna-Barbera and Warner Home Video addressed that concern with a new collection of The Flintstones animated features.  Titled simply 2 Movies & 5 Specials, (which is problematic in itself), the collection is a mostly positive presentation, though is imperfect.  To the positive, the majority of the animated features are among the most well-known of the property’s most well-known and beloved.  There’s even one lesser-known but still enjoyable presentation featured as part of the collection.  For all that the inclusion of those features does for the set’s presentation, the inclusion of one other detracts notably in its own way, as does the complete lack of effort in titling the collection.  Keeping all of this in mind, the one other positive to this set is its average price point.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the set.  All things considered, they make the set a presentation that even with its negatives is still a collection that devotees of The Flintstones will welcome in their home video libraries.

The Flintstones 2 Movies & 5 Specials is a presentation that the most devoted fans of Hanna-Barbera’s beloved TV family will welcome into their home video libraries.  That is due in part to its featured specials and movies, the majority of which are well-known and beloved.  The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones is included in the collection, as are the equally well-known I Yabba-Dabba Do in which Pebbles and Bam-Bam finally get married, bringing together the Flintstones and the Rubbles at long last.  Even the 1993 special Hollyrock-A-Bye Baby is featured as part of the collection’s body.  It is in this prime-time special that Pebbles and Bam Bam become parents themselves, continuing their families’ collective lineage.  As if that is not enough, the lesser-known 1978 special Little Big League — which pits Fred and Barney against one another as opposing little league baseball coaches – and The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone – a Halloween-themed episode that finds Fred having to save Wilma from the clutches of Drac…er…Rockula —  are also part of the set.  This collection marks the first time ever that the noted classic specials have ever been released in one single box set.  The 2012 DVD collections from Hanna-Barbera were not official releases.  The specials were placed onto DVD-R discs in on-demand sets.  What’s more, those on-demand DVD-R sets were released separately, meaning audiences had to spend more money to own them in any fashion.  This plays into the set’s other major positive, its average price point, which will be discussed later.  Having all of these classics together in one official set for the first time is very much a selling point for the set.  Of course there is one other “movie” included in the collection that greatly detracts from that presentation.  That “movie” is the WWE-themed presentation Stone Age Smackdown.

Stone Age Smackdown was created through a partnership between Hanna-Barbera, Warner Home Video and WWE.  The “movie” is clearly little more than a cash grab for all involved.  It finds Fred trying to get his family’s vacation money back (after losing it himself) by creating a stone age wrestling mega event.  WWE superstars, such as John Cena, The Undertaker, and Mark Henry all provided their vocal talents to the direct-to-DVD and Blu-ray “movie.”  Its inclusion in place of another more well-known and beloved classic Flintstones special — A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994) – is bewildering.  Sure, A Flintstones Christmas Carol is just one more take on author Charles Dickens’ timeless novel, but there is still a certain heart to the holiday special because it takes a unique approach to the story.  It makes Fred a real Scrooge and Wilma the real star when everyone starring in Bedrock’s annual presentation of A Christmas Carol falls ill with “The Bedrock Bug.”  This use of a community putting on A Christmas Carol and making its lead into its own Scrooge is something that few if any adaptations of A Christmas Carol have done.   Stone Age Smackdown by comparison is clearly aimed at a very specific audience group.  Along with that, that it is aimed at a very specific audience base, it completely breaks up the sense of nostalgia and warm family messages featured in the other stories.  It really should have been omitted in favor of the noted holiday special (and maybe even its companion bonus holiday episode of The Flintstones).  Luckily, even with all of this noted, audiences do have the option to not watch that awful WWE-themed “movie” and the holiday specials are available on their own readily available standalone official DVD.  So the collection is not a total failure to that end.  It is not the set’s only con.  The fact that the set’s title is so lacking in any selling value detracts from its presentation, too.

The title of the new Flintstones specials and movies set is very simple:  2 Movies & 5 Specials.  The very use of the numbers hurts the title.  If it had stuck just with Movies & Specials, it would have worked, but that use of the numbers just does not work.  That is because the lines of what is defined a “special” and a “movie” are so blurred nowadays.  Case in point for comparison are the Peanuts primetime TV specials.  The only pure movie that has been produced from that property is The Peanuts specials.  The “Happiness Is…” DVDs and Blu-rays are just specials.  All of the classic holiday presentations are specials, not movies.  Taking that into account, the collection’s title does not ruin its presentation, but it cannot be ignored.  Together with the inclusion of that noted WWE-themed “movie,” this collection suffers plenty, but is not completely unwatchable.  They are just more examples of how the people at Warner Home Video continue to this day to come up short in their home releases.  The company has failed with its Hats Off To Doctor Seuss collection, its unnecessary recent re-issue of the Batman Beyond complete series set, some of its Tiny Toon Adventures DVD sets, the Scooby-Doo! and Scrappy-Doo: The Complete Season 1 set, and even its 2014 released Flintstones Kids collection.  Keeping that in mind, even with its failings, this set is not a complete failure.  It does have at least one other positive in the form of its average price range.

The average price range for The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials is $14.87.  That price is obtained by averaging prices listed at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million.  Amazon and Walmart offer the least expensive listing at $9.96.  Target and Best Buy each list the set at $14.99, just above the noted average price point.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million have the set listed respectively at $19.31 and $19.98.  They are the retailers for audiences to avoid while the others still give audiences plenty of options.  Those four relatively affordable price options couple with the overall positive content to show why that financial aspect is so important to this set’s presentation.  Even with the one confusing addition to the set in the form of Stone Age Smackdown, that price is still a point that audiences will find appealing in its own right.  Hopefully one day, this collection will get its own re-issue with the Flintstones Christmas Carol in place of that awful WWE “movie.”  Until then though, this set is still a positive presentation for any true devotee of The Flintstones.

The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials is a positive but imperfect presentation from Warner Home Video, Hanna-Barbera and WWE.  It succeeds in large part because of the inclusion of so many classic Flintstones movies and TV specials.  They reach all the way back to 1966 and all the way up to 1993.  For all of the good that those specials do for the set’s presentation, its one modern “movie,” 2015’s Stone Age Smackdown detracts considerably.  Thankfully it does not make the set a failure, since audiences do not have to watch that forgettable presentation.  The set’s title detracts from its presentation, too, but not so much that it makes the set unwatchable, either.  Considering that there is more positive content featured in this collection than bad, the average price point of less than $15 proves itself a positive investment for families.  That item, considered with the overall content, makes The Flintstones: 2 Movies & 5 Specials a welcome addition to the home DVD library of any devotee of The Flintstones.  More information on the DVD is available along with all of the latest Flintstones news at http://www.facebook.com/TheFlintstones.

