Mark Morton’s Solo Debut LP Will Leave Listeners Anything But Numb

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

It’s hard to do the same thing over and over for years at a time.  Everybody knows that.  It’s why people change jobs.  It is also why members of musical acts across the musical universe decide at one point or another to branch out and try their hands at something new (I.E. solo albums). Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton joined those ranks in March with his debut solo album Anasthetic.  The 10-song, 42 minute record shows Morton as not just a metal guitarist, but rather a multi-talented musician who has the capability to succeed in any musical genre.  This is proven in part late in the album’s run in the form of ‘Reveal.’  It will be addressed shortly.  The surprisingly subdued ‘Axis,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is another way in which Morton’s wide range of talent is exhibited in this record.  ‘Save Defiance,’ the album’s mid-point is yet another way in which Morton’s full talents are put on display and will also be addressed later.  Each song noted here is important in its own way in proving Mark Morton is more than just another metal shredder.  When they are examined along with the rest of the record’s entries, the whole of the album creates a new and deserved respect for Morton and his abilities.

Mark Morton’s debut self-titled album Anasthetic is a strong first solo outing for the Lamb of God guitarist.  That is because it allowed Morton to fully put on display, his talents as a guitarist.  It allowed him to show he is talented at doing more than just churning out heavy, shredding riffs.  Rather, it shows he can handle his own in almost any genre of music.  ‘Reveal,’ which comes late in the album’s run is just one of the album’s entries that supports those statements.  The song, recorded with singer/songwriter Naeemah Maddox, is the polar opposite of anything that Morton has ever done as a member of LoG.  The work presented by Morton here, is gentle and bluesy.  It expertly compliments the Philadelphia-born vocalist’s delivery and the work of their fellow musicians.  His bluesy guitar solo lends itself so easily to comparisons to the best work of Derek Trucks and Carlos Santana.  It is a true, full departure from everything that fans of Morton’s work have ever known, and it is so in the best way possible.

The song’s musical arrangement is just one part of what makes it stand out.  Its positive lyrical content couples with its musical to make the song in whole even more interesting.  Maddox sings in the song’s lead verse, “Could be all for sale/Or could be smoke and mirrors/The end is growing near/Or could be smoke and mirrors/Say who you are/Go set your truth/Don’t be the rude in another’s fair/See how you feel/And the nreveal/You may not be who you are/Right at this moment in time.”  She continues in the song’s second verse, “Go and dig a well/And hide as you abide/See, I’m fragile as a shell/And echo like a bell.”  She adds in the song’s third and final verse, “Willing, you have your own mind/You can think for yourself.”  She is saying here that things aren’t always just black and white.  There are shades of grey, so be you and be the best you can be.  That is at least this critic’s own town on this.  It is just one interpretation.  Hopefully it is somewhere close to being right as it certainly seems to send a rather positive message to listeners.  That, taken into consideration with the song’s musical arrangement, makes the song just one of Anasthetic’s most notable tracks and just one of the most notable examples of Morton’s wide range of talent.  ‘Axis,’ which comes much earlier in the album’s run, is another key example of Morton’s abilities and, in turn, most notable additions.

‘Axis’ is another key example of Morton’s talents and by connection another of this record’s most notable entries.  Crafted with vocalist Mark Lanegan (ex-Screaming Trees), the song’s subdued arrangement lends itself to comparisons to works from the likes of Tom Waitts and Bruce Springsteen.  That is most evident in Lanegan’s vocals and Morton’s guitar work.  Again, this is a stark departure for Morton from the intensity of the work that he has done over the years with Lamb of God.  It shows he can do so much more than jus play fast and loud, but rather also slower and with great dynamic control.  It makes for that much more respect for Morton and his abilities.  The song’s musical arrangement does a lot to make this work stand out, and is just one part of what makes it stand out.  The song’s lyrical content adds its own share of interest to the song’s whole.

Lanegan sings seemingly in this song, about someone who has been through quite a bit of adversity in life and is struggling to get through it.  What’s interesting here is that for all the adversity, the song doesn’t come across as some sort of emo type song.  Rather, it harkens back to the great blues songs of days long ago through its lyrical delivery.  He sings in the song’s lead verse, “I came down with a fever/The catacombs, they were filled/Lucifer within my larynx/Clothing a sarcophagus/Baby, set my head on fire/Every man is born to die/The Captain called me out on a carpet, boys/You know I got a tear in my eye/”  he continues in the song’s second verse, “I have been lost and wandering/A wanderer I remain/Met Judas in West Texas/Tried to take my name/Now I am lost and wandering/And wandering, I am blind/Will the moon come off its axis/Before I lose my mind/I came down with a sickness/Pouring down just like rain/Red, red sun in the evening/Red, red heart full of pain.”  He adds a touch more in the song’s third and final verse, but the song in whole is pretty clear.  Again, this is someone who has gone through so much.  It is just a classic, retro style country blues type work even in its lyrical presentation.  That content, coupled with the song’s musical arrangement, makes it a piece that is sure to appeal to plenty of listeners.  It will appeal so widely because of that aspect and because, again, it shows that Morton is not just a one-trick pony.  It shows he can do quite a bit more than just metal, and can do so quite well at that.  It still is not the last of the songs featured in this record that serves to exhibit that talent and interest.  ‘Save Defiance,’ the record’s mid-point, is one more example of Morton’s broad range of talent.

