Mick Kolassa’s New Record Proves Even The Blues Can Work As Holiday Music

Courtesy: Endless Blues Records

Blues artist Mick Kolassa and his musician friends are doing their part this year to help audiences have an option from all of the run of the mill holiday music collections.  They are doing so through Kolassa’s recently released record, Uncle Mick’s Christmas Album.  Released Oct. 15 through Endless Blues Records, the nine-song compilation succeeds in providing audiences with that noted option.  That is thanks to its original compositions and its unique takes on so many holiday standards.  Kolassa offers audiences three originals over the course of the collection’s 36-minute run time.  Two of those songs – ‘Christmas Morning Blues’ and ‘Beale Street Christmas Jam’ – close out the record and are unquestionably the best of that trio.  Each will be discussed by itself here. In terms of the covers, there are plenty of notable entries.  The most notable of those covers (at least in the ears and mind of this critic) comes in Kolassa and company’s take of ‘Merry Christmas Baby.’  It will also be addressed later.  Each song noted here does its own part to make Uncle Mick’s Christmas Album enjoyable.  When they are considered with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes this record a true standout among this year’s field of new holiday music collections that is well worth hearing every year.

Mick Kolassa’s recently released holiday music collection, Uncle Mick’s Christmas Album is unquestionably one of the top titles in this year’s field of new holiday music records.  That is proven from beginning to end of the nearly 40-minute record through its unique originals and equally enjoyable covers.  Among the most notable of the originals featured in this record is its penultimate entry, ‘Christmas Morning Blues.’  This song is so fun in part because of its musical arrangement.  The musical arrangement is a clear Chicago-based blues sound.  The use of the harmonica and guitar immediately conjures thoughts of the best works of Junior Wells.  At the same time, there is no denying the influence of B.B. King here, especially in the combination of the guitar line, the sound of the drums (thanks to the production) and even Kolassa’s own vocals.  Kolassa’s vocals are so eerily similar to those of King through their tone and delivery style.  This even as the picture of Kolassa on the record’s cover makes him look like a cross between a bluesy Santa and a perfect fit as a member of ZZ Top.

As much as the song’s musical arrangement does for its enjoyment, it is just one part of what makes the song engaging and entertaining.  The song’s lyrical theme also plays into its enjoyment.  In the case of this song, the theme is clear.  The song’s protagonist wakes up on Christmas morning, and the woman he loves is gone.  Considering this, one would imagine this should have been a much more subdued work in the way of its musical arrangement.  But the energy in the arrangement does well to help translate the sense of shock that the subject feels in making the discovery.  The subject pleads to the woman here, “You didn’t leave no letter/Didn’t tell me I’d done/I bought all these presents/Put’ em underneath the tree/I spent my money on your presents/Laid ‘em on down underneath the tree/Look like you took ‘em with you/But you didn’t leave none for me/I wanted to go see my brother/Looks like you took my car/I tried to go to my brother’s house/You took my car/Now I’m standing here at home/And I Don’t know where you are.”  He continues, “What’d I do wrong, baby/Why you gotta treat me this way?/I been good to you baby/But you treat me this way/You leave me standing here all alone on Christmas Day/I treated you like a princess/Now you treat me so bad/I gave you what you asked for/Now you treat me so bad/It’s the worst Christmas/This poor boy ever had.”  He goes on from here with his pleas in similar style.  What is so great about this is that this kind of situation is not limited to just a Christmas setting.  It just happens to take place on Christmas in this case, but it is a theme that is used so often in the blues in general.  So essentially, what Kolassa has done with his fellow musicians is crafted a standard Chicago style blues composition complete with familiar lyrical theme and simply placed in against a Christmas backdrop.  It makes the song that much more original and enjoyable.  It is just one of the record’s most notable originals.  ‘Beale Street Christmas Jam’ is another great original presentation.