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Arrow Video’s ‘Flash Gordon’ Re-Issue Is The Movie’s Best Presentation Yet

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group

Arrow Video’s recently released Blu-ray re-issue of Universal’s classic sci-fi flick Flash Gordon is the new gold standard for the movie’s home release.  Released Aug. 18 on Blu-ray and 4KUHD, this latest re-issue of the 1980 comic strip adaptation is the movie’s first domestic re-issue since 2012, when it was re-issued alongside The Last Starfighter, Dune, and the pilot for the original Battlestar Galactica series in a four-disc DVD set.  The movie’s audio and video form the foundation for its latest re-issue, and will be discussed shortly.  The extensive bonus content that accompanies the movie’s home release builds so much on the foundation formed by the movie’s production values.  It will be discussed a little later.  Flash Gordon’s story rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the movie’s latest re-issue a presentation that is without question one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.

Arrow Video’s new Flash Gordon re-issue is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  From sci-fi fans to fans of comics to action movie aficionados to classic cinema connoisseurs, this movie’s appeal will find plenty of appreciative audiences.  That is proven in part through the production values presented in this re-issue.  The colors in the sets and the costumes are so rich, especially the reds (red was allegedly the favorite color of the movie’s famed Producer Dino De Laurentiis according to information provided in the movie’s bonus content) of Ming’s palace.  In comparison to footage from the movie in its original presentation (which is shown in the noted bonus content), it is clear that painstaking efforts were taken in order bring forth the true, rich color.  If De Laurentiis were alive today, he would be just as impressed by this aspect.  In the same vein, every laser blast and every note of rock band Queen’s feature-length soundtrack is expertly balanced, enhancing the viewing experience for audiences even more.  Even a minor touch, such as the ambient sounds of Planet Mongol and its moons get their own attention.  From that production aspect to the noted deep, rich colors and the balance in the music and sound effects, it is clear that painstaking efforts were made in order to offer viewers the best possible presentation once again.  It’s another way in which Arrow Video continues to prove itself one of the leading names in the home media world.  Those efforts also go a long way toward making this presentation so enjoyable for viewers.  It is just one of the most notable aspects of the movie’s new home re-issue, too.  Its bonus content adds even more enjoyment to its presentation.

The bonus content that is featured in Flash Gordon’s latest re-issue is extensive to say the absolute least.  Audiences get two separate feature length audio commentaries, — one from director Mike Hodges and the other from star Brian Blessed (who played Prince Vultan) – a series of interviews with the movie’s cast and crew, two episodes of the Flash Gordon cartoon series, and a vintage “making of” featurette as well as photo galleries from the movie’s creation.  The bonus content alone makes for literally hours of entertainment and engagement.  The vintage making of featurette reveals that creation of the set for Ming’s palace alone took four months.  That and the other sets were so extensive that production had to take place primarily in a six-million cubic foot aircraft hangar.  It was just one of the facilities that was used for the movie’s production.  As director Mike Hodges reveals (off the cuff) during his audio commentary, Elstree Studio was also used.  That is the same studio in which Star Wars was created by George Lucas.  This is especially important to note because it is also revealed in one of the bonus discussions, that George Lucas apparently wanted to make Flash Gordon before Star Wars, but could not afford the rights, so he ended up making Star Wars.  How is that for a little six-degrees of separation?

As if everything already noted here is not enough reason to check out the bonus content, viewers will learn that there apparently was quite a bit of tension behind the scenes during the movie’s creation.  Hodges points out during his commentary that De Laurentiis viewed the movie’s creation in a very serious fashion, even though Allin was extremely displeased with the final product.  The vintage making of featureette does point out that De Laurentiis was himself very much a Flash Gordon “fan boy” prior to producing the movie.  To that point, his “seriousness” was perhaps chalked up to that fandom, even though he might not have thought he was going to such extreme.  There is nothing wrong with his approach, either, since he wanted to pay proper tribute to the original, timeless Flash Gordon comic strip.

Allin, on the other hand, said during the new bonus featurette “Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon,” that he and Roeg wanted to make a serious film in Flash Gordon complete with sociopolitical commentary, but that De Laurentiis wanted to stay true to the original Flash Gordon comic strip, which ran daily from 1934 to ’92.  Its Sunday edition continued until 2003.  The movie does just that with its special effects and its overall look (what with its costumes and sets).  The short and simple here is that Allin and Roeg’s story would have been a good fit among today’s comics based movies (since dark, brooding stories are about all that audiences get nowadays in comics-based movies).  De Laurentiis’ version has remained a cult favorite for four decades meanwhile maybe because of his dedication to its source material.  Regardless of which side viewers take, all of the noted discussions are sure to engage audiences thoroughly and generate plenty of discussion among audiences.  All things considered here (along with the bonus content not directly noted – again the bonus content here in fully immersive) the bonus content featured with Arrow Video’s recent Flash Gordon re-issue more than makes the movie worth owning.  When it is considered with the outstanding production values presented in this re-issue, the two elements together make for so much enjoyment for audiences.  They are still not all of the positives provided in the movie.  The movie’s central story adds even more to that enjoyment.

The story at the center of Flash Gordon is relatively easy to understand.  It starts with Flash and Dale Arden taking a flight somewhere (it’s never pointed out where the pair is going interestingly enough) and ending up crashing in the lab of the mad scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov.  Zarov basically kidnaps the duo and the trio ends up flying into space where they end up rocketing to another galaxy that is ruled by the evil emperor Ming The Merciless.  Along the way Flash unites the peoples of the worlds ruled by Ming, befriending them in the process.  The story has a happy ending, but also leaves the door open for a sequel (which going back to the bonus content, could have happened, but never did).  It has to be assumed in the movie’s story that as the clock reaches zero near the movie’s end, Ming does stop his attack on Earth before his alleged death, though that is never made 100 percent certain.  The only way audiences can assume the Earth is safe comes in the final scene in which Dale tells Flash that she is a New York girl and would rather go home than stay on the planet Mongol.  Next to that note, the only other odd note from the story is centered on all of star Sam J. Jones’ constant costume changes.  It just so happens that everything he wears is Flash Gordon-themed.  It is never fully explained where he gets all of his attire, but oh well.  That aside, the story’s simple approach is very much in line with the original Flash Gordon comic strip.  Yes, comics often do have deep philosophical language, but they are also meant to entertain the masses, and that is what this story does.  It entertains while also presenting at least some philosophy.  To that end, the story succeeds just as much as the movie’s bonus content and its production values.  When all three elements are considered together, they make the movie in whole the best presentation yet of this cult classic flick.

Arrow Video’s recent Blu-ray re-issue of Flash Gordon is an applause-worthy presentation that will appeal to a wide ranger of viewers.  That is proven in part through the movie’s production, which fully brings out the deep, rich colors in the sets and costumes.  The same can be said of the movie’s sound, which is so well-balanced in terms of the soundtrack and special effects noises.  The bonus content featured with the movie’s new re-issue will immerse audiences even more in the movie.  From everything noted here to other items, such as the realization that Queen was not the first choice for the movie’s soundtrack, and the note that the movie never got the merchandising push that other movies have gotten over the years, the bonus content adds so much of its own appeal to the movie.  The movie’s simple story does its own part to appeal to audiences with its simple presentation.  All three items noted here are important in their own way to the whole of the movie’s latest re-issue.  All things considered, they make this presentation, the best yet for the movie.

