Live In Hyde Park Is A Must Have For Every ELO Fan

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Next month, ELO, now known as Jeff Lyne’s ELO will release its fourteenth full-length studio recording. The album, Alone in the Universe, will be released on Friday, November 13th via Columbia Records. That is just under a month away at the time of this review’s posting. The announcement of the album’s impending release was made just last month, a day before the release of the group’s new live recording Live in Hyde Park. Released on September 11th, Live in Hyde Park is a good addition to any ELO fan’s personal music library. The main reason that it proves to be such a worthwhile addition to fans’ collections is its set list. It should be noted right up front that the recording’s U.S. presentation allegedly is lacking the group’s performance of ‘Roll Over Beethoven,’ which was the band’s cover of Chuck Berry’s classic hit. Even if it is indeed lacking that one encore performance, the lack of that performance, at least in this critic’s own view, does not take away anything from the positive impact of the show’s overall set list. That will be discussed shortly. Another positive to the recording is of course Lynne’s stage presence and that of his fellow musicians. That presence makes for just as much enjoyment as the show’s set list and gives fans even more reason to add this recording to their personal ELO collections and music libraries in whole. Last but hardly least worth noting of the recording is its bonus material. The bonus interview with Lynne is quite insightful in its own right while the “bio” “Mr. Blue Sky: The Story Of Jeff Lynne and ELO adds even more insight into the importance of this legendary act. The two bonuses come together to round out the recording’s overall viewing experience and show once and for all why fans will both enjoy and appreciate once they add it to their own personal ELO collections and music libraries in whole.

Live at Hyde Park, the new live recording from Jeff Lynne’s ELO is a good addition to any ELO fan’s personal music library and ELO collection. It proves first and foremost through its set list. While not a completely career-spanning performance for Lynne and company, the sixteen song set list touches on a rather healthy sampling of the band’s body of work even going all the way back to the band’s 1971 debut record The Electric Light Orchestra. Its 1977 album Out Of The Blue appears to be the most well-represented of the albums represented in this concert. Of the album’s sixteen songs, no fewer than three are taken from that album while The Electric Light Orchestra, On The Third Day, Eldorado, and Face The Music are each represented by one song. A New World Record is represented twice over, while Discovery, the Xanadu soundtrack, and Secret Messages each boast a single track. That still leaves four songs that audiences both familiar with ELO’s body of work and those not so familiar work to find for themselves. In finding themselves, audiences will agree that once again, while the sentiment that the set list featured in this concert recording, while not necessarily career-spanning, is still a solid representation of ELO’s body of work. On another note, there are those that have complained about the U.S. presentation of Live at Hyde Park not including the encore performance of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ at he very end of the recording. Given, that track is not there. There is no denying this. But considering that it is just one song, it still takes away very little if anything from the overall viewing experience of this recording. To that extent, the set list presented in Live in Hyde Park proves in the end to still be just as important to the recording’s viewing experience as any of the recording’s key talking points.

The set list featured in this recording is within itself plenty of reason for ELO fans to add it to their personal collections and music libraries in whole. That is even with the alleged omission of one song in the recording’s U.S. release. Lynne’s stage presence and that of his fellow musicians is just as important as the songs themselves. It goes without saying that the group’s stage presence makes for its own share of enjoyment. Lynne exudes a certain confidence for lack of better wording as he makes his way from one song to the next in the show’s set. It proves that a performer doesn’t necessarily have to run around stage and do all kinds of antics in order to be entertaining. All a performer needs is that confidence and the love of being on stage, entertaining the masses in order to be entertaining. That is what makes his stage presence so solid throughout the show. He commands the stage just by being there and doing so little other than deliver the songs. Lynne’s fellow musicians–many of whom are members of the BBC Orchestra, as Lynne directly notes–show just as much confidence throughout the concert. They also show just how much they enjoy performing with Lynne and his band. It shows through the energy and concentration put into each song’s performance and through their facial gestures. Audiences can see smiles on the faces of the BBC Orchestra members’ faces throughout, showing just how much they enjoyed being a part of the show. The enjoyment leads back to the energy put into each performance from start to finish. In turn it makes the overall stage presence of the group in whole–including Lynne and his band–that much more powerful and important to the whole of Live in Hyde Park. Together with the show’s set list and its sequencing, both elements together go a long way toward making this recording such an enjoyable experience for any long-time ELO fan. For all of their importance to the recording’s overall viewing experience they are not all that make the recording so enjoyable. The bonus interview with Jeff Lynne and the “bio” Mr. Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO round out the recording. The two bonuses together not only paint a rich picture of Jeff Lynne and his importance to the music industry, but on the legacy that he has created throughout his professional career.