‘Beale Street Christmas Jam’ stands out in part thanks to its musical arrangement.  The Chicago style blues approach is exhibited once again here.  At the same time though, Kolassa also incorporates a touch of rockabilly a la Chuck Berry and even the most subtle touch of Dixieland to the mix for a whole that surprisingly works so well all in all.  James Cunningham’s drum solo and Bill Ruffino’s bass solo work alongside the guitar work of Kolassa and fellow guitarist Jeff Jensen to make for so much fun here.  Throughout the song, the group, including trumpet player Marc Franklin, take on so many holiday classics to make for even more enjoyment.  Among the songs covered in the medley are songs, such as ‘Jingle Bells,’ ‘What Child is This?/Greensleaves,’ and ‘Silver Bells.’  ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ even get their own brief mentions courtesy of Kolassa, Jensen, and Ruffino.  All things considered here, this full-on instrumental track proves itself another great original composition, even being a medley of covers.  That is because the unique way in which the group took on the songs.  Few if any arrangements of this sort are out there.  If they do exist, they are so few and far between that it makes this rendition that much more enjoyable and successful.  Together with ‘Christmas Morning Blues,’ the two songs collectively show clearly what makes Kolassa and company’s originals in this record so enjoyable.  They are just a part of what makes the record stand out.  Staying on the matter of covers, the group’s take of ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ shows the group’s strength with the holiday covers (even more).

‘Merry Christmas Baby’ stands out among the collection’s covers because of the way in which Kolassa and company took on the standard.  He does honor to the original from Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore’s 1947 original.  The duo’s original, which featured vocals by Charles Brown, is its own great 12-bar blues style work that incorporates piano and guitar (and even incorporates ‘Jingle Bells’ into the mix) for a subtle whole that is fully engaging and entertaining.  Kolassa and company take that original and build on its success by moving the piano/keyboard to a nice, subtle supporting role and making Kolassa’s guitar line the lead.  Cunningham’s work on the drums works alongside Kolassa, keyboardist Rick Steff, and Ruffino to give the song a sound and stylistic approach that is just as close to works from Stevie Ray Vaughan as to that of Baxter, Moore, and Brown.

Even more interesting in this song is that while the song’s arrangement is a subdued 12-bar blues style work, the lyrical theme is actually positive.  This song presents a man who is just happy to be with his woman during the holidays.  This is a man who just wants to be with him woman and is so suave about it all.  Every guy can take a cue from him and not be afraid to be that cool about things.  They can use the song, as a matter of fact, to help show their women how happy and lucky they are to have their lady loves.  This is important because so commonly, 12-bar blues style songs are used for less happy moments.  So to use this infectious sound and approach for such a happy mood and theme makes the song stand out even more.  When it is considered along with the other songs examined here, the grouping gives audiences all the more reason to take in this record this and every holiday season.

As noted, they are hardly the last of the record’s most notable tracks.  The country blues approach taken in ‘Jingle Bells’ for instance, gives that standard the most unique take ever.  It conjures thoughts of Johnny Cash and others throughout its nearly four-and-a-half minute run time.  The group’s equally unique take of ‘Frosty The Snowman’ is also of note.  The semi-Dixieland style take on this song conjures thoughts of the best works of Dr. John.  The sensual take of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ is so smooth.  If this take on the standard does not set the mood for any couple, then something is wrong with those people.  The muted trumpet conjures thoughts of Miles Davis while the keyboard line gives the song a sort of vintage R&B influence.  The whole makes this take unique in its own way, too.  Again, when these songs and the others featured in the album are considered along with the songs more deeply examined here, the whole makes the record overall one of the absolute best of this year’s overly crowded field of holiday music collections.

Mick Kolassa’s recently released holiday music collection, Uncle Mick’s Christmas Album is a must have for any holiday music fan.  That is because it so starkly stands out from the rest of the field through its originals and covers.  The originals are just as unique as the covers in their arrangements.  The approach to the standards gives those songs their own identities separate from so many other holiday standard covers.  The originals are just as enjoyable for their creativity and the engagement and entertainment that they ensure.  The whole makes Uncle Mick’s Christmas Album a Christmas Album for the whole family.  It should also be noted that 100 percent of proceeds from the album’s sales will go to The Blues Foundation.  The Blues Foundation will then split the proceeds between two of its programs, the HART fund and Generation Blues.