More information on Arrow Video’s Flash Gordon re-issue is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.arrowfilms.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ArrowVideo

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVideo

 

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

ESPN’s Weekly ‘CGD’ Broadcast To Air Live Saturday From Miami

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN College GameDay Built by The Home Depot will broadcast live Saturday from the campus of the University of Miami.

The network’s flagship college football program is scheduled to air from 9 a.m. to noon ET live from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.  It will simulcast on ESPNU.

Rece Davis will anchor the broadcast.  Desmond Howard, David Pollack, and Chris “The Bear” Fallica will provide additional commentary.  Kirk Herbstreit and lee Corso will join the broadcast from their homes due to COVID-19 regulations.

The No. 12-ranked Hurricanes will host their Atlantic Coast Conference foes, the Florida State Seminoles on ABC’s weekly Saturday Night Football presented by Capital One broadcast.  Chris Fowler will have the call for the game while Herbstreit will provide additional commentary.  Reporter Molly McGrath will have all of the game’s key headlines.

Miami comes into Saturday night’s matchup on the heels of a 13-point win (47-34) over Louisville on Sept. 19 and a 17-point win (31-14) over the University of Alabama at Birmingham Sept. 10 in its season opener.

The Hurricanes outperformed the Blazers in almost every category in the teams’ Sept. 10 meeting, from first downs to average gain per play, to total yardage.  On the other hand, the Blazers recorded 205 passing yards in the game versus Miami’s total of 155 passing yards.

Louisville gave Miami a harder fight than UAB, performing almost as well as the Hurricanes from the first quarter to the last.  The Cardinals outdid the Hurricanes in Net  Rushing Yards, 209-160, but Miami’s Net Passing Yards total of 325 just barely beat Louisville’s total of 307.

In the battle of the QBs, Louisville went 16-36 in completions, outdoing Miami there, too, 18-30.  The Hurricanes also saw more impact in the penalties category than Louisville, racking up 11 penalties for a total of 89 yards.  Louisville, on the other hand, had seven penalties for a total of 70 yards.

Miami’s Third-Down efficiency rate of 6-13 outdid Louisville’s 4-14.  At the same time, Louisville was 3-4 in Fourth-Down efficiency.  Louisville also outdid Miami in total yardage, 516-485.

Florida State comes into Saturday night’s game hoping to rebound from a Week 1 loss to Georgia Tech.  The Seminoles lost the game 16-13.

Florida State struck early in the game, putting up 10 points in the first quarter, but the Yellow Jackets kept the Seminoles scoreless in the second and to only a field goal in the third quarter.  Georgia State meanwhile put up 16 points between the third and fourth quarters.

Georgia State outplayed Florida State through most of the team’s Sept. 12 game.  The Yellowjackets racked up a total of 438 yards versus Florida State’s 307 yards.  Georgia State totaled more passing yards than Florida State (277-198) and more rushing yards (161-109).  Even the two interceptions thrown by GT quarterback Jeff Simms weren’t enough to stop the Yellowjackets.

On the positive side for Florida State, Georgia State incurred more penalties and lost more yardage than Florida State throughout the game.  The Seminoles were charged with eight penalties for 55 yards while the Yellowjackets had a total of 10 penalties for a loss of 80 yards.

 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRIMETIME ON ESPN

Saturday night’s ACC matchup between the Hurricanes and Seminoles is just one of the games scheduled to air Saturday night.  Southeastern Conference foes No. 2 Alabama and unranked Missouri open the night at 7 p.m. ET on College Football Primetime on ESPN.  The game is ESPN’s College Football Primetime Samsung QLED 4K Game of the Week.

Sean McDonough will have the call for Saturday night’s SEC showdown.  Todd Blackledge, Todd McShay, and Allison Williams will provide additional commentary and reports.

With this week being the SEC’s official return to play, each team comes into Saturday’s game looking to start the season with a win.

 

SATURDAY SCHEDULE

While Saturday night’s college football schedule will be busy, the two games on tap for the evening are not the only games scheduled to air on the ESPN networks.  Saturday’s schedule kicks off at noon ET on ABC — following ESPN’s weekly College GameDay Built by The Home Depot broadcast (9 a.m. to noon ET) — with East Carolina University hosting No. 13 UCF in an AAC matchup.

The previously scheduled game between No. 7 Notre Dame and Wake Forest, which was scheduled to air at noon on ABC, was postponed Tuesday due to concerns about COVID-19.

The full schedule for Saturday’s games is noted below.

Date Time (ET) Matchup/Commentators Network
Thu, Sep 24 7:30 p.m. UAB at South Alabama
Matt Barrie, Mike Golic, Jr., Lauren Sisler
ESPN
Sat, Sep 26 Noon No. 7 Notre Dame at Wake Forest
Dave Pasch, Mike Golic, Sr., Paul Carcaterra
ABC
No. 5 Florida at Ole Miss
TV: Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, Marty Smith
Radio: Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones
ESPN/ESPN Radio
Georgia Southern at No. 19 Louisiana
Beth Mowins, Kirk Morrison, Dawn Davenport
ESPN2
Georgia State at Charlotte
Mike Couzens, Jay Walker
ESPNU
No. 23 Kentucky at No. 8 Auburn
Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
SECN
No. 24 Louisville at No. 21 Pittsburgh
Wes Durham, Roddy Jones, Kelsey Riggs
ACCN
Georgia Tech at Syracuse ESPN3
No. 13 UCF at East Carolina
Lincoln Rose, Keith Moreland
ESPN+
Campbell at Appalachian State ESPN+
1 p.m. Florida International at Liberty ESPN3
3:30 p.m. West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma State
Bob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, Kris Budden
ABC
No. 22 Army at No. 14 Cincinnati
Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek, Quint Kessenich
ESPN
Tulsa at Arkansas State
Anish Shroff, Tom Luginbill, Lericia Harris
ESPN2
UTEP at Louisiana-Monroe
Clay Matvick, Rocky Boiman
ESPNU
4 p.m. No. 4 Georgia at Arkansas
Dave Neal, DJ Shockley, Tera Talmadge
SEC Network
Duke at Virginia
Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich, Eric Wood
ACC Network
6 p.m. Texas State at Boston College ESPN3
7 p.m. No. 2 Alabama at Missouri
Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Todd McShay, Allison Williams
ESPN
Houston Baptist at Louisiana Tech ESPN3
North Texas at Houston
Tyler Denning, Stan Routt
ESPN+
Stephen F. Austin at SMU
David Saltzman, LaDarrin McLane
ESPN+
7:30 p.m. Florida State at No. 12 Miami
Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Molly McGrath
ABC
No. 16 Tennessee at South Carolina
Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb, Alyssa Lang
SEC Network
Vanderbilt at No. 10 Texas A&M
Mike Morgan, Andre Ware, Taylor Davis
SEC Network Alternate
Kansas at Baylor
Roy Philpott, Kelly Stouffer
ESPNU
8 p.m. NC State at No. 20 Virginia Tech
Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Katie George
ACC Network
10:15 p.m. Troy at No. 18 BYU
Dave Flemming, Rod Gilmore, Stormy Buonantony
ESPN