‘Save Defiance’ was recorded with Alter Bridge front man Myles Kennedy.  Fittingly, this song’s arrangement presents Morton as an able mainstream hard rock driver just as much as a metal guitarist.  What is truly interesting here is that the grouping of Morton, Kennedy and the rest of the song’s featured musicians immediately leads to comparisons to some of Alter Bridge’s best works.  Again, this is a good thing because it shows how much more Morton can do than just shred really fast and hard.  It shows here that he can create some really heavy, melodic riffs, too.  Morton’s ability to so easily liken himself to Mark Tremonti shows yet again just why he is such an important figure not just in the rock community, but in the music community in whole.  As much as Morton’s abilities do for himself and for the song, they are just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content plays its own important part to the whole of the song.

Kennedy sings in the song’s lead verse, “Into the last refrain/As your empire falls/World in decay/Our backs against the wall/Tell me, now/Is it too late/Tell me, now/Who’ll pay the cost/For all the times you’ve disengaged/Tomorrow could be lost/Stop what you started/Open your eyes/The truth is the hardest thing to deny.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Save defiance/And hope you’ve got one last shot/Blood of tyrants running cold/They will never stop/Save defiance/You alone will resist in time/Break alliance to behold shifting paradigms/There is no time to waste/This you can’t deny/The truth you embrace was only just a lie/Now do you see you’re betrayed/now you must keep your resolved/Or everything you sacrifice to keep/Will forever be dissolved/Stop what they started/Open your eyes/They’re reaping a harvest/And bleeding you dry.”  He reminds listeners in the song’s third verse, “This is your season/Take it and rise/The battle’s drawing/Fight for your lives.”  This is a call to action, point blank.  This is a socio-political commentary that is urging people everywhere to not sit idly by and allow those who do bad in the world to continue their heinous acts.  He is telling listeners to stand up and do something and make a difference.  That is at least this critic’s own take on this content.  The power and urgency in the song’s musical arrangement works to make this seem the case, so hopefully it is at least somewhere in the proverbial ballpark.  Thinking about the power of the song’s combined musical and lyrical content along with that of the power of the other discussed songs’ power and variety, they show clearly together just how talented Mark Morton really is.  When the variety and power in the songs discussed here is considered along with that of the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the record becomes a strong solo debut for Morton.  It serves to show regardless of where his future takes him, Morton can and will be successful.

Mark Morton’s debut solo album Anesthetic is a strong first effort from the Lamb of God guitarist.  That is because while it does continue to display his metal chops throughout, it does more than that.  It also shows his abilities in other regions of the musical universe.  That, combined with lyrical content that is just as certain as the record’s musical content to keep listeners engaged, makes the record a positive offering from Morton and all involved.  All things considered, the album proves to be a presentation that will leave listeners anything but numb.  More information on Anasthetic is available online now along with all of Mark Morton’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://markmortonmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MarkDuaneMorton

 

 

 

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Mike Mangione & The Kin’s New LP “Shines”

Courtesy: RODZINKA Records

Mike Mangione and The Kin is scheduled to release its new album But I’ve Seen the Stars on Oct. 20 via RODZINKA Records.  The 10-song, 44-minute record is just the latest effort from band founder Mangione, and the first for Mangione and his new group, The Kin. Its musical arrangements will appeal to any fan of Delta Rae, Mumford & Sons, The Dunwells, Marc Broussard and other similar acts while its lyrical content boasts an equally wide appeal if not wider.  That is exemplified right from the album’s outset in ‘Three Days,’ which will be discussed shortly.  ‘Riding Down,’ which comes later in the album’s run is another example of the album’s wide-reaching musical and lyrical appeal.  It will be discussed later.  ‘The Question & The Cure’ is yet another example of how far-reaching this album proves to be, and is hardly the last of the record’s songs that can be cited to support that statement.  From start to finish, this record is nothing but positive.  Considering all of this, it proves to be not only one of the year’s top new independent records but potentially one of the year’s top new Americana/folk records and even top new albums overall.

Mike Mangione and The Kin’s new record But I’ve Seen The Stars is a shining new effort from the veteran singer/songwriter and his new group of musicians. That is thanks in no small part to the album’s musical and lyrical content.  The combination of those two elements makes this record a work that will reach an innumerable audience.  This statement is supported right from the album’s outset through the song ‘Three Days.’  The song’s gentle, flowing acoustic guitar line and harmonies instantly conjure thoughts of Delta Rae.  The string arrangements and barely there percussion serve to strengthen that comparison even more.  The balance in those elements easily evokes powerful emotions in any listener’s heart and mind.  The song’s lyrics will move listeners just as much as the song’s musical arrangement as Mangione sings, “Three more days/I’m coming home/Leave the candle by the door/Three more days/Will you be there, too/Please be gentle, I’ll be true to you/Every day” right off the top.  From there Mangione goes on to sing in seeming introspection, “Had no feeling and no main/I had a story to arrange/The birds sang in missionary prose/Good intentions can impose/So I headed on my own/To seek the origin alone/Headed on my own/I sought the elders/Heard them speak/And I saw forever and the meek/And with fear they focused on my eyes/Fear was hatred in disguise/But the heart is lined with gold/And in there the story’s being told.” Mangione’s introspection continues in the song’s second verse just as much as the song’s lead verse as he sings about accepting mortality, personal emotions and other items.  Simply put, there is a lot of lyrical ground covered in a small space, and Mangione does a truly good job of making listeners think considering the seeming introspection presented in the song’s lyrics.  When the emotions and thought generated through that introspection is coupled with the song’s equally moving musical arrangement, the end result is an opus that will touch any listener deeply, proving right from the beginning the record’s impact and reach. It is just one of the songs included in this album that serves to show that impact and reach.  ‘Riding Down’ serves just as much as ‘Three Days’ to show why this album is such a success.