Uncle Mick’s Christmas Album is available now through Endless Blues Records.  More information on the record is available along with all of Kolassa’s latest news at:

Website: https://mimsmick.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MickKolassaBlues

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‘Blues And Beyond’ Is An Interesting New Musical Moore Profile

Courtesy: BMG

Early this month, BMG Music and Sanctuary Records partnered to pay tribute to the late great blues guitarist Gary Moore with a new compilation of Moore’s music. The collection, Blues and Beyond was released on a two-disc standard edition and a deluxe four-disc collection that also features two discs of live material and a book written by author Harry Shapiro. For the sake of this review, the focus will be on the standard two-disc collection. That collection is an interesting new presentation. That is due in part to the collection’s featured songs. They will be discussed shortly. The songs’ sequencing is just as important to discuss in examining this recording as the collection’s featured songs. The songs’ arrangements round out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own right to its whole. All things considered, the noted elements make Blues and Beyond a presentation that is certain to interest Moore’s fans as well as blues fans in general.

BMG Music and Sanctuary Records’ new Gary Moore compilation Blues And Beyond is an interesting new collection of Moore’s music. It is a record that gives audiences what can only be described as a small snapshot of the late great guitarist’s extensive and successful career. That snapshot is presented through a 28-song collection that includes Moore’s 2001 album Back to the Blues and his 2004 album Power of the Blues in full along with a small portion of A Different Beat (1999) and almost half of his 2002 album Scars. For those who might be less familiar with Moore’s body of work, it wasn’t until about 2001 that Moore, who was also known early in his career for rock compositions with Thin Lizzy and Skid Row, really started to focus solidly on his blues chops. A Different Beat was an experimental record for Moore that really started his transition back to the blues in more focused fashion. Keeping that in mind, it makes sense why BMG and Sanctuary opted to present two of Moore’s biggest blues records for this collection. In the same vein, the inclusion of songs from A Different Beat also explains the & Beyond portion of the collection’s title. The songs taken from that record, as few as they are, give audiences an interesting look into Moore’s attempts to branch out beyond the standard 12-bar blues, and in turn makes this collection that much more interesting. When those experimental songs are joined with the collection’s more standard blues works, the whole of the collection insures listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment. Keeping this in mind, the collection’s featured songs are themselves only part of what makes this collection of interest. Its sequencing is just as important to note as its songs.

While this compilation focuses only on one specific period in Gary Moore’s career, audiences will note the compilation never once sits too long on one of the featured albums. Over the course of just the collection’s first five songs, the collection switches back and forth constantly between Back to the Blues and Power of the Blues. From there on out, that variety continues, with selections from Scars and A Different Beat thrown in to keep things fresh and to keep audiences engaged. The variety doesn’t end when the collection’s first disc ends, either. Rather, it continues solidly throughout the whole of the compilation’s second disc. The maintained engagement insured through the compilation’s variety also insures listeners’ continued entertainment. Keeping that in mind, it becomes clear why the collection’s sequencing is just as important to its presentation as its songs. Even with all of this in mind, the set’s sequencing is not the last of its most important elements. The arrangements presented throughout the course of this collection play their own key part to its presentation, too.

The arrangements that are presented in this collection’s featured songs are so important to note because of the range of influences that they exhibit. throughout the course of the set’s two discs and 28 songs, audiences are treated to songs that clearly boast influence from the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn, B.B. King, John Mayall and others. The 12-minute-plus ‘Ball and Chain’ is just one of the featured songs that conjures thoughts of Vaughn. That’s thanks not just because of the arrangement itself but also because of Moore’s own vocal delivery here. Moore actually sounds eerily like Vaughn here; so much so that it would be easy to mistake the two for one another. The collection’s opener, ‘Enough of the Blues’ conjures thoughts of King’s work with Eric Clapton on Riding With The King while ‘You Upset Me Baby’ is full on B.b. King style work. ‘Bring My Baby Back’ is more akin to works from John Mayall. ‘Evil,’ on the other hand could just as easily likened to works from Albert King, another of Moore’s contemporaries. Between these songs and the others included in Blues and Beyond, it becomes clear how important each influence and arrangement is to the collection’s whole. They show Moore’s expert ability to emulate the noted musicians while also paying tribute to them with his own works. It is a telling statement, needless to say. When this is kept in mind along with the collection’s featured songs and their sequencing, the whole of those elements makes the recording in whole one that, again, is sure to interest Moore’s fans as well as blues fans in general.