More information on the ESPN networks’ college football coverage is available online along with all of the latest college football news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.espn.com/college-football

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/espncfb

 

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

The Rolling Stones’ Latest Live Recording Is As Solid As Steel

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The true greatest rock band in the world returned this week with another new archived live recording.  The band in question is The Rolling Stones and the recording in question is one of its three December 1989 concerts in Atlantic City, NJ in support of its then new album Steel Wheels.  The performance was part of the band’s “Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle” tour, which was the band’s first American tour since 1981.  The recording is another presentation that will appeal to The Rolling Stones’ fans just as much as rock fans in general just as much as the multitude of previous live recordings.  That count is almost at 20 counting (not counting this recording) if not right at said figure.  The main reason that audiences will appreciate the recording so much is its extensive set list. The list, which runs approximately two-and-a-half hours in length, will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance thereof adds to the enjoyment in its own way.  This will be addressed a little later.  The recording’s production values round put the finishing touch to its presentation.  When it is considered along with the set list and the band’s performance, the elements collectively make the recording another welcome way to beat the live music blues this and any year.

The Rolling Stones’ latest live recording is another fully immersive, enjoyable presentation for the band’s most devoted fans and rock fans in general.  In an age when live music has been relegated to watching concerts online, this offering from the greatest rock band in the world is its own welcome offering and alternative to being glued to a computer or phone screen.  That is proven in part through the recording’s extensive set list.  The 28-song set list spans a run time of approximately two-and-a-half hours.  It takes audiences all the way back to 1965 and the band’s fourth album Out Of Our Heads and all the way up to its then most recent album, 1989’s Steel Wheels.  Given, not every album in-between is represented in the set list, but in comparison to the set lists featured in the band’s past live recordings, audiences do get some songs not featured in those presentations.  The band’s five nods to Steel Wheels are themselves works that have rarely if ever been featured in the noted previous live presentations.  The band’s cover of Bob & Earl’s ‘Harlem Shuffle’ and its performance of its own single ‘Undercover of the Night’ (from 1983) are in themselves live rarities.  So audiences have all of that to enjoy.  Along with the noted songs, audiences also get more familiar songs, such as ‘Honky Tonk Women,’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ and ‘Tumblin’ Dice’ among others.  As if all of that is not enough, the band also pulls ‘2,000 Light Years From Home,’ ‘Happy,’ and ‘Salt of the Earth’ as some semi-rare works from its catalog.  Also making this set list so enjoyable are guest appearances from blues legend John Lee Hooker, who joins the band for a performance of his own hit song ‘Boogie Chillen’ and a guest appearance by fellow blues legend Eric Clapton on that song and ‘Little Red Rooster.’

The set list in itself does a lot to make Steel Wheels Live appealing to audiences.  The set list proves itself even more critical to the recording’s presentation in that it is the exact same in the recording’s DVD, CD, digital and vinyl platforms.  In other words, audiences get the same presentation from one platform to the next.  This is important to note because even today, there are some acts out there whose live recordings vary across platforms.  So to have the same thing from one platform to the next makes the set list that much more important to the recording.

Additionally, the set list’s sequencing plays its own part to the recording’s presentation.  From the show’s opening up until the band takes on ‘Terrifying,’ the show’s energy remains relatively high.  It is not until the noted point that the band pulls things back.  The noted relaxation lasts only momentarily.  After that song and ‘Salt of the Earth,’ which features a guest appearance by Guns N’ Roses members Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin, the show’s energy picks back up.  Their performance alongside Mick Jagger and company will be addressed a little later.  ‘Honky Tonk Women’ slows things down again, but still manages to keep the concert’s energy flowing solidly thanks to its swagger.  The same can be said of ‘Midnight Rambler,’ too.  That song comes immediately after ‘Honky Tonk Women.’  From that point on, the show’s energy rises and falls in all of the right points and ways, showing without question the amount of time and thought that went into assembling the set list.  That effort paid off, too.  When this aspect is considered along with the set list’s presentation across the recording’s platforms and its breadth and depth, those elements collectively make the set list the most important aspect of this recording.  It builds a solid foundation for the recording’s presentation on which the band’s performance rests easily.

The Rolling Stones’ performance of Steel Wheels Live’s set list is important to note because it does its own part to keep audiences engaged and entertained.  Those audiences who are familiar with the band’s live show style already has an expected standard from the band.  Those audiences will be glad to know that the band lives up to that expectation here just as much as in the band’s past performances.  Front man Mick Jagger is just as confident as ever as he struts his way across the stage and sings.  That swagger is on full display just as much.  Guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood keep the energy moving along with drummer Charlie Watts, the trio’s work just as engaging as ever in its own right.  Wood and Richards’ prowess on their instruments makes one forget the woes of the world, especially as they make their way through the blues classic ‘Little Red Rooster’ alongside Eric Clapton.  The group’s performance is just as solid as it supports Rose and Stradlin in the collective’s performance of ‘Salt of the Earth.’  On a similar note, viewers will be pleased to see that Rose shares the stage with Jagger and company in that performance rather than trying to steal the spotlight.  It shows that he knows he and Stradlin are the guests here, not the stars.  Even when he gets the spotlight in ‘Cant’ Be Seen,’ Richards shows once again, his talent as a performer and not just a guitarist.  He and the band’s longtime backing vocalists make for so much enjoyment and engagement in their own way.  Between that aspect and the rest of the presentation in the concert, the band’s performance in whole makes for a wonderful experience.  It builds on the foundation formed by the show’s set list to make the recording even more enjoyable.  When the two elements are considered together, they give audiences even more reason to take in this concert.  They are still only a portion of what makes the recording so impressive.  Its production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.

Just as with all of The Rolling Stones’ past live recordings released through Eagle Rock Entertainment, the production here gives home viewers the best seat in the house.  When the cameras go out beyond the sea of people, audiences get a full picture of just how many people attended the concert, and the sheer immensity of the band’s stage setup.  The on-stage footage immerses audiences into the performance even more as it takes viewers along for the ride up close with the band.  The transitions from shot to shot throughout and the sound enrich the experience even more.  From a more relaxed moment, such as in ‘Sympathy for the Devil to the more fiery cover of ‘Harlem Shuffle’ and everywhere else, the guitars and vocals are so well-balanced with Watts’ time keeping and the work of the band’s fellow musicians.  Each performer gets an equal share of time in the limelight.  Considering that and the smooth camera transitions, no doubt is left about the impact of the concert’s production.  When this is considered along with the band’s performance and the concert’s set list, the whole of these elements makes Steel Wheels Live a presentation that is another welcome addition to The Rolling Stones and Eagle Rock Entertainment’s ongoing series of live recordings from the band.