The performance that lies at the center of Live in Hyde Park is in itself the most important element of the recording. It is after all the central focus point of the recording. However, the bonus material that is included with the recording proves just as important to the whole of the recording as the concert. That is because the bonus material paints such a rich, vivid picture of who Jeff Lynne is and why he is today one of the most important figures in the music industry. The one-on-one interview with Lynne paints its own picture, showing perhaps why Lynne is such a stickler for detail in terms of composing songs. He notes in his interview that despite being essentially a manual laborer, his father had a deep love and respect for classical music. And classical music requires a deep love for and attention to the music. Any lover of classical music will agree with that. Perhaps growing up in a household filled with such beautiful music led to his own attention to detail in composing his songs. He perhaps gained the same love for his music and attention to detail in composing his songs through his musical upbringing, in other words. Lynne also shares a funny anecdote about ELO opening for Deep Purple in the band’s first major tour and his surprise at how well it went down considering the stark contrast of sounds between the two acts. That anecdote will have viewers laughing just as Lynne himself. It’s just another example of what makes his interview so enjoyable for audiences, regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Lynne’s body of work and his contributions to the music industry. Speaking of those contributions to the music world, the bonus “bio/documentary” Mr. Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO offers even more insight into the importance of his contributions to the music industry.

Mr. Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO takes the foundation established in Lynne’s bonus one-on-one interview and builds even more on it. It does so by going into even more depth about his own achievements and contributions over the course of his professional career. It isn’t just some short, ten-minute presentation unlike so many other career retrospectives out there that call themselves bonuses on other acts’ recordings. Rather, it is a deep, extensive presentation that will keep viewers just as engaged as the presentation’s central concert recording. Viewers will learn that Lynne started his professional musical career early on in life and that his mom couldn’t even believe that he was making money as a musician. It’s another great light-hearted moment for audiences and fans alike. He also echoes his father’s love of classical music as an influence behind his love of music and his own method in composing his music. There are insights from the likes of Tom Petty, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and even the widows of George Harrison and Roy Orbison that paint such a deeply vivid picture of a musical genius. Even the most well-versed ELO fan might be surprised to learn through this documentary that Lynne was actually at least partially responsible for Tom Petty’s hit song ‘Free Falling,’ some of George Harrison’s most beloved compositions, and even one of The Beatles’ records post John Lennon’s passing. There is also an in-depth history presented by Petty, Lynne, and both Roy Orbison and George Harrison’s widows about The Traveling Wilburys included as part of the documentary. For those that might not know, Lynne was a member of The Traveling Wilburys alongside Orbison, Petty, Harrison, and Bob Dylan. It was a supergroup before supergroups became a thing. That part of Lynne’s story alone makes the “bio” well worth the watch. And it is hardly all that makes the documentary such an important presentation. There is so much more that long-time fans and audiences in general will appreciate throughout the program. Together with Lynne’s sit-down interview, Live in Hyde Park’s main feature concert, and Lynne’s performance alongside his fellow musician throughout the show, Live at Hyde Park in whole proves to be a recording that every ELO fan should have in their own home DVD library. Period.