BMG and Sanctuary’s new Gary Moore compilation Blues and Beyond is a collection that is certain to interest Moore’s fans and blues aficionados alike. That is due in part to a set of songs that focuses primarily on a period in which Moore was devoted in his blues compositions. It also adds in a touch of his more experimental material for additional interest. The collection’s sequencing is just as certain to keep listeners engaged as the songs themselves. Much the same can be said of the songs’ arrangements. Each noted element is important in its own right to the whole of the collection’s presentation. All things considered, they make the collection in whole one that is as welcome an introduction to Moore’s work as a continuation for those fans already familiar with the famed guitarist. With that in mind, it is an interesting new collection that any blues fan will appreciate. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Blues and Beyond is available online now along with all of the latest Gary Moore news at:

Website: http://www.gary-moore.com

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

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Hazmat Modine’s New LP Is One Of 2016’s Top New Blues Albums

Courtesy:  Barbes Records

Courtesy: Barbes Records

Ten years ago Hazmat Modine fist introduced itself to the world.  That introduction came in the form of the band’s 2006 debut record Bahamut.  Almost as much time passed between that record and the release of the band’s second album 2011’s Cicada.  Now five years after its release and lots of frequent flyer miles later—the band did quite a bit of touring over the course of its first decade—the wait has finally ended for the release of the group’s third album Extra-Deluxe-Supreme.  The ten-song record is a solid new record from the New York-based collective and an equally solid introduction for those that might be less familiar with the band’s body of work.  It is a record that mixes elements of blues and jazz for a nearly hour-long musical experience (51 minutes to be exact) that fans of both genres will enjoy.  This applies to audiences both familiar and not so familiar with the band’s body of work.

Hazmat Modine’s new album Extra-Deluxe-Supreme has been a long time coming.  That goes without saying.  It was released early this past June roughly five years after the release of the bands sophomore studio offering Cicada.  Five years is a very long time between albums in the music industry.  So to finally have the album released had to have been a load off of the band and its fans alike.  Listening through the record’s ten total songs, it can be said that the work and the wait were both well worth it.  One of the songs that supports that statement comes late in the album’s run in the form of ‘All of My Days.’  That is due both to the song’s musical arrangement and its lyrical content.  In regards to its musical content, the song boasts a sound that can most easily be compared to that of blues legend B.B. King.  Speaking even more specifically, it sounds like something that he would have composed alongside fellow blues great Eric Clapton for the duo’s 2000 record Riding With The King.  Interestingly enough the musical component sounds like King’s work while vocalist Wade Schuman sounds more like Clapton than King.  It makes for an interesting musical arrangement to say the very least.  That is meant in a positive manner, too.  Its musical arrangement is just part of what makes this song stand out among its counterparts.  Its lyrical content is just as important to note.  Schuman sings in this song about life in general.  He notes about doing one’s best even throughout life and being the best that one can be.  It would explain the upbeat, celebratory nature of the song’s musical arrangement.  Taking that into consideration the combination of both elements makes the song al the more enjoyable.  It serves just as much to point out what makes Hazmat Modine’s new record a standout offering from the band.  It is not the record’s only standout song, though.  ‘Arcadia (Coffee, Salt and Laces)’ is another song exhibiting what makes Extra-Deluxe-Supreme stand out.

‘All of My Days’ is by itself a clear example of what makes Hazmat Modine’s new album a standout recording.  The songs musical arrangement conjures thoughts of songs composed by Eric Clapton and B.B. King for the pair’s 2000 record ‘Riding With The King.’  The song’s positive lyrical content strengthens the song even more.  The two halves come together to make the song one whole that stands out clearly from its counterparts.  It is not the only song included in this record that stands out. ‘Arcadia (Coffee, Salt and Laces)’ is another of the record’s most standout songs.  This song was recorded in studio.  But there is a certain element about it that conjures thoughts of the dimly lit blues clubs and juke joints of the genre’s early days; those little joints that were so populous along the so-called “Chitlin Circuit.”  That is evident throughout the song’s musical arrangement and production.  Schuman’s gravelly vocal delivery adds even more to that image.  Listening through the song’s lyrical content, that slow, pure 12-bar blues style arrangement becomes even more understandable.  That is because Schuman comes across here a man singing about just wanting to be back home.  As he sings in the song’s chorus, “Well I got my ticket/Ready to go/Well I got my passport out/When this storm is over/When this time is out/I’ll see my sweet Arcadia/I’ll be back home with you.”  Through each verse, Schuman’s subject keeps singing about being back home.  So there’s no room for doubt about the song’s lyrical topic.  It works expertly with the song’s musical arrangement and vice versa.  The two elements together make ‘All of My Days’ stand out even more and show why this the album in whole stands out.  It is not the last of the songs featured in this record that serves to exemplify the record’s positives.  ‘Plans’ serves to make this record stand out just as much as ‘All of My Days’ and ‘Arcadia (Coffee, Salt and Laces).’

