ABKCO’s ‘Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia’ Soundtrack Is A Mostly Successful Presentation

Courtesy: ABKCO

Lifetime officially debuted its much anticipated biopic about Mahalia Jackson over the weekend.  In coordination with the made-for-TV movie’s premiere, ABKCO released the movie’s official soundtrack Friday, to all digital outlets.  The 20-song soundtrack is a presentation that many listeners will find interesting.  That is due in part to its general presentation.  This will be discussed shortly.  While the general presentation makes for plenty of interest, the limitation on the soundtrack’s availability detracts somewhat from its appeal.  It will be discussed a little later.  Taking into account the problem posed by the limitation on the soundtrack’s availability, it is not enough to make the presentation a failure.  There is still one more positive to note in the way of the performances. They will be discussed a little later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the soundtrack’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the soundtrack a presentation that is worth hearing at least once.

ABKCO’s newly released soundtrack to Lifetime network’s Mahalia Jackson biopic, Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia is a presentation that audiences will find mostly interesting.  Most of that interest comes from the soundtrack’s general presentation.  This soundtrack is presented more like a “cast recording” for a musical than that of some big screen presentation.  It features songs performed in the movie alongside instrumentals composed by the soundtrack’s producer, Matthew Head.  The full songs were performed primarily by lead star and Juliard graduate Danielle Brooks.  Her performances and the instrumentals will be discussed in more depth later.  Most of the songs are relatively short, with the longest clocking in at three minutes, 24 seconds.  The shortest of the songs is a mere 53 seconds in length.  So what audiences get here is a soundtrack whose pacing is solid, even despite the presentation featuring so many songs.  What’s more, the songs are works that were pulled directly from the movie, rather than just a bunch of commercially-produced works created by random acts for the purpose of pushing new singles.  That whole makes the soundtrack’s general presentation a solid, welcoming foundation for the soundtrack.

For all of the appeal that the soundtrack’s general presentation creates for its whole, the limitation on the soundtrack’s availability detracts from that appeal.  As noted already here, the soundtrack was released to all digital outlets Friday.  A check of all of the major retailers found no physical availability for the soundtrack.  Simply put, it makes this limited availability somewhat discriminatory against those who prefer the physical object over the digital.  That is not to say that ABKCO will not at some point, make the soundtrack available in physical format, but regardless, aiming it mainly at digital music consumers over those who buy physical even to start out does detract from the soundtrack’s appeal to a point.  Thankfully, that one issue is not enough to make the soundtrack a failure.  The actual performances featured in the recording work with the general presentation to make the soundtrack more appealing.

The performances that are presented in the soundtrack to Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia are of note because they are not lip synched.  Far too often, many studios that present musicals tend to use separate performers for speaking and singing parts in musicals.  That is not limited just to Disney, either.  Thankfully that is not the case here, Lead star Danielle Brooks puts her training from Juliard on full display throughout the recording.  Her performance in ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child’ is a prime example of her talent.  The power and control that she exhibits in this fully a capella performance is incredible to say the very least.  It is the kind of performance that raises goose bumps on a person’s arms in the best way possible. On a separate note, Head’s composition, ‘Estelle’s Childhood’ evokes its own emotion through its simple piano line and what sounds like a subtle cello line.  The composition is the record’s shortest, but is so powerful even in that short space.  On yet another note, Head’s light hearted performance of ‘Sweetened Water Song,’ with its semi-ragtime feel presents its own identity and positive sense.  Whether through this brief arrangement, the others noted here and the rest of the soundtrack’s featured songs, the whole of that presentation makes unquestionable, the talent put on display throughout the soundtrack.  When the appeal generated by the soundtrack’s performances is considered along with that generated by the record’s general presentation, the whole makes the soundtrack well worth hearing at least once.  That is the case even considering the limitation in the recording’s availability.

ABKCO’s newly released soundtrack to Lifetime’s Mahalia Jackson biopic, Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia is a presentation that is a mostly successful work.  That is proven in part through its general presentation.  The general presentation here is that of a soundtrack that is more akin to that of a stage musical than so many of the commercially produced presentations out there that are used for acts to push new singles, etc.  That in itself makes for its own share of appeal.  While the soundtrack’s general presentation makes for its own share of appeal, the limitation in its availability to – at least right now – only digital detracts from the soundtrack’s appeal to a point.  Luckily that negative is not enough to make the soundtrack a failure, but it does still detract from the overall presentation here.  The performances presented by star Danielle Brooks and the compositions crafted by Matthew Head, the soundtrack’s producer, work with  the  general presentation to make for even more appeal.  When the two elements are considered along with the soundtrack’s one negative, the whole becomes a work that is mostly a successful offering.  The soundtrack to Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia is available now through all digital outlets.