Eagle Rock Entertainment and The Rolling Stones’ latest live recording Steel Wheels Live is yet another welcome addition to the two sides’ ongoing series of live recordings.  That is proven in part through the recording’s expansive set list.  The set list runs 26 songs deep and spans a run time of two-and-a-half hours.  Given, it is not a career-spanning set even for its time, but does still present a relatively clear cross section of the band’s catalog up to that point.  The band’s performance of the featured set list is everything that audiences have come to expect from The Rolling Stones.  The swagger and the energy is there from beginning to end.  The concert’s production values play their own part to the recording’s presentation.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this presentation.  All things considered, they make the recording as solid as steel.  Steel Wheels Live is available now.

More information on Steel Wheels Live is available along with all of its latest news at:

 

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‘Endeavour’ Reaches A Low Point In Its Seventh Season

Courtesy: itv/PBS Distribution/PBS

British television company itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour will have an eight season. Star Shaun Evans, who portrays the series’ eponymous character, confirmed the information late last month after the series’ seventh season officially wrapped on PBS and released domestically to DVD and Blu-ray.  When Season Eight starts recording is anyone’s guess.  While audiences await the premiere of Season Eight, they do have Season Seven to take in – as noted – on DVD and Blu-ray.  The show’s seventh season was an interesting point in the series’ run.  That is due in part to its writing.  That item will be addressed shortly.  The bonus content that accompanies Season Seven in its home release is just as important to note in examining the season as the writing, so it will be discussed a little later.  Considering the content featured in this latest season, the set’s average price point is also of note.  It will be examined later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the set.  All things considered, they make this latest season and its home release a key moment in the history of Endeavour.

The recently wrapped seventh season of itv’s hit crime drama Endeavour is an intriguing presentation.  That is due in part to its writing.  Unlike the series’ first six seasons, this season was presented in a serial fashion, according to Evans during a recent interview.  He pointed out that (thankfully) it is an approach that will not be taken again in the series’ eighth season.  The story opens and closes with Endeavour Morse attending the opera in Venice.  It is there that he first meets his new love interest Violetta (Stephanie Leonidas – Killjoys, Defiance, American Gothic).  Upon meeting Violetta, Morse becomes embroiled in what he thinks is an affair with a married woman, but is much more than that, as he eventually learns.  This critic will not reveal the end result of the duo’s tryst, but that the writers thought this plot element was needed is troubling.  Even his relationship issues in previous seasons with Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers – Watchmen, Privates, Shetland) were handled better than those with Violetta.  This latest romance story is just so contrived and overly commonplace for stories.  It felt so forced.  The revelation made in the season finale – which also is left here for audiences to discover for themselves – feels just as contrived as the romance subplot itself.  That revelation ties into the season’s overarching story about the homicides, which leads to even more contrivance because of how many people were involved in the crimes.  One can’t help but do a face palm as Endeavour traces all of the clues, which lead back to the ringmaster.

While the writing in general clearly caused its own share of problems this season, it did not doom the season.  Audiences will remain engaged throughout as they watch the working and personal relationship between Morse and Thursday become strained.  That strain is caused by the duo’s own distinct personalities and the related fashion in which they investigate the cases.  The only matter there is that considering how Season Seven ended, audiences were left wondering if Thursday and Morse had mended their proverbial fences.  At one point, the pair clashed, with Morse stating that he would put in for a transfer once the cases were solved.  However, it is unknown if that happened in the last scene of the season finale.  Thursday did search out Morse in that final episodes closing minutes, and he did find him.  However, audiences are still left hanging once Thursday locates Morse.  So considering that, there is a clear need for an eighth season if only for the purpose of tying up that loose end.

The only real strong writing point in this season comes in the season’s second episode, “Raga.”  It presents the rising tensions between the British community and Indian immigrants to Great Britain in the 1970s.  Now whether this matter is historically accurate is worth investigating.  That aside, it is a matter that echoes what is happening around the world today, with tensions rising everywhere against minority groups.  That makes suspension of disbelief relatively easy, at least until the killer reveals his motivation for committing his crime.  That revelation is a bit contrived in its own right.    Between this matter, the issue raised by the loose end between Morse and Thursday’s relationship, and the forgettable story involving Morse and Violetta, the writing this season just suffered all the way around.  One can only hope that the show’s writers will make up for those issues in the series’ eighth season.

The writing featured in the seventh season of Endeavour presents quite the quandary for the series, as it does something that has never been done.  Hopefully it will not be repeated in Season Eight, either.  It is just one of the concerns raised in this season, too.  The bonus features, or really lack thereof, poses its own problems.  Accompanying the episodes in this season is a series of vignettes in which various topics, such as the costuming and makeup, Morse’s relationship with Thursday, and Evans once again taking on a directorial role in the series are discussed.  Each discussion is very brief, running no more than a couple of minutes at best.  Little is really mentioned in the extra focus on Morse and Thursday that was not already known from the season’s writing.  Even the opening discussion about Morse’s evolution as a character offers little extra for viewers.  The most insightful of the bonus discussions come in the form of Evans’ discussion on directing and that of the costuming and makeup.  The other discussions are in reality, extraneous.  Viewers will be glad to see Evans’ own appreciation for what it takes to get the right angles, the impact of lighting for a scene’s mood, and other related topics.  His work behind the lens pays off, too, as is seen in the noted areas, as well as in the acting in the key episode.  The discussion on the costuming and makeup shows the lengths to which those behind the lens went to make sure that the series’ costumes and backdrops looked the part for the 1970s.  The mention of the effort to make Leonidas look like famed actress Sophia Loren in terms of her fashion shows even more, the attempts to maintain the look of the times.  It is just too bad that the discussion on making the show reflect the look of the times was not more in-depth.  For that matter, it’s too bad that none of the bonus content was more in-depth.  It would have been nice to have had some discussion on who made the decision to make Season Seven a serial season, why the writers decided to make that romance story between Violetta and Morse the center of the show, as well as where things will go between Morse and Thursday.  Sadly, that lack of extra information detracts from the show’s presentation in its recent home release even more.  Considering everything noted about the content featured in the seventh season of Endeavour, the set’s average point for its DVD and Blu-ray presentation makes for its own interest.

The average price point for Endeavour’s DVD presentation is $28.11 and its Blu-ray presentation, $33.25.  The DVD was not listed at Target, but the Blu-ray platform was.  Keeping all of that in mind, the DVD price point was obtained by averaging price listings at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million, and PBS’ online store.  The Blu-ray price point was reached by averaging prices at the noted retailers as well as at Target.  Amazon presents the least expensive listing at $22.99.  Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers offer prices below that average at $22.99 and $24.99 respectively.  Walmart’s listing of $28.23 is just above the average, while Books-A-Million far exceeds that number at $44.99.  PBS’ regular listing of $34.99 also far exceeds the average, as does its sale price of $29.99.  Books-A-Million also far exceeds the average price point for the season’s Blu-ray presentation, at $44.99 along with PBS’ listing of $39.99.  Amazon and Walmart, which each list the season’s Blu-ray set at $27.64 offer the least expensive pricing while Target and Best Buy offer a slightly higher price at $27.99.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers reaches the high end with a listing of $31.49.  Noting the set’s average and separate price listings here is important, again, because of the content featured (and not featured) in the set.  The DVD price listing would have been more attractive at maybe $25 and the Blu-ray $30 if not maybe a little less considering, again, how little bonus content is featured in the set, and how largely forgettable this season’s stories are in whole.  That is in comparison to the show’s first six seasons, each of which are so much more enjoyable in their own right.  Keeping everything noted here in mind, the seventh season of Endeavour is the series’ lowest point.  Thankfully there is at least one more season left, and hopefully it will make up for everything wrong with this season.