‘Riding Down’ is an important piece to discuss in examining this album because it is completely unlike ‘Three Days’ both musically and lyrically.  Its pure 12-bar blues arrangement will move audiences not by tugging at their heartstrings but by putting a smile on their faces and getting their feet tapping.  While the song is nearly four-minutes long, its arrangement makes it feel like that time passes by so much faster, which in this case is a good thing.  The arrangement is so enjoyable that listeners won’t even realize how much time has passed by its end, easily leaving them wanting more.  The song’s lyrical content is just as fun with its own classic blues approach.  He sings in the song’s lead verse, “In the midnight hour/Of the seventh day/There was a light around my window/Heard I couldn’t stay/I’m gone/I’m gone/When the hellhounds call with the whistle blowin’ baby/I’ll be riding down.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Go and tell my mama/Tell my sister I’m gone/I’m gonna hitch the black snake/A hundred-thirty strong.”  One is lead to think Mangione is singing here about that fabled long black train that has been noted in so many blues (and gospel) songs so many times before.  Mangione’s approach to the subject in this case is an original approach, yet still as enjoyable as that in those other songs.  When it is joined with the song’s infectious blues arrangement, the result is a song that quickly becomes one of this album’s best songs, if not its best.  It is yet another example of what makes this record such a surprising hit, and not the last.  ‘The Question & The Cure’ is yet another example of what makes this record stand out.

‘The Question & The Cure’ is yet another critical addition to But I’ve Seen The Stars because it stands on its own merits just as much as the previously discussed songs (and those not mentioned here).  The combination of Mangione’s vocal delivery style and the song’s gentle, flowing arrangement makes the song yet another emotionally powerful work.  The whole of those elements lends the song to comparisons to Bruce Springsteen and Mumford & Sons.  The same can be said of the song’s lyrical content, which sees Mangione singing, “And the halo/Of the living/Lies the ancient and the dead/The broken/We don’t read too good/Cause we can’t spell too good/So I’ve read/God bless the innocent/They’re just waiting on a home/And the course is wide and heavy/And the winter’s bite is cold/No way/Will my family lie/We’re the downcast cry/In the soil/they’re hungry…and the tears just change to blood and oil/But god bless the broken-hearted/They’re just waiting on the day/When they’re free from falling victim/When they can give it all away.  Yet again listeners have here an example of true lyrical depth that will tug at listeners’ heartstrings and leave them thinking and talking.  Even more impressive is the fact that Mangione and company did not just rehash the lyrical content or arrangements used in the album’s other works to have that powerful impact here.  Considering that, the song shows in whole why it is such an important part of this new record.  When it is joined with the previously discussed songs and those not noted here, the end result is a record that proves to be a truly shining success.

Mike Mangione and The Kin’s new album But I’ve Seen The Stars is a record reaches the stars without even trying.  Its musical arrangements and lyrical content together can leave listeners feeling such deep emotions at times while bringing great joy at others as well as emotions in between at yet others.  That is evidenced through the songs noted here and those not noted.  All things considered, this record shines just as bright as the stars seen, proving to be one of the year’s top new independent albums and potentially even one of the year’s top new albums overall.  But I’ve Seen The Stars will be released Oct. 20 via RODZINKA Records.  More information on the album is available online along with Mangione’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.mikemangione.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mikemangione

 

 

 

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Zweig & Co. Display Many Musical, Lyrical Moods On Their New LP

Courtesy: Ric Zweig and Fresh Air

Independent rock act Ric Zweig and Fresh Air recently announced it will release its new album More Rick Zweig and Fresh Air next month.  It is currently scheduled to be released independently June 1.  The record has the potential to be a true success for the band thanks to its wide variety of musical and lyrical moods.  That is exhibited right off the bat in the album’s opener ‘Rescue Me,’ which will appeal to fans of Carlos Santana, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews Band and other similar acts.  Its follow-up, ‘The Stranger,’ supports that statement even more as it reaches fans of Bruce Springsteen with its collective lyrical and musical content.  ‘Here Comes The Rain Revisited’ supports that previously noted statement even more as it takes listeners back to the 1970s with its gentle, almost contemplative guitar-driven arrangement and equally thought-provoking lyrical theme.  Each song shows in its own way the reach of Ric Zweig and Fresh Air on its new album.  Those songs, together with the rest of the record’s songs, make a whole that is proves to be a breath of fresh, musical air for true music lovers everywhere.