Live In Hyde Park is a recording that every ELO fan should have in his or her own home DVD library. Whether for its set list, the performance of Lynne and his fellow musicians throughout the concert, or for the recording’s bonus material, there is so much to enjoy about this recording. It presents a band and a performer that remain today among the most influential and important names in the music industry. Each noted element is important to the whole of the presentation in its own right. Collectively, they make Live in Hyde Park a must have for any ELO fan and potentially one more of this year’s best new live DVDs and Blu-rays. It is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:




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Audiences Of All Musical Tastes Will Enjoy Enjoy Eagle Rock Entertainment’s New Dylan Documentary

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new music documentary Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued is an interesting new presentation. Regardless of whether audiences are fans of Bob Dylan and his body of work or fans of the artists recruited to resurrect Dylan’s “long lost” there is plenty for audiences of all ages and tastes to like throughout the program beginning fittingly with its virtual music history lesson. The program’s very presentation style is another element of the documentary that audiences will appreciate. Despite essentially being a standard “making of” feature, it doesn’t come across like so many other guerilla style making of peices thrown together by so many other acts just to sell records. And then of course there is the bonus material. In the case of this Blu-ray, the bonus material lives up to its name as it brings the whole presentation full circle. It doesn’t present the finished product of each song rehearsed in the main feature. But it does give audiences a look at the finished product of half of the noted songs. And that’s only the beginning of what makes the bonus material a true bonus. That will be discussed later. Taking into consideration everything noted here, Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued proves itself a music documentary well worth the watch by audiences of any musical taste.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new music documentary Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued is an interesting work that audiences of any musical taste should see. It should be noted right off the top that it is not a piece that audiences of any age should see. that is because there is some language older audiences might find questionable for some younger viewers. There is also one scene from some vintage 1960s film that shows a topless woman dancing with a group of other people. None of this seems to be noted anywhere on the documentariy’s casing. So it would be irresponsible if this critic didn’t note these issues right off the bat. Having gotten that out of the way, this program is still one that older audiences of any musical taste will want to see. The central reason for that is that it is within itself a virtual music history lesson. The lesson is centered on a group of previously “undiscovered” writings from none other than legendary singer/songwriter Bob Dylan. Audiences get a glimpse into where the writings came from, how they originally came into being so many decades ago and even their original intent. Some of this information is provided by Dylan himself even though the only time that Dylan actually appears on camera is in vintage footage of Dylan with his band mates collected for the documentary. Audiences will be surprised to learn that many of the writings if not all of them were never even intended for mass consumtion by fans. Audiences will be just as interested to learn why Dylan and company opted to record the original songs literally in the basement of a house instead of the sterility of a studio as they watch. That little factoid is in itself quite enlightening. there is even more information thrown out throughout the program that audiences will find interesting. So that will be left to viewers to discover for themselves. That information coupled with the information noted here shows clearly to be a history lesson that intended or not serves as one of the most important elements of Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued in its enjoyment. It is only part of the program that makes it a joy for fans. The documentary’s overall shooting and presentation style make for their own enjoyment in this case, too.

The overall shooting style and manner of presentation in Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued make for just as much reason for audiences to check out the program as its virtual music history lesson. “Making of documentaries” are all too commonplace in today’s music industry. The problem with all of the “documentaries” is that few prove to be memorable in any form or fashion. More often than not they are throwaway extras used to convince audiences to purchase already overpriced albums that are themselves forgettable. They are typically shot in guerilla, home-video style and presented as such, too. Thankfully none of this applies to Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued. What audiences get in this program is a piece that fully lives up to the title of music documentary. It is an expertly shot and edited program that ties together music’s past and present and will in turn keep audiences engaged from beginning to end. There are no fast moving pans or tilts from the camera crew. And the music being rehearsed makes the presentation emotionally moving and powerful both as the recruited artists–who are themselves some of the music world’s biggest names today–work together and by themselves. There are no jump cuts. And while some special effects are used, they are used sparingly throughout, making the presentation all the more worth the watch.

Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued more than lives up to the title of music documentary. It is the total antithesis of the largely forgettable throwaway pieces out there that masquerade as making of documentaries. This includes the standalone pieces and the ones that are thrown in with albums that are themselves largely forgettable. It stands out from those presentations thanks in large part to its professional production values and its virtual music history lesson. Both elements play their own important part in the success and enjoyment of Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued. As important as each element proves in the long run, there is one more element to note that brings the presentation full circle. That element is the documentary’s collective bonus material. The bonus material in this case is a presentation of some of the songs featured in the main feature in their entirety. While not all twelve of the featured songs are included as bonus material. No fewer than half of the songs are featured, though. Having gone through the rehersals and creative process presented in the program’s main feature, the half dozen songs featured as bonus material are essentially a reward for audiences that watched the creative process that led to the songs. Again, while not all twelve songs presented in the main feature are included with the bonus material, the half dozen that are featured bring the presentation in whole full circle.

The full song “performances” featured in the bonus features of Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued are themselves bonus for audiences. They are bonuses in large part because they finally let audiences hear at least some of the presented songs in their identity. That isn’t the only reason that they are bonuses, though. They are bonuses also because of the fact that each song features one of the recruited artists leading the given songs in his or her own style. Because each of the recruited artists gets to lead at least one song included in the bonus features, not one of the noted songs sounds like the other. Each comopsition has a sound and style completely separate from the others. It shows each artist’s own musical roots and influences thus deepening the program in whole even more. It is within itself a bonus of the bonus material and one more reason that audiences will want to watch Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued.

Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued is one of the more interesting music documentaries that has been released so far this year. For that matter, it is one of the only presentations released so far this year that rightfully deserves to be called a documentary. That is thanks in large part to its virtual music history lesson. Whether or not the history lesson was intended, it is there. The program’s production values set it apart from all of thoe throwaway pieces that try to pretend to be documentaries, too. And the bonus material rewards audiences that stayed and watched Bob Dylan’s “long lost” slowly come to life in more than one way. All three elements together show why audiences of all musical tastes, if not ages, will want to watch this documentary. Together, they show that while Eagle Rock is known largely as the leader in live recordings, it holds its own in the world of music documentaries, too. Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued will be available in stores and online Tuesday, May 26th. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:




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The Yardbirds Announce Makeup Dates, Welcome New Member

Courtesy:  Kayos Productions

Courtesy: Kayos Productions

The Yardbirds will fly again this fall!

Yardbirds founding member and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jim McCarty announced today that the band will hit the road this fall and make up a string of North American dates that had to be postponed earlier this year. Along with those make-up dates, the band—with McCarty , bassist Kenny Aaronson (Bob Dylan, Billy Idol, Brian Setzer, Mick Taylor), guitarist/singer John Idan, and Myke Scavone (Ram & The Doughboys) on blues harp, vocals, and percussion—will also play additional dates later this fall. Those dates have not yet been confirmed. Though, they will confirmed at a later date. It has also been announced that fellow founding member Chris Dreja will be unable to make the upcoming dates but will be with the band in mind and spirit. Longtime David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick will join the band on its upcoming tour as well.

The band’s currently confirmed tour dates are listed below.

Tour Dates:


30                                           Infinity Hall                      Norfolk CT

31                                           Musicfest Café                  Bethlehem PA



01                                           Newton Theatre                  Newton NJ

02                                           BB King’s                             NYC

06                                           Harrah’s Casino                 Phoenix AZ

07                                           Harrah’s Casino                 Lake Tahoe NV

10                                           Harrah’s Casino                 Loughlin NV


The Yardbirds’ fans can keep up with all of the latest updates to the band’s tour schedule and get all of the latest news from the band online at:




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StarVista, Time Life Announce Release Date, Specs For The Wonder Years Season 2

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Kevin, Paul, Winnie and the rest of the characters from ABC’s beloved classic drama The Wonder Years are coming back.