More information on this and other titles from ABKCO is available along with the label’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.abkco.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/abkco

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/ABKCO

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Hilton Valentine, Founding Member Of The Animals, Dies At 77

Photo Credit: Germaine Valentine

January is not yet over, but the entertainment world is mourning the loss of yet another of its own today.

Hilton Valentine, a founding member of the famed rock band The Animals, has died. According to a press release distributed Friday night, Valentine died Friday. His death was revealed by his wife, Germaine Valentine, according to the document.

Valentine was part of the original lineup of The Animals, which also featured among its members, Chas Chandler, Alan Price, Eric Burdon, and John Steel. He was a member of the band when it released hits, such as ‘House of the Rising Sun,’ ‘Baby Let Me Take You Home,’ ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,’ ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place,’ ‘It’s My Life,’ and ‘Don’t Bring Me Down.’

As a member of The Animals, Valentine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. The band was honored with a spot on Hollywood’s Rock Walk of Fame in May 2001.

Burdon spoke warmly of Valentine during a recent interview with Guitar International.

“It really was Hilton who made the early Animals a rock band because I don’t think the element of rock was in the band until we found him,” he said. “In those days, Hilton wasn’t just playing rock ‘n’ roll, he looked rock ‘n’ roll. Here was a guy with the greased mop of hair combed back, cheap leather jacket, winkle picker shoes, black jeans and a smile on his face playing through an echoplex, which was a secret weapon back then.”

Valentine would reunite with his band mates in The Animals over the years. He also released a solo album, All in Your Head, in 1969 for Capitol Records. The reunions with his band mates resulted in the release of at least one album, Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted, in 1977.

The news release distributed adds that in recent years, Valentine had formed his own band, Skiffledog, and toured with the band in the U.S. and U.K. The band released two albums, It’s Folk ‘n’ Skiffle, Mate! and Skiffledog on Coburg ST. Additionally lent a helping hand to other bands, such as The Woggles, and The Headless Horsemen.

Valentine released a holiday album titled Merry Skifflemas! in 2011. Big Boy Pete assisted with that recording.

The noted press release quotes ABKCO, which had its own role in Valentine’s life and career, as mourning his passing in a prepared statement.

“We at Abkco have been privileged to serve as stewards of The Animals catalog and his passing is felt in a truly profound way by the entire Abkco family,” the statement reads.

Hilton Valentine was 77 years old.

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Rolling Stones’ “Clearly Classic” Vinyls Are Among 2014’s Best Re-Issues

Courtesy:  ABKCO

Courtesy: ABKCO

Early this Spring, ABKCO re-issued to audiences around the world three more of The Rolling Stones’ most beloved albums.  The albums in question are: Get Yer Ya-Yas Out: The Rolling Stones in Concert, 12 X 5, and the band’s hits collection Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2).  All three titles were re-issued as part of ABKCO’s ongoing “Clearly Classic” series.  And for audiences that prefer the vintage sound of vinyl to the more spit-shined sound of music on a CD or an MP3, these three latest re-issues are the perfect fit.  That sound is only part of what audiences will appreciate in these latest re-issues.  That they have been re-issued with their original artwork makes each vinyl even more enjoyable for fans of The Rolling Stones.  Last but definitely not least of all, each of these re-issues can be purchased by themselves or collectively depending on whether or not one already owns the original vinyls.  All three factors together make these vinyls the year’s top three music re-issues of 2014.

The central point in the enjoyment of ABKCO’s recently re-issued Rolling Stones titles is of course its sound. And it goes without saying that the sound on these re-issues could not be better. The sound is just as wonderful as it was in the vinyls’ original releases.  Only in the case of these “Clearly Classic” re-issues, it actually sounds even better as if it was on CD.  It sounds especially impressive on the band’s live release Get Yer Ya-Yas Out: The Rolling Stones in Concert.  Considering how many years ago that concert was originally recorded, it’s incredible that it sounds as good today as it did then.  Those charged with re-mastering the sound on that concert recording or this new re-issue are to be applauded for their efforts.  Much the same can be said of the sound on both 12 X 5 and Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2).  In the case of the songs on the latter of that pair, they have been added to nearly every one of the Stones’ many hits collections released over the years.  So it’s nice to hear them in one of their earlier hits collections.  There’s just a different quality that can’t be fully put into words.  It is something that must be heard first hand to be fully appreciated.