Ric Zweig and Fresh Air’s new album is a record that proves to be, as already noted, a breath of fresh, musical air for true music lovers everywhere.  That, again, is due to the wide range of musical and lyrical moods exhibited throughout the record.  Its opener presents just one of those varied moods thanks in part to its mix of Carlos Santana-influenced guitar licks and more funk-infused riffs.  The juxtaposition of the two sounds (and their combined sound) creates an infectious, celebratory groove that will instantly make listeners want to move.  The song’s lyrical content matches that upbeat tempo and vibe exhibited through the song’s musical arrangement.  That is evident as Zweig and his band mates sing happily in the song’s chorus, “Baby, baby/Set me free/Maybe, baby/You and me…Baby, baby/Rescue me.”  The song’s verses add to that upbeat vibe as Zweig sings, “Gotta get back  my beats/Going back to New Orleans/Wanna play some rock and roll.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Gonna set up a chair on French Street/Gonna put a tip jar at my feet/I think it’ll be good for my soul/Just to play that rock and roll.”  Interestingly enough, Zweig, who is a former judge, also sings about police trying to run off the song’s subject as he sits in his chair, playing his rock and roll.  The subject sings that he will just come back another day.  It is a statement that imbues such happiness even with its laid delivery.  The same can be said of the song’s musical arrangement.  When the two are joined for one, the end result is a composition that will put a smile on any listener’s face and heart.  By contrast, the slower, more contemplative composition that is ‘The Stranger’ will move listeners in another way, showing even more the wide breadth of musical and lyrical moods exhibited throughout this record.

‘Rescue Me’ is a good way for Ric Zweig and Fresh Air to open its new album.  The song is a happy, celebratory piece that will bring joy to any listener.  By contrast, the album’s very next song, ‘The Stranger’ is the polar opposite.  This is not bad, though.  That is because it serves to show through comparison, the wide range of musical and lyrical moods exhibited throughout the record.  In regards to its musical arrangement, it instantly conjures thoughts of Bruce Springsteen’s most emotional works with its ethereal, almost brooding guitar line.  The simplicity in the arrangement couples with Zweig’s own gravelly vocal delivery to create a sound that one would easily mistake for Springsteen if one were to hear this song without knowing it wasn’t him.  What’s more, the arrangement’s secondary guitar line, with its airy and bluesy sound conjures thoughts (in at least this critic’s mind) of songs included in Pink Floyd’s melancholy 1994 album The Division Bell.  Yes, that seems like quite the dichotomy of sounds.  But somehow it works.  The end result is a musical arrangement that will have a deep emotional impact on listeners.

The song’s lyrical content is just as emotionally impacting as its musical arrangement.  That is because Zweig seems to be singing here about possibly confronting one’s mortality.  That is of course only this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as gospel.  That interpretation is made as Zweig sings about “a tall dark stranger looking at me…he says you gotta come with me/I need you now.”  He goes on to sing, “That stranger/Why won’t he let me be?/Can’t he see/He should let me be/Instead I think/He gonna  be  a haunting me/He’s no stranger to me/He’s no stranger to me .”  What’s interesting here is the subtle addition of what almost sounds like church bells off in the distance as Zweig sings about the stranger haunting the song’s subject.  That may or may not be an intentional timing between that line and said element.  But the juxtaposition of the pair definitely leads one to think even more that Zweig’s “stranger’ is perhaps the Grim Reaper.  Keeping that in mind, if Zweig is in fact addressing having to come to terms with mortality, then the lyrical manner in which he has broached the subject is definitely original and heart wrenching.  It is right up there with some of Johnny Cash’s songs about accepting his mortality before his death at least lyrically. Of course when that emotional impact is joined with that of the song’s musical arrangement, the pairing makes the song in whole one of the album’s hardest hitting compositions, showing even more the wide array of musical and lyrical moods presented throughout Rick Zweig and Fresh Air’s new self-titled album.  It is not the last of the songs that exhibits that far-reaching impact.  ‘Here Comes The Rain Revisited’ displays even more the record’s wide musical and lyrical diversity.

‘Rescue Me’ and ‘The Stranger’ are both critical additions to Ric Zweig and Fresh Air’s new album.  That is because set against one another, they show the diverse musical and lyrical moods exhibited throughout the album in whole.  They are not the only songs that serve to show that diversity.  As the album progresses, another song – ‘Here Comes The Rain Revisited’ – shows even more that diversity.  This song’s musical arrangement takes listeners back to the 1960s and ‘70s with the gentle, laid back guitar-driven groove.  It is a direct contradiction to the song’s seemingly melancholy title.  The very contradictory nature of the two elements makes the song’s musical arrangement that much more enjoyable.  The song’s lyrical content adds to that enjoyment as  Zweig sings, “Just set me down/By the river/Just let me down/By the river/You know it’s been a long time/Since I met you baby/Has life been good to you/A lot of time’s gone by/Just take me down/to the ocean/Just bring me down/To the ocean/You know it’s been a long time/You always leave me tongue-tied/I wrote this song for you/I love you just because/Here comes the rain/Take me to the other side/Never been more ready/Here comes the rain.”  This doesn’t seem like one of those standard songs about a long-lost love.  It seems like someone who is just happy to see a former love.  Perhaps this was a relationship that didn’t end as badly as so many countless others apparently have.  That would explain why the song is so happy despite a title that doesn’t seem so happy.  Keeping that in mind, the seeming upbeat mentality exhibited in these lyrics adds to this song’s enjoyment.  When it is joined with the song’s equally upbeat musical arrangement, the whole of the two elements serves to show even more clearly a song that stands out clearly from its counterparts.  That helps the song to show even more the wide variety of musical and lyrical moods exhibited throughout More Ric Zweig and Fresh Air.  When this song is joined with its counterparts in one whole, they make the album in whole a work that is, as already noted, a breath of fresh, musical air for music lovers everywhere.