StarVista Entertainment announced Monday that it will release the complete second season of The Wonder Years on DVD on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015. The series’ second season consists of seventeen half-hour episodes spread across four discs. Also included in the upcoming second season set are a number of bonuses for fans. There are also more than four dozen classic songs from artists such as: Bob Dylan, Carol King, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Cream, Bing Crosby, Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel, Traffic, Diana Ross and the Supremes, James Taylor, Nat King Cole, The Miracles, Judy Collins, Donovan, and a number of others. The full list of songs and artists featured in season Two is noted below.

“Heart of Darkness”

  • You Make Me Feel So Young
  • Sunshine of Your Love-Cream

“Our Miss White”

  • Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)-The Temptations
  • The Times They Are A-Changin’-Bob Dylan


  • Jingle Bell Rock-Instrumental
  • White Christmas-Bing Crosby
  • River-Joni Mitchell
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas-Instrumental

“Steady as She Goes”

  • Yellow Bird-On-Screen Character Performance
  • Somewhere-On-Screen Character Performance
  • Ooo Baby Baby-The Miracles
  • The Thrill Is Gone-B.B. King
  • Will You Love Me Tomorrow-Carole King

“Just between Me and You and Kirk and Paul and Carla and Becky”

  • I Am a Rock-Simon & Garfunkel
  • Someday We’ll Be Together-Diana Ross and the Supremes
  • Some Enchanted Evening-On-Screen Character Performance

“Pottery Will Get You Nowhere”

  • It’s Not Unusual
  • When I Fall in Love-Nat King Cole

“Hiroshima, Mon Frère”

  • Wild Thing-The Troggs
  • Brother, Brother-Carole King


  • You’ve Got a Friend-James Taylor
  • Sweet Georgia Brown-Brother Bones

“Walk Out”

  • I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man-Muddy Waters
  • The Tracks of My Tears-The Miracles
  • I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die-Rag-Country Joe and the Fish
  • Give Peace A Chance-On-Screen Character Performance


  • My Girl-The Temptations
  • Theme from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


  • Born under a Bad Sign-Cream
  • Respect-Aretha Franklin

“Birthday Boy”

  • Happy, Happy Birthday Baby-The Tune Weavers
  • Bookends-Simon & Garfunkel
  • Yummy, Yummy, Yummy-On-Screen Character Performance
  • Hava Nagila-Karmon Israeli Singers


  • Subterranean Homesick Blues-Bob Dylan
  • In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida-Iron Butterfly
  • You Can All Join In-Traffic
  • Catch the Wind-Donovan

“Square Dance”

  • Star Flicker-Houston Ramblers
  • Turkey In The Straw-Ralph Pierce
  • Comin’ round the Mountain-The Sundowners Band

“Whose Woods Are These?”

  • Happy Days Are Here Again-The Banjo Barons
  • In My Life-Judy Collins

“How I’m Spending My Summer Vacation”

  • The Theme from “A Summer Place”-Percy Faith and His Orchestra
  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes-The Platters
  • Never on Sunday-The Chordettes
  • I Only Have Eyes for You-The Flamingos
  • La Vie En Rose-Edith Piaf
  • Scarborough Fair/Canticle-Simon & Garfunkel

The second season of The Wonder Years sees Kevin, his friends, and his family all grow together as throughout all of the turmoil of the age. Kevin’s personal growth comes as he starts standing up to his older brother Wayne (Jason Hervey) and as he takes part in a class walkout to protest the Vietnam War. He, Paul (Josh Saviano), and Winnie (Danica McKellar) also fight to stop developers from plowing over Harper Woods, where the trio shared many of their favorite childhood memories.

The bonus materials included on the upcoming Season 2 box set are noted below.


