Eagle Rock’s Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert Re-Issue An Amazing Way To Finish Off The Year

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Freddie Mercury, the late front man of the legendary rock band Queen, was in his time one of the single most charismatic vocalists in the music industry.  Many vocalists have tried to emulate the legendary singer’s energy and style.  Few if any have succeeded.  Sadly, Freddy Mercury was taken from the world in 1991, one of so many victims of the then emerging AIDS epidemic.  The music world paid tribute to his legacy and memory in 1992 with a special live tribute concert.  The concert, held at London’s Wembley Stadium has become one of the biggest and most  powerful live concert events of the Twentieth Century, even after more than two decades since it was originally held.  The only concert event that could compare to this event is Woodstock ’94.  And now thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, the legacy of Freddie Mercury lives on once again thanks to the Blu-ray release of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.  While this SD Blu-ray release of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert is not the first time that the concert has been released to the masses, this release is the concert’s best yet.    There is so much to be said of this latest re-issue.  The best place to start is the overall audio and video presentation.  Those charged with resurrecting the original footage are to be commended as the concert is presented here in its full original glory.  Audiences get to see the show as it looked in its original recording.  The audio sounds just as good.  This is especially the case for those with home theater systems.  The cinematography is incredible to say the least.  The crowd shots and shots of the crowd from the stage are collectively the epitome of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.  And of course, there is also the show’s set list and list of performers.  Both by themselves and collectively, they make a bold statement that puts the finishing touch on this incredible latest re-issue from Eagle Rock Entertainment.

The first and most obvious factor to investigate in Eagle Rock’s new re-issue of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert is the audio and video mix.  This concert was recorded almost twenty-two years ago.  April 20th, 2014 will mark the twenty-second anniversary of this landmark concert.  Being that high definition recording was still years away when this concert was recorded, it’s obvious that the quality of the footage would not be crystal clear in this presentation.  But Eagle Rock openly noted on the recording’s case that this presentation is a Standard Definition Blu-ray.  That means that Eagle Rock openly notes that the presentation contained therein is a standard definition recording.  Those expecting pure 1080 quality video have only misled themselves.  Eagle Rock Entertainment is not to blame here.  That the footage still looks as good as it does over two decades later is a testament to those charged with maintaining and resurrecting it.  And having the option to set one’s TV to “Cinema” to gain the full concert video experience only serves to make it even better.

The quality of the concert’s video footage is impressive to say the very least.  It is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio.  Though, with the advent of high definition televisions, most viewers can set their monitors to present the concert in full “Cinema” mode.  That mode shows better than any how well the footage has stood the test of time.  The audio mix is just as impressive as the video in terms of its quality.  Every riff, every beat, and every chorus from the crowd of thousands is enhanced on this re-issue.  In comparison to the concert’s previous releases, the audio mix has never sounded better.  It has been enhanced so much that at times, the echoes of Brian May’s voice as he talked will make audiences think they are actually there in person.  It has been mixed that well.  That is quite the testament to those charged with restoring this concert to its former glory.  And along with the footage, it is one part of a very strong cornerstone of this recording.

The video and audio mixes serve collectively as a solid base for The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.  The concert’s cinematography adds an extra element of enjoyment to the recording, too.  Much as was the case with Eagle Rock’s release of The Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park Live this Fall, the camera shots obtained over the course of this concert are extraordinary.  There is something to be said about an entire stadium full of people singing in unison, arms high in the air, clapping in time. The visual effect both from the stage and from high above the sea of bodies is something that cannot be put into words.  It is something that must be seen to be fully appreciated.  Even seeing the shots in question from one’s own sofa, bed, etc. is awe inspiring.  They collectively go to show the love that so many people had for Freddie Mercury and for Queen.  While the concert’s audio and video mixes are the foundation on which the concert rests, the shots obtained by the camera crews give the show its shape.  And what a shape those crews give the concert.

As one should be able to tell from everything noted already, there is much to like about Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new re-issue of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on SD Blu-ray.  Much has already been examined with this latest release from the leader in live recordings.  But it would not be complete without making mention of the concert’s set list and its equally diverse lineup of performers.  The show itself is set up into two separate segments.  The first of those segments is the “Opening Acts” segment.  This segment allows some of the acts tapped to perform at the concert to perform their own music and warm up the crowd at the same time.  This segment runs the gamut to say the very least.  It opens with a trio of songs from Metallica and follows that up with a medley of Queen hits courtesy of Extreme.  Guns N’ Roses (the original Guns N’ Roses) closes out the opening acts segments.  Def Leppard is also one of the opening acts.  Their front man, Joe Elliot, joins Elton John, George Michael, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, and so many other acts from across the music industry for the “Main Show” segment of the recording.  Having such a wide array of artists covering the music of one band is a bold statement.  It shows the impact that Queen had on them as bands and artists.  It also goes to show the respect that those bands and artists had for Freddie Mercury.  It goes to show the kind of person he was and how important he was to so many around him.  Keeping that in mind while watching the incredible shots, and hearing the equally incredible song selections is sure to bring a smile and maybe even a tear to some viewers’ faces.  If it does one, the other, or both, then it has most certainly done its job.  It means that Eagle Rock is that much more justified in once again unearthing this important piece of music history.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Stewart Re-Invents Himself Yet Again On His Third Country Outing