Ric Zweig and Fresh Air’s new LP More Ric Zweig and Fresh Air is an impressive new effort from the independent Florida-based outfit.  That is because of the variety of musical and lyrical moods exhibited throughout the record as evidenced in each of the songs discussed here.  From joyous to deeply contemplative to just happy and points in-between, this record offers plenty for audiences to appreciate.  More information on the album is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.riczweig.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ric.zweig

 

 

 

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Audiophiles And Entrepreneurs Alike Must See All Things Must Pass

Courtesy: MVD Entertainment Group

Courtesy: MVD Entertainment Group

All things must pass.  This is such a short, simple statement yet it speaks volumes.  That is why it was chosen as the title for MVD Visual’s new Tower Records documentary by the same name.  The documentary follows the meteoric rise and fall of the once powerhouse music distributor and what led to that rise and fall.  The story is, in itself a key element of the documentary’s overall presentation.  It will be discussed shortly.  The information that is presented is just as pivotal to the documentary’s presentation It will be discussed later.  The pictures, footage, and interviews that are used to tell the story are important in their own right to the documentary’s presentation, too.  All things considered, All Things Must Pass proves to be a documentary that any audiophile “Must” see at least once if not more.

All Things Must Pass is a music documentary that every audiophile “must” see at least once if not more.  That is due in large part to the story at the center of the documentary.  The story in question follows the meteoric rise and fall of Tower Records, a store that was once America’s (and the world’s) preeminent music store.  Audiences will be just as enthralled by the story of the company’s unexpected rise to prominence as they will be by its eventual downfall.  The story starts with founder Russ Solomon discussing how he bought his father’s drug store from him (his father) and turned it into a record store.  From there, it follows the expansion of that store into another and then another before eventually becoming a worldwide phenomenon.  It doesn’t end there, though.  As is revealed in the story’s ninety-six minute run time, the company’s peak was also the point at which everything began to collapse.  It is revealed that a combination of factors led to that collapse, beginning with the company’s outstanding debts and expenditures.  The advent of music’s digital era through Napster added to the company’s problems.  The interviewees stress here that this was just one of the elements that spelled the end for Tower Records.  It was not the sole factor in the company’s downfall.  That is something that is especially worth noting here.  One might think, going into the documentary that this would be a major point in the story.  But the surprise of the company’s other financial issues serves as a real surprise element in this story.  It really serves as a reminder to anyone wanting to start up a business—as much as growth can seem so great, that growth must be handled responsibly.  Solomon admits in one of his interview segments that in hindsight, he should have been more fiscally responsible.  He says in the segment in question that had he been more responsible maybe the company might not have met its end.  The loving recollections that he and the company’s former employees share of their time in the end put a touching accent on the story and might even leave some viewers slightly teary-eyed.  Between all that has been noted here and everything else revealed in the story, it is clear why the story by itself is so important to the presentation of All Things Must Pass.  The story at the center of this documentary is just one of its most important elements, too.  The information that is revealed throughout the course of the program is just as important to note as its story.

The story at the center of All Things Must Pass is by itself an undeniably important element in the documentary’s presentation.  That is because it is a powerful underdog story of sorts; a story of a man who dreamed big but sadly let those dreams get too big.  There is no doubt as to the importance of the documentary’s central story, considering this.  It is just one of the documentary’s most important elements, though.  The information that is revealed throughout the story is just as important to the documentary’s presentation as its central story.  Some of the information revealed in the story is funny.  Some is insightful and other information downright surprising.  One of the most interesting of the story’s funny revelations is the amount of drugs and alcohol openly consumed by the company’s employees in its infancy.  There is even a picture of a receipt displayed during this revelation showing the store’s expenditures at one point.  The receipt notes that the store spent more than $300 on cocaine (trucking fuel as it was called at the time) as an expenditure.  One of the more interesting of the story’s insightful revelations is that Foo Fighters front man and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl actually worked at Tower Records at one point and Elton John shopped for his music there, too.  Both men speak on these topics in their own interview segments.  Even Bruce Springsteen is interviewed for the documentary.  He discusses the positive reputation that Tower Records established early on in its life.  Among the most surprising pieces of information revealed in the course of the documentary is what went on in the listening booths at some Tower Records stores.  It is revealed by one interviewee that people made out in the listening booths and even alleges that people had sex in the listening booths, too.  How and why that would happen in such a public place is anyone’s guess.  But it is noted that allegedly both things happened.  Somehow one wouldn’t disagree that any of it happened.  The revelations noted here are just some of the most interesting tidbits of information revealed throughout the documentary.  They are hardly the only interesting revelations made throughout the program.  There are plenty of others that audiences will discover for themselves when they watch this program.  When all of that information is joined with the documentary’s central story, it becomes even clearer why audiophiles and entrepreneurs alike must see this presentation.

The story at the center of All Things Must Pass and the information presented therein are both key elements to the documentary’s overall presentation.  That is because they serve both by themselves and together to show why this is a “must” see music documentary.  They are not the only elements worth noting in examining the documentary’s presentation.  The pictures, footage, and interviews that are used to help tell the story are just as important to the documentary’s presentation as its story and the information shared through the story.  The pictures collectively serve as a visualization for audiences.  It takes viewers back to Tower Records’ infancy, showing just how little the store started with and how far it came. The footage and interviews work with the pictures to illustrate and progress that story even more.  The interviews especially serve to help tell the story because of how frank the interviewees are in their shared memories.  When one puts the footage, pictures and interviews together, they enrich the program’s presentation even more and ensure even more audiences’ maintained engagement.  Audiences’ maintained engagement is even more assured when these elements are joined with the documentary’s central story and the information shared throughout the story.  All things considered All Things Must Pass proves in the end to be a documentary that entrepreneurs and audiophiles alike must see at least once if not more.