  • School Days: Roundtable with Danica McKellar, Fred Savage and Josh Saviano
  • Featurette: The Times They Are A-Changin’: The Era
  • Interviews with: Dan Lauria (Jack Arnold), Alley Mills (Norma Arnold), Daniel Stern (Narrator)

The Wonder Years: Season Two will retail for MSRP of $39.95. More information on the box set’s upcoming release and other titles from Star Vista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment is available online at:




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Loner’s Society Impresses On Autumn + Colour Debut

Courtesy: Autumn + Colour

Courtesy: Autumn + Colour

The Charleston, South Carolina based indie band Loner’s Society is set to release its new live EP King City Sessions next month. The five-track recording is a good introduction for those that might be less familiar with the band and just as enjoyable for those that are more familiar with its works. What’s most interesting about the band’s new release is the sound of the songs included in the recording. The songs are interesting in their own right because of their musical and emotional depth. But they don’t exactly sound like the description of the band’s sound on its official Facebook page. According to the band’s official Facebook page, the band is “comparable to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers if The Heartbreakers had been comprised from members of: Pearl Jam, Rancid, and The Temptations.” That wording comes verbatim from the band’s Facebook page. And it’s quite a mix of influences. But as listeners will notice right from the recording’s outset, its sound is more comparable to Bob Dylan and certain classic Country Western acts than any of the acts noted on the band’s Facebook page. Where Loner’s Society does finally start to bear more of the Pearl Jam meets Rancid sound is on the recording’s fourth song, ‘Autum Breeze.’ These two songs (and the recording’s remaining trio of live tracks) make King City Sessions quite the live recording even as short as it is.

Loner’s Society opens its upcoming live EP with the song ‘LaGrange.’ This song is an interesting introduction because of the throwback vibe that it conjures up among listeners. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Megrue openly states in the song in almost Lou Reed style, “And we recorded a record/Then we loaded the van/The last thing the world needed was another punk rock band/So I spent the next five years just barely getting’ by/Cause as time goes by it’s certain/That certain things’ll change/And you can spend your whole life working/Trying to stay the same/But plan on doin’ doubles till you die/At that diner in LaGrange. The line about the last thing the world needing was another punk rock band is very telling. It goes back to the previously noted difference in the sound of the songs included on this recording versus the band’s own description of its sound. This song sounds anything like a punk rock band. It’s more of a Country Western style piece interestingly enough. Even that first verse’s remaining lines line up more with old school Country Western than punk, Pearl Jam, and especially The Temptations. For all of its deep introspection, there is one funny moment in this song in which Megrue sings about things he’s seen in his life. He sings “I’ve seen marriages, divorces, babies, and divorces.” That must be one heck of a lot of divorces. Whether or not it was meant to be joking, it’s such a subtle joke that one can’t help but laugh a little bit hearing the emphasis on divorces that have been seen. That subtlety set alongside the song’s more heartfelt introspective musical and lyrical elements make it an excellent introduction for the band in every sense of the word.

‘LaGrange’ is a solid opener for the band’s new upcoming live recording.  It’s just one of the recording’s most interesting of points.  The recording’s penultimate performance of ‘Autumn Breeze’ is another of those high points.  It is more along the lines of the band’s described sound.  It starts off gently enough, but eventually picks up and bears more of an indie-folk/rock sound.  Listeners can feel such emotion as Megrue sings, “I can feel that Autumn breeze/Blowing in from Tennessee/It soaks my nights in whiskey dreams/Old cruel winds just speak to me.”  There’s a certain pain in Megue’s voice as he sings this verse that tugs at the heart.  The song takes a more driving feel from there.  Even with that more up-tempo feel, the song doesn’t lose the pained emotional state established early on in its near five-minute run time.  It all makes for what is easily one of the highest of this live EP’s performances.