Courtesy:  Weapons of Mass Entertainment

Courtesy: Weapons of Mass Entertainment

Dave Stewart has done it again.  The former Eurythmics star has re-invented himself once again on his latest record, Lucky Numbers.  The third of his Nashville records, this record comes across as the culmination of Stewart’s journey into the country music world.  And it goes without saying that if this is the last of his country records, it is his best yet.  The record offers a little of something for everybody over the course of eleven tracks.  The album’s opener, ‘Every Single Night’ is quite the interesting way to kick off this album.  That’s because while it does boast a country element, it’s also slightly tinged with an 80s sound, too.  The addition of country superstar Martina McBride doesn’t hurt the record, either.  And its radio edit, is little different.  It’s just one of the songs that listeners will enjoy on this record.  Just as enjoyable is the semi-bluesy ‘Drugs Taught Me a Lesson.’  This song doesn’t necessarily have a country vibe about it.  But its theme of past drug use set alongside its mid-tempo musical side make it another of the album’s high points.  Speaking of high points, the album’s third track, ‘How To Ruin A Romance’ is one more of those high points.  Its playful energy and equally comical yet true lyrical side will most assuredly have anyone smiling as they sing along.  These are just a few of the most notable of the songs from Stewart’s new album.  For those that want something a little softer, Stewart has a relatively good offering of softer material, too.  Along with the more up-tempo songs, they put Dave Stewart into this critic’s list of the year’s best new records again.’

‘Every Single Night’ opens Lucky Numbers.  This mid-tempo pop country tune is a good re-introduction for Stewart.  It’s quite the interesting opener, too.  It’s light pop/rock vibe conjures thoughts of Phil Collins and certain other well-known acts from the 80s.  That’s thanks to the keyboard and drums that largely drive the song.  Ironically, it’s that same solid drumming that is sure to have audiences at Stewart’s live shows raising their hands and clapping together in time to the song.  Guest star Martina McBride actually serves to make the song feel even more like a pop song straight from the late 80s with her vocal prowess.  It adds a certain charm as the pair sings, “That’s why the rain came/Every single night/Every single night/Like a ball and chain/Every single night/Every single night/I’m never gonna cry again/Every single night/Every single night/Don’t ask me why again/Every single night/Every single night.”  The charm of the duo singing together along with the song’s musical side makes it so easy to close one’s eyes and actually see them singing.  Even images of the pair singing together will come across to some just like a music video from the 80s.  Is that bad?  Not necessarily.  It’s actually somewhat endearing.  And that endearing feeling is the heart of the song.  Stewart and McBride have hit an emotional nerve with listeners that will lead to the above mentioned reactions.

After the feel good vibes created in ‘Every Single Night’, one might wonder how Stewart could possibly follow up that song.  He follows it up by changing things up in every sense of the term.  Instead of offering more of that endearing classic rock vibe, Stewart turns bluesy on the album’s next song, ‘Drugs Taught Me A Lesson.’  He was joined by Vanessa Amorosi and The Ringmaster Chorus on this song.  This is another of those songs that make it so easy for audiences to envision Stewart live on stage, performing the song.  It’s so easy to see the Ringmaster’s Chorus behind Stewart, swaying back and forth, smiling as they sing and clap in time.  The song’s laid back piano riff mixed with its infectious groove laid down by Stewart’s bassist make the song even more fun.  And one can’t forget the incredible guitar work in this track, either.  All three elements together make the song’s lyrical side hit even harder, believe it or not.  That’s because Stewart is singing from the vantage point of someone having gotten past drug addiction.  He sings, “Drugs taught me a lesson/How to lose control/Drugs taught me a lesson/Just how I lose my soul/And that’s one hard lesson to learn.”  It would have been so easy to take a more somber road on this song.  Stewart took chose otherwise.  And it paid off, too.  It shows that there is hope for those struggling to get past drug addiction, and the joy that can result in living a clean life.  So for that, kudos is in order for Stewart and company.

Stewart and his band mates maintain the light hearted vibe established in the album’s second song with the very next piece, ‘How To Ruin A Romance.’  This song just cries country.  It is really the first pure country style song on this record.  Stewart and guest musician Vanessa Amorosi sing playfully about all the ways that people—particularly men—ruin a romance.  From not taking a cue from a woman to passing up the chance to talk to a woman or even kiss her, he and Amorosi outline rather well all the things to not do.  They offer up even more ways that a romance can be romance can be ruined.  And there are a lot of ways to ruin a romance, too, as listeners will find out.  Add in some nice guitar solos and solid drumming, and listeners get yet another enjoyable song from Stewart’s new album.