All Things Must Pass is a documentary that entrepreneurs and audiophiles alike “must” see at least once if not more.  That is because on one level it is a stirring underdog story of sorts.  It tells the story of one man’s determination to make his dreams come true and provide a place for the community to come together.  On another level it serves as a stark warning for any up-and-coming entrepreneur about fiscal responsibility.  That is because ultimately it was fiscal irresponsibility that spelled the end for Tower Records.  Given, the advent of digital music availability played a part in the company’s downfall, too.  But as the story reveals, it was ultimately fiscal irresponsibility that led to the company’s downfall.  That two-pronged story couples with the information shared throughout the story to make the documentary even more engaging.  The footage, interviews and pictures that are used to help advance the story collectively serve as the final touch to the program.  All things considered, All Things Must Pass proves in the long run to be a presentation that audiophiles and entrepreneurs alike must see.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via MVD Entertainment’s online store at http://mvdshop.com/products/all-things-must-pass-dvd.  More information on this and other titles from MVD Entertainment Group is available online at:

 

 

 

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Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me Is A Moving Tribute To One Of Music’s Greats

Courtesy: Virgil Films

Courtesy: Virgil Films

Four years ago country music legend Glen Campbell made one of the most difficult announcements of his career if not the single most difficult. The announcement in question was that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Those that know someone with Alzheimer’s or that have known someone with Alzheimer’s know the emotional pain that comes with such an announcement. Knowing that there is no cure for the disease, Campbell decided that he would not go quietly into that good night. Rather, he wanted to go out with a bang before the disease took control of his mind. He went on from there to release one final album and embark on a farewell tour to thank his fans for their years of support. Now thanks to Virgil Films Campbell’s fans can relive that final tour and everything that came with it in the form of the tour documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. The main reason that this is such a standout documentary is that it isn’t presented like every other tour documentary out there. Rather it is presented more as a tribute to the life and legacy of one of the music industry’s titans. That is just one reason that audiences will find it so compelling. The interviews with Campbell’s counterparts throughout the entertainment industry make the documentary even more intriguing. It isn’t just because his counterparts come from so many different realms of the industry either. The surprising reveal of each celebrity interviewee’s link to Campbell makes the program in whole even more powerful. The final reason that viewers and fans alike will find this presentation so touching and powerful is its editing. The editing is spotless from beginning to end, making for an emotional impact that will move even the strongest person emotionally speaking. It is thanks to the work of those that edited the documentary and prepared it for its release that the interviews and collective footage presented here is so powerful. It brings everything full circle and proves famed Chicago Sun Times writer/critic Richard Roeper completely right in his sentiment that Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is “one of the most remarkable documentaries in recent years” and that “You do not want to miss this movie.”

Every year, there is any number of new music documentaries distributed to stores and online outlets for viewers to choose from. The problem is that most of those documentaries are little more than space fillers used as to hold fans and fulfill contractual obligations with record labels. Luckily though, for all of those poorly put together pieces, there are the occasional diamonds in the rough that manage to somehow shine through. Virgil Films’ new documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is one of those diamonds in the rough. This presentation is not just another run of the mill tour documentary. It is a tour documentary. But it is more than that. It is a tribute to the life and legacy of one of the music industry’s titans. That is the central reason for its success. While it does follow Campbell on his final nationwide tour, it offers audiences more than just a presentation following Campbell on said tour. It also follows Campbell off of the road. Viewers get to follow Campbell and his wife as they check in with the doctor to find out how much the disease has progressed. They also get to follow Campbell as he tries to face the reality of his diagnosis within his daily life. What audiences get here is the picture of a brave man; a man who refuses to just give up and give in. Rather, as viewers will see, he chooses to face it head on with a smile and all of the laughs and love that he can give. This includes some of the most difficult times as the disease progresses. The end result of the presentation will have viewers (including even the strongest viewers) both laughing and crying throughout. By the program’s end, viewers will agree that Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is not just another tour documentary. It is a powerful, moving tribute to a legend that will potentially inspire others with family and friends suffering from that terrible disease.

The overall presentation of Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me makes the documentary stand out head and shoulders above every other music documentary that has been released so far this year. That is because it isn’t just a run of the mill tour documentary churned out to satisfy some label’s contractual obligations. It is a tribute to the life and legacy of a great talent. It’s just one reason that this presentation is such a memorable and moving work. The interviews with Campbell’s family, friends, and counterparts across the entertainment industry make the documentary even more powerful. The interviews in question are with Campbell’s family, friends, and counterparts throughout the entertainment industry. Those counterparts include well-known figures from the country music world such as Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, and Keith Urban as well as some of the rock world’s biggest names including: Bruce Springsteen, Chad Smith, and The Edge among others. Even former President Bill Clinton gets some face time along with famed actor/comedian Steve Martin and other well-known figures from the realms of television and movies. The list of people interviewed throughout the program is within itself plenty of reason to watch the documentary. But it is what the interviewees have to say of Campbell that makes each individual’s discussion so important to the whole of the documentary. Every one of the feature’s interviewees speaks with such reverence for him. They also speak with an increasingly noticeable emotion. The reason for that emotion is revealed in the program’s final minutes. Not to ruin it for anyone but it is revealed that the individuals interviewed for the documentary each had a connection to somebody that was either suffering from Alzheimer’s or that had suffered. So it makes sense that they would each get somewhat choked up in discussing the topic as it related to Campbell. It just brought up memories of their own friends and families. It is that heartfelt emotion displayed by each of the interviewees that really makes each separate segment so powerful. In turn, each of the segments combined makes the presentation in whole that much more moving for viewers.