‘Autumn Breeze’ and ‘LaGrange’ are both great additions to King City Sessions.  Regardless of whether or not audiences are familiar with these songs or the others included in this new EP, every listener will agree that they and the EP’s other trio of songs make this recording a welcome new release from the band.  If the five songs contained on this EP aren’t enough for some, then fans need not worry as they’ll get their chance to hear the band live in person, too.  Loner’s Society is currently scheduled to perform at the Deep South Bar in Raleigh, North Carolina this Saturday, January 18th.  The performance is an 18+ show.  Tickets are $5.  They can be  purchased online at  The show is currently scheduled to begin at 6pm.  Fans of Loner’s Society can find out about all of the band’s tour updates, news and more online at, and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Eagle Rock Keeps Soaring With Santana’s Latest Live Release

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Montreux Sounds

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Montreux Sounds

Thank goodness for Carlos Santana.  And Thank goodness for Eagle Rock Entertainment.  This has been stated before already with the 2012 release of Carlos Santana: Greatest Hits Live at Montreux 2011.  Now Eagle Rock has finished what it started with the release of Santana’s performance that same year with fellow guitar legend John McLaughlin (The Mahavishnu Orchestra).  It has already been noted of seeing Carlos Santana and company live before that to see these musicians perform live is to not just see a concert.  Seeing Carlos Santana and his band mates live is to truly take part in a musical experience.  That applies in this brand new release just as much as in Eagle Rock’s previous live Santana Blu-ray.  The musical experience is just one portion of what makes Santana & McLaughlin: Live at Montreux 2011 such a joy for music aficionados.  Tied directly into the experience is the show’s set list.  Just as with Santana’s previous live release via Eagle Rock, this show’s set list feels more like one giant jam session than a specifically structured set list.  This is far better than anyone could realize.  And lastly, audiences with HDTVs will appreciate the clarity of the recording’s sound and picture.  Those with surround sound home theater systems will especially appreciate that clarity.  Together with the set list and the general performance, it is one more factor that reminds audiences why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leader of the pack in live recordings.

Taking in a performance of Carlos Santana and his band mates is more than simply taking in a performance from the highly talented musicians.  Taking in a performance of these individuals is taking in a full musical experience.  This is just as true in Santana & McLaughlin: Invitation to Illumination as it was on Carlos Santana: Greatest Hits Live at Montreux 2011.  It is incredible to see Santana and his band mates sharing the stage throughout the two-hour plus performance.  Unlike so many other bands out there today, Santana steps back on multiple occasions, allowing his band mates to get their fair share of time in the limelight.  Simply put, he not only talks the talk, but walks the walk, too.  Such humility, willingness to share the spotlight, and talent shows why Santana is still one of the greatest guitarists in modern music history.  Audiences that have not yet gotten to see Eagle Rock’s previous performance from Santana and company will be in awe at the talent of both drummers Dennis Chambers and Santana’s own wife, Cyndi Blackman Santana.  Blackman Santana’s skill with the sticks is unparalleled.  Watching her perform whether with the rest of the band or by herself on her drum solo is like watching controlled chaos.  By contrast, Chambers’ own performance behind his kit is the picture of talent and composure.  Chambers’ body language is one of someone that is entirely relaxed.  Yet his playing would seem otherwise.  It’s an amazing juxtaposition.  The band overall presents such talent throughout its performance. 

The band’s performance throughout the two-hour plus concert is the central point of the recording.  Also to be taken into consideration in the overall presentation is the show’s set list.  The set list for this concert was comprised largely of songs from the classic 1973 album, Love Devotion Surrender.  However, fans will also take note early on of the medley of songs including covers of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ and saxophonist John Coletrane’s ‘Peace on Earth’.  It even contains a cover of Albert Ayler’s ‘Our Prayer.’  The cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was the highest of highlights throughout the medley of tunes.  From the guitar work of both Santana and McLaughlin to David K. Matthews’ keyboards to every part in between, it is a cover that would make both Jimmy Page and Robert Plant proud if they see this performance.  The same can be said of the late John Bonham’s son, Jason, too.  While it’s a cover, one can’t help but think to one’s own self, which version is really better?  Zeppelin’s version or this updated take on the classic song?  That’s a tough call.  But what can be said is that it is just as good as the original, if not better.  It is an amazing point in the overall performance.  Audiences will of course each find their own moment that they will call their favorite.  This is just one of so many from which audiences will be able to choose.  And it’s just one of so many that make Invitation to Illumination such a joy for audiences of all ages.