As one can hopefully tell by now, there is plenty of reason for audiences to applaud Dave Stewart on his latest LP.  He offers much more from which listeners can choose as their own favorite songs.  There is more light hearted material throughout the record as well as more heartfelt material for those wanting to hear Stewart’s softer side.  Altogether, it works to make Lucky Numbers another hit from Dave Stewart, and another album from Stewart that makes this critic’s list of the year’s best new albums.  Fans will get to hear these songs and even more of his material in just a couple of months when he performs at “VaVoom…A Rock and Roll Circus” in Los Angeles, California on Thursday, January 30th.  Tickets for that show are available now and can be ordered online at http://goldenvoice.com/shows/details/?id=245809.  All of the latest information on more upcoming shows and news from Dave Stewart is available online at http://www.facebook.com/davestewart and http://davestewart.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Dave Stewart Set To Release Eighth Solo Album This Fall

Courtesy:  Kobalt Label Services

Courtesy: Kobalt Label Services

Dave Stewart’s new album, Lucky Numbers, will be released this Fall, just over a year since the release of his most recent album, Ringmaster General.   It is the third release from Stewart in as many years, and will be the eighth full length solo release for Stewart, who is most well-known for his role of half of the 80s pop act, Eurythmics alongside Annie Lennox.

The first single from Lucky Numbers, ‘Every Single Night’ is currently playing at radio stations nationwide.  It can be downloaded via iTunes now at

Courtesy:  Kobalt Label Services

Courtesy: Kobalt Label Services

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/every-single-night-feat.-martina/id681124293?ign-mpt=uo%3D4.

A lyric video for the single is set to debut Monday, August 19th.  Fans can expect more of the 60s infused rock sound that permeated Stewart’s previous pair of releases on Lucky Numbers.  Stewart was joined by guitarist Tom Bukovac, drummer Chad Cromwell, bassist Michael Rhodes, pianist Mike Rojas, pedal steel guitarist Dan Dugmore and multi-talented musician Kieran Kiely on Lucky Numbers.  Kiely’s talents included songs featuring her on accordion, flute, and the Irish bodhran drum, which can be heard on the album’s lead single.

Stewart pulled in some big names to provide their talents to his latest album.  One of the biggest of those guests was none other than Martina McBride.  She provided guest vocals on the album’s lead single.  Also joining Stewart this time out were:  Karen Elson (‘Nashville Snow’), Australian pop star Vanessa Amorosi (‘What’s Wrong With Me’), famed Broadway actress Laura Michelle Kelly and violinist Ann Marie Calhoun (‘You and I’), and Lynn Mabry joined by a gospel choir (Drugs Taught Me a Lesson’ and ‘What’s Wrong with Me’).

Stewart shared his insights on Lucky Numbers in a recent interview about the upcoming album.  “The two worlds collide in the most beautiful way,” he said.  “I’m singing one thing in my mind, and they’re playing something completely different, but it works.”

The track listing for Lucky Numbers is listed below.

Lucky Numbers Track Listing

Every Single Night
Drugs Taught Me A Lesson
How To Ruin A Romance
What’s Wrong With Me
Satellite
Why Can’t We Be Friends
You and I
Nashville Snow
Never Met A Woman Like You
One Step Too Far
Lucky Numbers

Stewart will kick off a tour in support of Lucky Numbers on Thursday, September 12th at the famed Troubador in West Hollywood, California.  From there, Stewart will head overseas to tour Europe beginning Saturday, September 28th in Cologne, Germany.  The most current slate of tour dates is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/davestewart and http://davestewart.com 

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

Dave Stewart Celebrating new release with mini-tour

British music legend Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) will release his new album, “The Ringmaster General” this Fall.  In celebration, Stewart will be performing four shows in the United Kingdom.  The mini-tour kicks off witha homecoming concert at the Empire Theatre in Sunderland.  That date will be followed by dates in Birmingham, Manchester, and London. 

“The Ringmaster General” was recorded and mixed by John McBride, who also had a hand in his previous album, “The Blackbird Diaries.”  It will feature thirteen brand new songs.  Among those new songs will be duets with Alison Krauss, Diane Birch, and Joss Stone. 

Stewart said of “The Ringmaster General”, “I called my trusted buddy and co-producer Mike Bradford and warned him we were going back into the vortex armed with nothing but a brand new guitar.”  He added, “All the appropriate circus rascals were summoned and thus began the five- day marathon madness that aptly describes a DAVE STEWART solo album/party.”

Fans can keep up with all the latest from Dave Stewart online at http://www.davestewart.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/davestewart, and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/davestewart.

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