The interviews collected for Virgil Films’ new Glen Campbell documentary are extremely moving to say the very least. They are so moving not because they feature some of the biggest names from the entertainment world and that of politics, but because of the heartfelt sentiment shared by each individual in discussion what Glen Campbell means to them and how his condition relates to them personally. They, along with everything else presented in this documentary, paint a picture that every person should see regardless of their familiarity with Glen Campbell the man and the musician. Of course without the work of those charged with editing and assembling the presentation ahead of its release, none of that would matter. It is the work of those individuals that rounds out the reasons that audiences will so appreciate this work. Their efforts present Campbell as a strong yet still fragile individual. The footage of Campbell in his childhood set against that of him as an adult, raising his family adds even more of an emotional impact to the overall presentation. Seeing Campbell slowly begin to struggle through his tour yet still fight through it and put on the best show that he can ups that emotional impact even more. Add in the expert balance of each element from beginning to end and viewers will find themselves not wanting to turn off the movie. Like a really good book or any other really good movie, the work of the editors makes this presentation’s near two-hour run time pass by with ease. Viewers won’t realize at all just how much time has passed by the time the movie has ended. They will also find themselves moved possibly deeper than they ever had by any fictional feature released in recent memory. In coming to such realization, audiences will agree that those charged with editing this documentary have succeeded to the highest degree in their jobs and have in turn helped craft what is one of the best music documentaries to be released in many years; a documentary that every viewer should see regardless of their familiarity with Campbell’s body of work.

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is one of the best music/tour documentaries to be released in recent memory. The work of the movie’s editors coupled with its interviews and the overall approach to the presentation make it a presentation that every viewer should see regardless of their familiarity with Campbell’s body of work. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Virgil Films’ online store at http://www.virgilfilmsent.com/store/product.php?pid=716. More information on this and other titles from Virgil Films is available online now at:

Website: http://www.virgilfilmsent.com

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

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Jefferson Grizzard’s Sophmore LP Another Solid “Modern Classic Rock” Record

Courtesy:  Back Porch Syndicate Records

Courtesy: Back Porch Syndicate Records

Singer/songwriter Jefferson Grizzard has released in his sophomore album Learning How To Lie a record that any fan of the “modern classic rock” genre will appreciate. The dozen tracks that make up his latest album instantly conjure thoughts of Bob Seeger, Joe Cocker, George Thorogood, and even Bruce Springsteen to a lesser extent. That’s thanks to the combination of his own vocal style set alongside From social commentary of sorts to songs of lost love and what would seem to be personal experiences, the songs on this album cover any number of topics. And the songs’ companion musical side serves to make each one all the better. One of the best examples of that social commentary comes in the form of the album’s title. The mournful yet powerful ballad ‘Lorelei’ is one of the best songs centered on a broken relationship. And ‘New Location’ comes across as a song that illustrates a personal experience. It would be interesting to hear from Grizzard himself on this infectious piece. Of course it and the other noted songs are but part of what makes Learning How To Lie a fit for any “modern classic rock” fan. There are nine other songs not noted here from which audiences will be able to choose their favorite(s). In hearing those other songs, those same listeners will agree that whether it be their first time hearing Grizzard’s music or not, this album is a solid work from start to finish.

One of the best examples of what makes Jefferson Grizzard’s latest record such a joy is its title track, which comes roughly halfway through the album. Grizzard writes in this bluesy rocker, “Lovers spasm up the stairs/Through cries of pleasure and despair/The pauper and the millionaire/Their fates are slowly fusing/Golems hide ‘neath plastic shields/Throw tear gas full of sex appeal/While riots make commercial reels/The cobbler slays the general/And the planet keeps on turning.” These musings come across as personal thoughts on the state of the world around us. “While riots make commercial reels” could be referencing the spots made by news agencies that tease the daily nightly newscasts. More often than not, those spots tend to feature violent stories such as riots. One look at the nightly newscasts across the “Big 4” networks proves that. He writes also that “Golems hide ‘neath plastic shields.” Anyone with any knowledge of the Lord of the Rings trilogy will get this reference. It would seem that he’s speaking metaphorically, saying that something ugly lies beneath a weak façade. Of course this could be wrong being that it is just this critic’s own interpretation. Regardless, the fact that Grizzard could create such thoughts (and likely discussions) centered on this song just goes to prove its importance on this record. Audiences can make their own decisions when they check out the song’s official video online via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9cEtilwnn4.

‘Learning How To Lie’ is a prime example of why “modern classic rock” fans will appreciate and enjoy Jefferson Grizzard’s sophomore CD by the same name. It’s just one of so many songs on the record that boasts a solid groove sure to have audiences singing along. And its seeming social commentary only serves to make it even more enjoyable. On the exact opposite side of that musical coin, Grizzard exhibits his softer side on the ballad of lost love, ‘Lorelei.’ The words themselves are only part of what makes this song so hard hitting. The addition of gentle piano runs, alongside a chorus backing Grizzard and his band mates, and an orchestral arrangement make this song a solid tearjerker. Grizzard sings overtop of those additions, “Hear the engine roar/She’s got me running/From my own sweet home/She’s got me feeling all alone/With shots of shattered bones/That leave me stranded/Crash landed in a field/Where her voice, it never yields/You’ve got centuries to fill/With all these words you’ve crafted.” He paints a picture of a relationship that did not exactly end well. Again, with the addition of the orchestration and choir, it becomes all the more impactful for any listener.