Audiences will appreciate the sound of the songs on these three latest Rolling Stones re-issues.  The sound on all three vinyls is just as impressive as that of the songs in their CD re-issues. Audiences will also appreciate in these re-issues the fact that they have been presented with their original artwork. There are so many labels out there today that try to revamp albums all the way down to their cover art as a means to market the albums. ABKCO didn’t take that route with these re-issues. It proves once more just how much the company wanted to honor both the historical significance of the albums and the band itself. Even more, it also shows a certain level of respect for the audiences, too. Older audiences will appreciate this as it will add to the sense of nostalgia established through the albums’ re-issues. Younger audiences that might be hearing these releases for the first time will appreciate them more for their historical significance. A comparison of such artwork to that of so many of today’s albums shows a vast stylistic difference. Unlike so many of today’s releases, there is nothing sexy or controversial about these releases’ artwork. That means that the attention will largely be on the music. The end result is a deeper appreciation for music that is plain and simple, real.

The transfer of the Rolling Stones’ original albums from CD back to vinyl on these re-issues is impressive to say the least. The sound quality is just as wonderful as ever. The use of the releases’ original artwork makes the overall listening experience even more enjoyable whether one is new to the world of The Rolling Stones or a far more seasoned fan. There is still one last aspect of these re-issues worth noting in their success. That final aspect in the success of these albums is the ease of purchasing them. They can each be purchased now via Amazon. And all three albums are below the thirty-dollar mark. So they are also affordable for audiences. Considering that many markets lack an indie store where fans could potentially pick up these vinyl re-issues, this ease of ordering becomes an even more important aspect to their overall enjoyment and success. Get Yer YaYas Out can be ordered directly via Amazon at http://smarturl.it/YaYasLP, while 12 X 5 and Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) can be ordered at http://smarturl.it/12x5LP and http://smarturl.it/TTPDVinyl respectively. That cost effectiveness and ease of ordering along with the releases’ artwork and quality sound transfer back to vinyl each partners together in the overall presentation of these releases to make them absolute must haves for any true-blooded Rolling Stones fan. It also makes them three of this year’s top new re-issues.

More information on The Rolling Stones is available online at http://www.facebook.com/therollingstones,http://www.rollingstones.com and http://twitter.com/rollingstones.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.

New Vinyl Re-Issues Three More Reasons To Love The Stones

Courtesy:  ABKCO

Courtesy: ABKCO

The Rolling Stones have been celebrating a mark that very few bands and artists can claim.  The British blues rock based band has been celebrating half a century together this year.  As part of the ongoing celebration, a number of the band’s works have been reissued in recent months.  Among them have been the likes of Charlie is my Darling and a new greatest hits compilation (at least the third hits compilation from the band).  Earlier this summer, three more Stones works were re-issued in celebration of the band’s anniversary.  Those albums were Let It Bleed, Hot Rocks 1964 – 1971, and Beggar’s Banquet.  The albums in question weren’t re-issued on CD.  Rather, they were re-issued on vinyl, as a gift to all of the band’s long-time fans.  Sure, it’s nice to have the technology that is available today for music.  But it’s just as wonderful to have these classic releases re-issued on vinyl.

All three re-issues are such a joy first and foremost because of the sound quality on each set’s transfer.  Many people listen to vinyls because of the static on the records.  While the audio has been cleaned up on these re-issues, there’s still a certain feeling of hearing the original masters on a vinyl yet crystal clear.  It appeases both younger audiences and those with more knowledge of the band’s catalogue.  Hot Rocks 1964 – 1971 is presented in a double gatefold packaging.  Instead of the old school dark vinyl, this set’s discs are presented in clear 180 gram vinyl, just as with the other two vinyl re-issues of Beggar’s Banquet and Let It Bleed.  Both discs are safely packed inside their own sleeve so as to protect them just as with old any old school vinyl.  Inside the double-gatefold packaging, fans will find a collage of classic Rolling Stones photos complete with liner notes. This adds even more to the feeling of nostalgia that will be felt from simply holding the clear vinyl discs.