The seventh season of itv’s Endeavour is the least of the show’s seasons so far. That is due in part to the season’s writing.  The writing presents a season-long story that feels so forced and contrived from beginning to end.  It also leaves at least one major question unanswered.  That question is whether Morse and Thursday’s professional and personal relationship will heal following the season’s events.  The very limited bonus content poses its own problem for the set’s presentation, too.  They give viewers a glimpse behind the writing and lenses, but little more than that.  Considering everything noted here, the average price points for the season’s DVD and Blu-ray sets seem a bit high, as do the separate listings.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the season’s set.  All things considered, they make this season a presentation that hopefully will not be repeated in the series’ eighth season, whenever it launches.

More information on Endeavour is available online now at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/masterpiece

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs

 

 

 

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‘Sobering Times’ Succeeds Through Its Musical Diversity, Lyrical Duality

Courtesy: Kayos Records

Veteran singer-songwriter Ricky Byrd has made quite the name for himself throughout his professional life.  He has worked with some of the most well-known and respected artists and acts in the music industry, not the least of which being Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.  He also has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Mavis Staples, Ian Hunter (Deep Purple), Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Elvis Costello, and so many other well-respected figures in the music industry.  During his extensive stint as a member of The Blackhearts, Byrd battled drug and alcohol addiction, eventually leading to him getting clean in sober in 1987.  That battle and recovery led him to take on the topic in 2017 in his third album Clean Getaway.  Now more than three years after its release, Byrd is addressing the issue again in his latest album Sobering Times.  Scheduled for release Friday, the 12-song record is a strong companion piece and follow-up to Sobering Times.  That is due to its musical and lyrical content, which clearly build on the foundation formed in Clean Getaway.  ‘I Come Back Stronger,’ which comes just ahead of the album’s midpoint, is one way in which the album shows how that musical and lyrical content makes this record such a strong presentation.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Ain’t Gonna Live Like That’ is another way in which the album’s combined musical and lyrical content come together to engage and entertain audiences.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Together’ is one more way in which the album’s overall content shines.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of this record, the album in whole becomes one of those rare records that is worth hearing start to end without stopping.

Ricky Byrd’s fourth full-length studio recording Sobering Times is a positive new offering from the veteran singer-songwriter-guitarist.  That is proven through the record’s musical and lyrical content.  ‘I Come Back Stronger’ is one of the songs that serves to support the noted statements.  That is proven in part through the song’s musical arrangement.  The arrangement is a gentle, acoustic work that lends itself partially to thoughts of works from Bruce Springsteen.  At the same time, there is also a touch of country music incorporated into the song.  The way that the song slowly builds from its early bars through the first half to its climax and progresses to its confident second half serves well to translate the message and emotion in the song’s lyrical content.  Speaking of that lyrical content, it is engaging in its own right.

As noted, the songs featured in Byrd’s new album focus on the topic of addition, just as with the album’s predecessor.  While the song’s lyrical theme centers on the matter of overcoming addiction, it is also about taking on the issues that come with overcoming addiction.  Interestingly enough in this case, this song’s lyrical content could just as easily be about facing life’s difficulties, not just because of the battle to overcome addiction.  To that end, the song’s lyrical content adds to its impact.  The manner in which Byrd delivers his message here also adds to the impact.  Byrd sings in the song’s lead verse, “Life is a lesson we all live and learn/All the ups and the downs/And the roadblocks that get in the way/Trying to find myself/I got bruised and hurt/But I survived it all/And it made me the person I am today/Every time I fall/I come back stronger/I was broken once/But not any longer.”  The energy in the arrangement as the song reaches that climax in the chorus and the intensity with which Byrd states, “I come back stronger” is a defining moment for the song.  The impact in the message remains as strong as ever from there as Byrd enters the song’s second verse.  He sings in this verse, “When life hands you keys/That just won’t open up any doors/And you’re stuck in a rut/Feeling desperate/Down to the core/It’s the faith you find along the way/That always gets you through/I face my fears a thousand times/Every time I do/I come back stronger.”  Looking back at all of this, the message and story presented in this song is a powerful presentation of why the song is such an important addition to Byrd’s new album.  It is just one of the songs that shows what makes Byrd’s new album such a success.  ‘Ain’t’ Gonna Live Like That’ is another notable way in which the album shows its strength.

‘Ain’t Gonna Live Like That’ adds to the presentation of Sobering Times because its musical arrangement stands apart from those of the album’s other works.  This time Byrd offers audiences a powerful 12-bar blues work in the style of John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  The addition of the gospel style choral accompaniment to the arrangement adds eve more to the song’s impact, as does the light, subtle addition of the piano line at points.  The whole is a presentation that any true music lover will appreciate and that shows in its own way, the diversity in the album’s musical presentation.  The song’s lyrical content, will appeal to blues fans just as much as the musical arrangement.  That is especially the case considering that much blues lyrical content in fact centers on the matter of dealing with a matter such as addiction and the negative influences in life, just like this song.

The lyrical content featured in this song comes from the vantage point of someone who has been down the troubled road and has learned from the experiences of that journey.  He sings in the song’s lead verse, “lady or the tiger/What’s behind the door/I know one just might kill me/But I just got to get some more/The Devil’s dealin’ aces/’Cause he knows just what you need/To keep you in the alley/Beggin’ bargains on your knees/But I ain’t gonna live that/No more, no more/Hell is living for the need and the score”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Workin’ hard ain’t nothin’/Just fixin’ for a hit/Crawlin’ from the consequences/Swearin’ this is it/Lie beges a lie/And truth is layin’ low/My bull****’s thick with every trick/To get me where I got to go/But I ain’t gonna live like that/No more, no more/Hell is living for the need and the score/But I ain’t gonna live like that no more.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “Comin’ to it’s 5 p.m./I woke up three times today…Cold, tired and need some strength to get me off the ground/I pray you help me turn this down/And turn ths life around/’Cause I ain’t gonna live like that/No more, no more/Hell is livin’ for the need and the score/And I ain’t gonna live like that/No more, no more.”  Again, the topic of fighting drug addiction is nothing new to the blues, so to have such a familiar topic coupled with an equally familiar musical style makes for even more enjoyment.  Taking that into consideration, the song becomes that much clearer an example of what makes Sobering Times an enjoyable record.  It is just one more of the songs that shows why this record deserves attention.  ‘Together’ does its own share to show the album’s appeal, too.