‘All of My Days’ an ‘Arcadia (Coffee, Salt and Laces)’ are both key examples of what makes Hazmat Modine’s new record a collection of songs that was well worth the wait.  That is due to the combination of their musical arrangements and their companion lyrical content.  The two elements compliment each other expertly in each song resulting in two songs that make this record stand on its own merits and stand out among other blues records released so far this year.  As important as they are in exhibiting this they are not the album’s only key compositions.  ‘Plans’ is one more composition showing just what makes this record so well worth the wait.  In regards to its musical arrangement, it stands out because of the comparison that can be made to songs composed by the likes of Doctor John.  That is clear especially in the use of the song’s brass elements.  What is really interesting is that Schuman somehow managed to even deliver a vocal performance very much in the vein of Doctor John.  The sound of his delivery is clearly differentiated from that of Doctor John.  By the stylistic approach is so similar that it is uncanny.  That coupled with the song’s instrumental arrangement makes the song’s overall musical arrangement a solid foundation for the song.  It is not the only important aspect to the song.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to its presentation as its musical arrangement.  It sounds kind of funny, but the song’s lyrical content is actually rather bland yet somehow so catchy.  Schuman sings here about a man who…well…has plans.  He has certain things on his “to-do” list.  And it is not a shot list either.  He wants to organize his drawers at home, paint his mom’s house, settle some scores downtown, and lots more.  In other words, this is a busy man.  That urgent list of items matches up relatively well with the song’s equally upbeat tempo.  There is no sense of being overly urgent or busy.  But the music helps to illustrate just how much there is to do and the feeling of energy that the song’s subject has in examining his list of plans.  It’s just a fun, lighthearted song that will put a smile on any listener’s face and leave listeners tapping their feet in time.  It is a direct contrast to the likes of the previously noted compositions, too.  That makes it stand out even more.  In turn, it makes the record stand out even more against its counterparts in the blues counterparts.  That is even truer when it is set against the other, previously noted songs and the rest of the songs not noted here.  All things considered, Extra-Deluxe-Supreme proves in the end to be, in this critic’s view, one of 2016’s top new jazz and blues records.

Hazmat Modinee’s new album Extra-Deluxe-Supreme is one of 2016’s top new jazz and blues records.  The ten-song, fifty-one minute record shows from beginning to end that it deserves its spot on that list, too both through its musical arrangements and its lyrical content.  The musical arrangements are largely original but still show influences of the group’s more well-known counterparts at points through its counterparts.  The end result is a musical experience that any blues aficionado will enjoy.  The songs’ lyrical themes add even more to that enjoyment.  From the mundane (‘Plans’) to the more thoughtful ‘Arcadia (Coffee, Salt and Lace)’ to the truly deep (‘All of My Days’) and all points in between, this record offers just as much entertainment and insight in its lyrical content as it does in its musical arrangements.  All things considered, the album proves in the end to be a joy for any lover of the blues.  It is, again, one of 2016’s top new blues offerings.  And it is available now and can be ordered direct online via the band’s website at http://hazmatmodine.com/sound.  More information on Extra-Deluxe-Supreme is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news, tour updates and more at http://hazmatmodine.com.

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Blues Hall Of Fame Grand Opening Scheduled For Today

There’s big news for blues fans today.

The Blues Hall of Fame will officially open for the first time ever this morning at 10amET. Today’s grand opening of the band new building was preceded last night by the annual Blues Music Awards, which is now in its 36th year. The awards ceremony was held in front of a sold out crowd of 1500 people in downtown Memphis, TN at the Cook Convention Center.