The set list and the general performance work together with this new release to make it one of the year’s best live recordings.  There is one more factor that audiences should consider in examining what makes it one more expert release from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  That factor is the presentation’s audio and video mix.  The audio and video mix of this presentation is right on par with each live recording already released so far by Eagle Rock Entertainment this year.  Those with home theater surround sound systems and the ability to set the audio on their HDTVs to a music setting will especially appreciate this.  Those audiences will be entirely enveloped by the concert and see just why taking in a performance by Carlos Santana and his band mates is in fact not just taking in a performance, but being part of a true musical experience.  Santana & McLaughlin: Invitation to Illumination Live at Montreux 2011 is available now in stores and online.  Fans can keep up with the latest news and more from Carlos Santana online at and

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American Playground Another Enjoyable Compilation From Putumayo Kids

Courtesy:  Putumayo World Music

Courtesy: Putumayo World Music

Putumayo Kids has taken young listeners all around the world all from the safety of their own homes and classrooms thanks to its series of compilations featuring music from different regions of America and Europe.  With the release of its latest compilation, American Playground, Putomayo continues that well-established tradition this time by examining a number of children’s favorites set to bluegrass, folk, and gospel settings. 

The ten track compilation includes a solid mix of folk, bluegrass and blues pieces along with a trio of adaptations of hits from Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and jazz composer Irving Berlin.  The cover of Berlin’s ‘Blue Skies’ stands out as it’s the only jazz piece on the compilation.  But it is still an impressive rendition of the jazz classic nonetheless.  The pairing of Aaron Watson and Elizabeth McQueen for the song is especially interesting considering that both singers are more versed in country music than jazz.  Had listeners not known this, they would never have known that the pair had no background in jazz.  This is in itself a tribute to the choice of artists and songs picked for the compilation’s sequencing.  Watson and McQueen’s take on Berlin’s ‘Blue Skies’ is a solid interpretation of the jazz classic.  It is impressive enough that one wonders if Putumayo will eventually release a compilation of jazz standards for both kids and their parents.  There is rumor that another album is due out before 2013 is over.  So it would be interesting to see if that in fact becomes the alleged new compilation.

The cover of Berlin’s ‘Blue Skies’ is a nice touch to this compilation that is otherwise centered largely on roots music.  Of course the roots music compiled for this release is enjoyable in its own right, too.  The cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’ is a fitting and touching song.  It shows a side of Dylan that many casual listeners might not otherwise have known about.  Most people know Dylan for his protest songs.  This song is the exact antithesis of those works.  Singer/songwriter Randy Kaplan makes the song even more interesting with his rendition of the song both with this musicianship and his voice.  He actually sounds very similar to a young Bob Dylan with this record.  Its slight gravelly sound and gentility perfectly complements what sounds like a mandolin used in the place of a guitar.  He gives the song a whole new meaning with his rendition that is still powerful in its own way.  It is one more enjoyable piece that parents and children alike will enjoy.

The cover of Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’ is another high point to this instantly enjoyable record.  It’s not the last, either.  The compilation closes out fittingly with a cover of Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land.’  After taking listeners on a musical journey across the country on the previous songs, this song is a good bookend companion to the compilation’s opening number, ‘She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain.’  Listeners are taken from up high in the mountains in the compilation’s opener, down to the plains, looking up at the blue skies and across the heartland to the final notes of Guthrie’s classic song.  Younger listeners won’t catch it.  But older listeners might catch that one specific line was removed from this rendition of the song.  Why that was done is anyone’s guess.  Even with one specific portion of the song omitted in this rendition—intentionally or not—it doesn’t lose any of its enjoyment.  Along with the remaining material on this compilation, it serves as just one more impressive addition to what is an overall enjoyable compilation for listeners of all ages.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct from the Putumayo online store at

Parents and kids can keep up with all of the latest releases from Putumayo and Putumayo Kids online at,, and

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