‘Together’ takes audiences back to the 1960s with its Beatles-esque arrangement, complete with scratchy vocals, steady floor tom beat and snare, and vocal melodies.  At the same time, the song features its own bluesy influence alongside that classic rock sound.  The whole is a unique musical presentation that once again, shows the diversity in this album’s musical content.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical positive lyrical content adds even more interest to the song.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘Together’ is clear.  It delivers and promotes a message of unity for audiences. That is made clear right from the song’s outset as Byrd sings, “Have you ever found yourself  desperate for salvation/Prayin’ in the dark/For the light to guide you away/Searchin’ for answers/That just lead to more questions/You might need a little help…I used to keep my pain well-hidden/As far as you know/I’m fine as fine can be/I never let the world know/I was hurtin’/That kind of thinking was almost the death of me/We’re in this together/No need to go it alone/A helping hand when you can’t get there on your own/A body needs somebody/We can always use a friend/A little bit of loving/When the ice is getting’ thin.”  The message is made just as clear in the song’s second verse as Byrd sings, “You might think you’re the only one feeling what you’re feeling/There’s a whole lot of people out there hitting that same wall/Crawling from the wreckage/But going back for seconds/You run that…til you just can’t run anymore/I learned the hard way/ There’s strength in numbers/’Cause I tried to win a war all by myself/Side-by-sde and shoulder to shoulder/We’ll beat that devil right back to hell/We’re in this together/ No need to go it alone/A helping hand when you can’t get there on your own/A body needs somebody/We can always use a friend/A little bit of loving/When the ice is getting’ thin.”  This is a message that America and the world needs right now more than ever.  Sure it applies, again, with the matter of fighting addiction, but it also works in addressing the current state of the nation and world.  To that end, that duality in this message strengthens the song’s lyrical presentation even more.  When this is considered along with the strength created through the duality in the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the album’s lyrical content proves that much more critical to its presentation.  When the lyrical content is considered with the diverse musical content featured throughout the album, that whole makes completely clear why Sobering Times is a record that every music lover will appreciate.  In turn, it becomes one more of this year’s top new overall albums.

Ricky Byrd’s latest album Sobering Times is a powerful new presentation from the veteran singer-songwriter-musician.  That is proven in part through the record’s diverse musical content.  That content will appeal to fans of the blues, classic rock and rock in general.  The album’s lyrical themes present their own importance through their duality.  On one hand, they address battles with addiction and the recovered from said concern.  On the other hand, they can just as easily be related to life in general.  All of the songs addressed here serve to support the noted statements.  When they are considered along with all of the album’s other songs, the whole of that content unites to make the album in whole a strong new offering from Byrd that is also one more of this year’s top new albums overall and top new rock albums.  Sobering Times is scheduled for release Friday through Kayos Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Byrd’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.RickyByrd.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ricky.byrd1

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Byrdman20

 

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

Stoner Rock Fans Will Agree Places Around The Sun’s New LP Deserves It’s Own Moment In The Sun

Courtesy: Dewar PR

Independent rock band Places Around The Sun is scheduled to release its third album Friday.  The self-titled, 10-song record is a presentation that will appeal to a very specific target audience.  That is due in pat to the record’s musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The album’s lyrical content proves even more widely appealing than its musical compositions.  The 33-minute presentation’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Places Around The Sun a record that audiences will find worth hearing at least once.

Places Around The Sun’s forthcoming self-titled album is a record that stoner rock fans will find worth hearing at least once.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question exhibit a clear stoner rock sound from beginning to end.  The sound in question is easily comparable to works from the likes of Royal Blood, Fugazi, and Queens of the Stone Age.  This is a good and bad thing.  It is good because the stylistic approach to each song exhibits influences of each noted band.  It is bad in that while the arrangements do change from one to the next, the general sound and stylistic approach still remains the same.  In other words, even with variations in the songs’ arrangements, audiences get little more than the same sort of garage/stoner style work and sound from one song to the next.  Yes, there is that old adage that a person should write what he/she knows, but in the case of this record, the whole album is very much the same from one song to the next.  It makes it feel as if the band is playing it safe here.  Considering that Places Around the Sun is the band’s third album, the band should not worry about playing it safe.  Again though, fans of the stoner rock genre will appreciate this more than anyone.  While the album’s musical content is limiting in its appeal, the music’s companion lyrical content will likely find a wider appeal.

The album’s lyrical content will provide wider appeal than the album’s musical content in that it is not as limited in its spread.  ‘Bury It’ is just one of the ways in which the record’s lyrical content proves so important.  This song comes across as someone who wants to keep someone else from thinking for himself and rocking that proverbial boat.  This is inferred in the song’s lead verse, which finds front man Antonio Santos singing, “Say no more/I don’t wanna hear about it!/Keep your questions to yourself boy!/That’s not how we do things around here/Cover your eyes, mouth and ears!/Hear them come for you boy!/Lay down, close your eyes/Think twice or they’ll come!/And if you dare to wonder out I’ll keep you down!.”  The song’s chorus hints even more at that as Santos’ subject sings, “Keep your questions to yourself boy/Lay down, close your eyes/Think twice or they’ll come!/And if you dare to wonder out I’ll keep you down!/Down.”  This is a familiar topic more so to literary works than songs.  It’s someone telling another person don’t stir those proverbial waters and cause any trouble, and that if need be, the first will stop the other to prevent the problems.  It makes for an interesting presentation in its own right that will engage listeners.  ‘Down The Road’ is another key example of the importance of PATS’ lyrical content.

The lyrical content featured in ‘Down The Road’ comes across as a man looking back on his life and contemplating things.  That is inferred with relative clarity as Santos sings in the song’s lead verse, “I felt like yesterday/Those days were mine/Now that today has come/I gave it all away/Gave it all away!”  As Santos sings in the song’s second verse, “Those days are gone/And I’m in doubt/The wheel is yours and you should go/And you should go!/Turn away!/Don’t you know?,” that message seems as strong as ever.  The song’s chorus cements that message as Santos sings, “Down, down the road/Past the open bar/I’ve tried it once before/Wound up broke/There’re stories of a man/But no one heard from him/Down, down the road/Down, down the road/Maybe we’ll find our way/Somewhere down the road!”  The concept of someone looking back on what they consider a wasted life is nothing new to the music world.  The fashion in which that story was crafted here is unique, and makes that story fresh and engaging in its own right.  It makes the song one more clear example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content, and not the last.  ‘Lost I Am Found’ is one more example of why the album’s lyrical content makes the record worth hearing.