Photo Credit: Charles Ragsdale II

Blues Hall of Fame Inductees. Some of those featured include: Tommy Brown, Bobby Rush, Charlie Musselwhite, Eddie Shaw, Dick Waterman, Billy Boy Arnold, John Hammond, Big Jay McNeely, Otis Clay, Bruce Iglauer and Mike Kappus. Photo Credit: Charles Ragsdale II

Twenty-four awards were handed out at last night’s ceremony. Elvin Bishop was the night’s big winner with three awards. His latest full-length release Can’t Even Do Right won for Best New Album. His Band took top honors in the Band category. And the album’s title track won for Best Song. Other winners on the night included: Joe Bonamassa (Best Instrumentalist—Guitar), Selwyn Birchwood (Best New Artist Album—Don’t Call No Ambulance) and Johnny Winter (Best Rock Blues Album—Step Back). The complete list of this year’s Blues Music Awards is noted below.

Blues Music Award winners (final)

  1. Acoustic Album:  Timeless– John Hammond
  2. Acoustic Artist: John Hammond
  3. Album: Can’t Even Do Wrong Right– Elvin Bishop
  4. B.B. King Entertainer: Bobby Rush
  5. Band: Elvin Bishop Band 
  6. Best New Artist Album: Don’t Call No Ambulance– Selwyn Birchwood                 
  7. Contemporary Blues Album: BluesAmericana – Keb’ Mo’
  8. Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Janiva Magness   
  9. Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Gary Clark Jr.
  10. Historical: Soul & Swagger: The Complete “5” Royales 1951-1967 – The “5” Royales (Rock Beat)
  11. Instrumentalist-Bass: Lisa Mann
  12. Instrumentalist-Drums: Jimi Bott
  13. Instrumentalist-Guitar: Joe Bonamassa
  14. Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Charlie Musselwhite
  15. Instrumentalist-Horn: Deanna Bogart
  16. Koko Taylor Award: Ruthie Foster
  17. Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Marcia Ball    
  18. Rock Blues Album: Step Back – Johnny Winter
  19. Song: “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right” written and performed by Elvin Bishop
  20. Soul Blues Album: Memphis Grease– John Németh
  21. Soul Blues Female Artist: Sista Monica
  22. Soul Blues Male Artist: Bobby Rush
  23. Traditional Blues Album:  For Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters)– Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson
  24. Traditional Blues Male Artist: Lurrie Bell

Blues Hall of Fame inductees at BHOF ribbon cutting ceremony: Otis Clay, Eddie Shaw, Big Jay McNeely, Bobby Rush, John Hammond, Tommy Brown, Billy Boy Arnold. Photo by Mariah Selitsch

Blues Hall of Fame inductees at BHOF ribbon cutting ceremony: Otis Clay, Eddie Shaw, Big Jay McNeely, Bobby Rush, John Hammond, Tommy Brown, Billy Boy Arnold. Photo by Mariah Selitsch

On the eve of the Blues Hall of Fame’s official opening, Little Richard, Tommy Brown, and Eric Clapton became the institution’s latest inductees. They join the likes of B.B. King, Etta James, T-Bone Walker and one hundred forty-three others that have been inducted over the past three decades plus. Fifty-one non-performers have also been added to the hall along with eighty-three of the greatest blues singles ever crafted, and forty books and magazines centered on the blues.

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The Midnight Special’s Re-Issues Will Have Audiences Singing, Dancing Well Past Midnight

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment/NBC

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment/NBC

StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment have made quite the name for themselves over the course of recent years.  Releases of classic series such as The Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family, The Dean Martin Show, China Beach, and most recently The Wonder Years have taken a company that for years was the butt of many people’s jokes to a place in the upper echelons of home entertainment companies.  For years, Time Life was known mainly for the not-so-well-known products that it pushed through extended advertisements on television.  Now it has carved out even more of a comfortable place in that upper echelon with the release of The Midnight Special on DVD.  The classic late night live concert series was released in a number of formats last month, resurrecting one more important piece of television and music history.  The show’s six-disc collector’s edition is one of the best of the sets that any fan of classic television and music can add to their own home library.  That is because it is one of the best examples of what made this series so great during its nine-year run on NBC.  It presents ninety-six total performances from bands, artists and groups across the music industry’s spectrum.  The acts that make appearances throughout the set’s six discs are the center of this box set’s enjoyment and success.  Just as important to note is the quality of the footage.  More than four decades have passed since the Midnight Special first debuted in 1972.  In that time, the footage presented in these performances has stood the test of time quite well.  And last but not least worth noting in the set’s success is its companion booklet.  The booklet serves as an episode guide for viewers.  That is the central point of its importance.  It also features personal insight from the series’ creator Burt Sugarman. Sugarman’s retrospection on the series and its importance adds one more layer of appreciation for this series.  Together with the acts that appear on each set and the quality of the footage, all three factors together make The Midnight Train another wonderful release from Time  Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment.