Courtesy:  ABKCO

Courtesy: ABKCO

The second of the new vinyl re-issues from ABKCO and the Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed is one of the greatest of the greatest albums released from Mick and the gang.  This vinyl is presented just as the original album was presented.  It comes complete with hits such as ‘Gimme Shelter’, ‘Midnight Rambler’ and what is one of the band’s biggest hits of all time, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ among many other hits.  This album was re-issued on 180-gram clear vinyl just as with Hot Rocks 1964 – 1971.  It should be noted here that the third in the set, Beggar’s Banquet was also released on 180-gram clear vinyl.  It was all part of ABKCO’s clear vinyl project.  These releases are just part of the larger program by ABKCO to release a number of artists’ classic albums on clear vinyl.  It is a wise marketing move in that it is much more appealing to the eye than old school vinyls.  And again, with the advances in technology, the audio is crystal clear.  That combined with the original artwork gives fans the best of both worlds yet again. 

Much the same already noted of Hot Rocks 1964 – 1971 and Let it Bleed can be noted of Beggar’s Banquet, too.  It would be redundant to bring about the same notes one more time that have already been stated.  What can be said in closing about not just Beggar’s Banquet, but of all three re-issues in this set is that this trio of albums from ABKCO and The Rolling Stones make a wonderful gift to fans from what is one of the greatest bands in the history of rock music.  As impressive as all three vinyl re-issues turn out to be, one can only wonder if ABKCO and the Rolling Stones will re-issue any other of the band’s classic LPs as it winds down its fiftieth anniversary, or beyond.  While fans wait for an answer to that question, audiences have quite a way to pass the wait with these records.  And audiences with more knowledge of the Stones’ history have quite the start on a trip down memory lane.  All three vinyl re-issues are available in stores and online now.  All three records can be ordered online direct from the ABKCO store at http://www.abkco.com/index.php/store/.

Courtesy:  ABKCO

Courtesy: ABKCO

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Moonrise Kingdom soundtrack shines on its own

Courtesy: ABKCO

Classical and country are two wholly separate styles of music.  So the thought of combining the two polar opposites on one compilation is enough to make any listener do a double take.  It goes without saying that by all logic, it’s a major risk.  While the combination of the pair on the soundtrack to the new indie flick, “Moonrise Kingdom” was a risk, the end result was a sucess.

Being an indie-flick, not every person across the country will get to see the movie.  But everyone can check out the soundtrack.  It combines some of the best of Hank Williams, Sr. with equally impressive classical works from the likes of Camille Satin-Seans and Franz Schubert.  And composer Alexandre Desplat has his own works throughout the compilation, too.  His seven part ‘The Heroic Weather-Conditions of The Universe’ opus tells its very own story.  Though it’s likely tied in to the plot of a big storm coming while the parents of the young lovers search for them.  Listeners don’t even have to have seen the movie to appreciate the entire work, even in its separated form.

‘The Heroic Weather-Conditions of The Universe’ opens with the soft, mysterious movement, ‘A Veiled Mist.’  The name alone hints at images of the unknown. From there, the musical story builds more and more until it finally culminates in the ending gentility of the final movement, ‘After The Rain.’  This movement conjures images of the violent storm from the movie finally making its way through and then everything finally being calm once it has passed.  It’s a wonderful manner in which to tell a story. The final movement brings Desplat’s story full circle.  And just as the soundtrack opened with a young person introducing audiences to the different parts of the orchestra, so does it close.  It all combines to give audiences a total sense of fulfillment after taking the musical journey.

Not everybody who listens to this soundtrack might be a fan of classical music.  That’s fine.  It also offers some great classic country from the legend himself, Hank Williams, Sr.  The soundtrack includes his hits, ‘Kaw-Liga’, ‘Long Gone Lonesome Blues’, and ‘Ramblin Man.’  And for those who have perhaps never been exposed to Williams’ work, this trio of songs is a great first introduction to one of country music’s greatest voices.

Moonsrise Kingdom is out in theaters nationwide.  It may not be in every theater in every city across the country.  But its soundtrack is available now.  Whether one is a fan of classical or classic country, both sides have something enjoyable to which they can listen.  It may even serve to introduce a whole new generation of listeners to two great musical styles without even having to take them to see the associated movie.  Keeping that in mind, the Moonrise Kingdom soundtrack is worth at least a single listen.

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