‘Lost I Am Found’ comes across as a presentation that finds its subject perhaps saying he/she is finding clarity of mind in reaching that proverbial lowest point in life.  This is inferred as Santos sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “I’ve been out wondering if I’d see you again/My mind/Oh did I lose my mind?/I’ve lost it/I don’t know how many times/It needs to get away from me/Left me out in the dark/And I need to think before I even begin to feel.”  The seeming message is illustrated even more as he sings in the song’s second verse, “I don’t wanna get stuck falling/But there ain’t much to do but fall/Let the fall lead the way.”  The refrain to the song’s chorus, which reads, “When at last I meet the ground/I meet the ground/I’ll meet the ground/Lost I am Found” heightens the sense that this is someone who has reached that noted point of enlightenment and clarity of mind.  It comes across as an uplifting message delivered to listeners that once you hit rock bottom, there is no lower that you can go but up.  To that end, this seeming message proves that much more important to the bigger picture of Places Around The Sun.  When it is considered with the other lyrical themes noted here and the rest of the album’s lyrical content, the whole of that content leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s lyrics.  When this is considered along with the record’s very targeted musical content, the two elements give the noted audiences that much more reason to hear this record along with rock fans in general.   Even with all of this in mind, the album still has one more item worth noting that makes it worth at least one listen.  That item is the album’s sequencing.

As noted already here, the musical content featured in Places Around The Sun maintains a largely stoner rock sense from one song to the next.  The approach to each song does change even with that constant sense in each arrangement.  While the vibe stays the same from start to end, the energy in the album stays relatively stable thanks to the record’s sequencing.  The energy in the songs’ arrangements stays high from one work to the next.  Even in the brief 43-second ‘Interlude,’ the energy refuses to let up.  It keeps the album moving nonstop throughout its run.  To that end, that full-on sequencing will keep listeners engaged and entertained in its own right, too.  When it is coupled with the noted lyrical themes, those elements together ensure a wide appeal for this album.  The song’s musical arrangements join with the noted content to bring those casual audiences in with the targeted stoner rock audiences.  Collectively the audiences in whole will agree that this record is worth hearing at least once.

Places Around The Sun’s forthcoming self-titled album – the band’s third album – is an interesting presentation that will garner at least some attention.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question stick stylistically to the stoner rock realm even as they change their precise arrangements from one to the next.  That approach will appeal specifically to stoner rock fans, but the lyrical content that accompanies the record’s arrangements will broaden its appeal.  That is because it presents some familiar and unique lyrical themes that are presented in their own notable fashion.  The record’s sequencing does its own part to ensure audiences are engaged and entertained from beginning to end.  The sequencing keeps the album’s energy high from start to end.  Each noted is item is important in its own right to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Places Around The Sun a work that stoner rock fans and rock fans in general will find at least somewhat appealing.  The album is scheduled for release Friday.  More information on the album is available along with all of Places Around The Sun’s latest news at http://www.facebook.com/placesaroundthesun.

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The Verve Pipe Announces Details For Next Livestream Concert

Photo Credit: Anthony Norkus

The Verve Pipe announced the details this week for its next livestream performance.

The band is scheduled to hold its next concert Oct. 10 at The Listening Room in Grand Rapids, MI.  The band and staff at The Listening Room have partnered with staff at The Ark in Ann Arbor, MI to promote the upcoming concert.

The ticketed event will feature the band performing may of its classic hits, and according to front man Brian Vander Ark, some new music, too.

“This will be a live stream like no other; an inside look at the band’s creative process,” said Vander Ark. “In addition to playing the favorites and telling some of the stories behind them, I’ll be introducing two new songs to the band for the first time, and we’ll work them out live in front of the virtual audience.”

The Ark Program Director Anya Siglin expressed enthusiasm at working with The Listening Room staff and with The Verve Pipe on the upcoming concert.

“In this time when we can’t present artists in person the way we are used to doing,” said Siglin. “The Ark is working to find ways to keep the music going and support artists, like The Verve Pipe, who mean so much to us and have been part of our musical family for so many years. It’s exciting to be able to work collaboratively and in partnership with The Listening Room in a new and creative way that supports both our venues and brings a truly special experience to our audiences.”

Tickets for The Verve Pipe’s Oct. 10 concert are available here.

In related news, The Verve Pipe recently announced another streaming concert scheduled to take place Oct. 17 live from the Orpheum Theater in Omaha, NE.  Tickets are available here.

More information on The Verve Pipe’s upcoming concerts is available along with the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.thevervepipe.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/thevervepipe

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/thevervepipe

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.

Handsome Pants Debuts New Single, ‘The Rut’

Photo Credit: Zac Sanford

Independent rock band Handsome Pants debuted its latest single this week.

The band debuted its new single ‘The Rut’ Wednesday through TheObelisk.net.  The song’s musical arrangement is a heavy, plodding composition that will appeal to fans of bands, such as Clutch, Arctic Monkeys, and ‘Royal Blood.’  Its lyrical content comes across as a story about someone dealing with some very heavy introspection about things that have been happening in his life.

The band discussed the song in a recent interview.

“Rut is the second release in our early existence as a band,” the statement reads. “This song is something Andrew has been sitting on for a long time and rewriting lyrics. Finally finding the right content and lyrics putting it together at this time seems perfect. It seems to relate to a lot of people right now and what they are going through with the pandemic and everything else happening right now.”

More information on Handsome Pants’ new single is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Handsomepants4

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PantsHandsome

 

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

The Reticent Streaming New Album, ‘The Oubliette’

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Independent prog-metal band The Reticent is streaming its new album for free.

The North Carolina-based act, which is the brainchild of Chris Hathcock, is streaming the album, The Oubliette through The Prog Space.  The band is scheduled to release its new album Sept. 25 through Heaven & Hell Records.  Produced by Jamie King (Between The Buried & Me, The Contortionist, Scale The Summit), is a concept record that addresses the topic of Alzheimers Disease.

The track listing for The Oubliette is noted below.

Track Listing:
1. Stage 1 – His Name Is Henry (9:46)
2. Stage 2 – The Captive (6:00)
3. Stage 3 – The Palliative Breath (7:13)
4. Stage 4 – The Dream (11:47)
5. Stage 5 – The Nightmare (12:14)
6. Stage 6 – The Oubliette (10:38)
7. Stage 7 – ________ (6:10)
Album Length: 1:03:50

The Reticent debuted the video for the album’s lead single ‘Stage 2: The Captive‘ last month.

The album’s will release next month will come more than four years after the release of its most recent album, 2016’s On The Eve of a Goodbye.  That record chronicled the day before, of, and after the suicide of Hathcock’s friend Eve.

The musical content featured in The Oubliette exhibits influences from Tool and fellow North Carolina-based band Between The Buried and Me.

Hathcock discussed the album’s lyrical theme in a recent interview.

“As with my previous album, I hope that ‘The Oubliette’ will provide listeners with a rich and emotionally challenging audio experience,” he said. “This is undoubtedly the most ambitious record The Reticent has attempted to date.  The hope is that listeners will be personally affected by the music on a deep level and that it may draw some attention to a disease that is frighteningly prominent but frequently poorly understood.  There will be moments that are soothing and there will be moments that are overwhelming.  The story I have to tell is not a happy one but it is an important one – and it is often through the pain that we find the most profound reflection and calls to action.”

More information on The Reticent’s new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://thereticent.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/thereticentband

 

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