The Midnight Special was one of the most famed and beloved series on television during its day.  Unlike so many other series of the time, acts that came on the series in its heydey actually sang instead of lip synching.  What’s more, unlike American Bandstand, The Midnight Special focused on more than just the big pop acts of its day.  The acts that came to perform on NBC’s live overnight concert series spanned the music world’s ranks.  That is the most important aspect of this recently released classic series.  The acts that performed on The Midnight Special included the likes of John Denver performing alongside Linda Rondstadt and Aerosmith performing alongside Barry White, The Stylistics, and ELO.  It also featured acts the likes of: B.B. King, Frankie Vallie, Sammy Hagar, The O’Jays, BeeGees, and so many other greats that are still remembered today.  Even the show’s host himself, radio host Wolfman Jack was a celebrity in his own right.  Even today, he and those acts noted here are just as beloved as they were decades ago.  In an era when so many musical acts are little more than flash-in-the-pan pop acts and rarely radio worthy rock bands, musicaians and audiences alike need to be reminded of what once made music great and could again–originality and real talent.  That in mind, it makes sense that the list of performers that came on The Midnight Special is the central point of this series’ success whether in its six-disc box set or its other formats.

The list of artists, bands, and groups that graced The Midnight Special’s stage during its nine-year run on NBC is the most important aspect of this series’ recent re-issue.  More than four decades have passed since it first debuted on NBC in 1972.  That makes for plenty of reason to be concerned about the quality of the show’s footage in its transfer from tape to disc.  Luckily for audiences of all ages, painstaking efforts were taken to present the performances as they appeared in their original broadcasts. Those efforts paid off in spades as both the audio and video of each performance have been well-balanced.  Any impurities in the quality of the footage whether in the audio or video are so minute that they are unnoticable.  The end result is a product that for the show’s original audiences will generate a much-welcomed sense of nostalgia.  Both for those same audiences and the show’s much younger audiences, it also serves to show just how far music has come (both in a good and bad way) and how far recording technology has come, too.  So in the end, the quality of the footage in these performances makes Time Life and StarVista’s new re-issue of The Midnight Special even more enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

The efforts taken to transfter The Midnight Special’s master tapes to disc have definitely not been for nothing.  The show looks and sounds just as good as it did in its original run all those years ago in its rencet re-issue.  The acts that appeared on the show (and that are featured on the new six-disc compilation) are just as important to the overall presentation.  Both aspects together more than make the series worth a watch or two in any of its three re-issue formats.  The last aspect of the series’ re-issue (at least in its six-disc compilation format) that makes it a success and so enjoyable is the set’s companion booklet.  The booklet serves primarily as an episode guide, pointing out disc-by-disc and episode-by-episode each artist, band, and group that appears.  That listing even includes the songs performed by said acts.  By itself, the episode listing more than helps the enjoyment of the series’ re-issue.  The added insight from series creator Burt Sugarman adds one more layer of enjoyment to the series’ various presentations.  In terms of the six-disc box set, Sugarman recalls how so few people had faith in the show and how great it felt to prove those naysayers wrong.  That insight along with other comments from Sugarman make for even more interest and enjoyment in watching the performances culled for the show’s different re-issues.  While being the last of the noteworthy factors that make The MIdnight Special so…well…special, it is hardly the least important of the factors that make the series’ sets such a joy.  This aspect, along with the quality production values and the performances culled for the releases, makes The Midnight Special a truly special experience for viewers of all ages.

The Midnight Special is available online now.  Its eleven-disc and sixteen disc sets can be ordered online direct from Time Life’s online store at http://timelife.com/products/the-midnight-special-collector-s-edition.  The six-disc collector’s edition can be ordered via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Special-6DVD-Amaray/dp/B00L9OPJ5C/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1414009549&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Midnight+Special.  More information on this and other releases from Time Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.timelife.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS

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