Both ‘Learning How To Lie’ and ‘Lorelei’ are excellent examples of what Grizzard offers audiences on his latest full length release. If they aren’t enough for listeners to give this album a chance, then ‘New Location’ most definitely will be enough. Grizzard gets pretty descriptive here, writing about a person living in a situation that is less than even substandard for lack of better wording. He writes in this song, “All my books are burning/The carpet’s stained with tar/There’s Raptors rippin’ all the second strings off my guitars/Outside on my deck/The dogs are howlin’ at the moon/Jackie’s in the basement/Puttin’ fire to a spoon/I aint tryin’ to make no accusations/But I can’t lie/I need a new location.” The imagery only gets more disturbing from here. And it’s no better early on. That’s not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, the picture that he and his fellow musicians paint with their combination of lyrics and music make this one of the absolute highest of points. Audiences can download that song, the others noted here or any of the album’s other tracks now online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Learning-How-Explicit-Jefferson-Grizzard/dp/B00JRE0R6M/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1405712208&sr=1-2&keywords=jefferson+grizzard.

Jefferson Grizzard currently has no tour dates scheduled. However, after downloading the songs from his new album, audiences can keep up to date with all of the latest tour updates, news and more online at http://jeffersongrizzard.com and http://www.facebook.com/jeffersongrizzard. 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.

Audiences Will Enjoy “Fan Made” Rockumentary

Courtesy:  Arts Alliance Media/Scott Free/Black Dog

Courtesy: Arts Alliance Media/Scott Free/Black Dog

Bruce Springsteen.  One name.  So many thoughts.  Few artists have meant to the music industry what he and his band mates in the E Street Band have—and still mean—to audiences and fellow musicians through their career.  Now thanks to film maker Baillie Walsh, audiences get a very special look at just what he and his band mates mean to the world.  Walsh has directed a new documentary centered on “The Boss” that is comprised largely of fans submissions. The documentary, Springsteen and I, presents what he and his band’s music mean to fans from the first hand perspective of his fans.

Lots of documentaries have been made over the years that include fan submissions.  But it’s rare for music documentaries to consist nearly entirely from the perspective of the fans.  It makes this a very special presentation.  What’s so interesting in terms of the fan submissions is just how many people from so many backgrounds Bruce Springsteen has reached throughout the course of his career.  Audiences see fans from every walk of life.  There are truckers, housewives, hopeful musicians, and so many others in between.  Just as interesting is the sentiment shared throughout the fan submissions.  Every fan notes just how important of a role Springsteen’s music has played in their life.  At one point, one fan tells his story of the importance of Springsteen’s music as he drives, and begins to become very emotional.  It’s one of the most moving of the main feature’s barely hour plus run time.  On the completely opposite end, there’s an appearance by “The King” in one fan story that will have audiences laughing and smiling together.  Whereas the previous moment noted was one of the film’s most moving, this moment is one of the most memorable for the wonderful feelings that it will bring about.  The story shared by the Elvis impersonator is one of this documentary’s most enjoyable of highlights.  There are plenty more highlights that could be shared.  But that would mean endless rambling.  And that is not what this critic is here to do.  However, it does bring about another aspect of the documentary that audiences will enjoy just as much as the stories shared by their fellow fans.  That enjoyable secondary aspect of the documentary is the fan and professional footage used for the feature. 

The professional footage included in the feature makes up a healthy portion of its live performances.  As a matter of fact, the second hour of the feature is nothing but live footage of Springsteen and company culled from over the years.  While both the live and “bootleg” footage are combined throughout the first hour of the documentary to help illustrate the stories shared by Springsteen’s fans, the documentary’s more professionally recorded performances complete everything.  The second half of the documentary is comprised largely of live performances.  It culminates with the now infamous London 2012 performance in which the plug was pulled because the show went past the city curfew.  It makes sense as to why the London show was used as the final performance in the documentary.  The way in which it went out literally with the lights made for even more impact.  That’s because the show didn’t end there.  Springsteen stayed devoted to the audience and played one more song before having to leave the stage.  It was one last tribute to what it is that makes people love Springsteen so much to this day.  Sir Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings) was there along with John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival), Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, Street Sweeper Social Club).  The footage sound and video were expertly mixed both with this concert and with the others included throughout the documentary’s second half.  Even after the concert ends, there’s one more surprise for audiences that takes up the last ten minutes or so of the documentary.  It will leave audiences feeling entirely fulfilled, knowing they have just experienced something very special.     

The mix of live footage and fan submitted stories makes Springsteen and I more than just another concert documentary or documentary.  All things considered, it will be a wonderful experience for any true fan of Bruce Springsteen from start to finish.  And it will be an equally welcome addition to any Springsteen fan’s home library when it is eventually released to DVD and/or Blu-ray.  But first, it will run exclusively in theaters one time today, July 22nd and again next Tuesday, July 30th.  Audiences can check to see if it will play at their nearest theater online at http://www.fathomevents.com/#!springsteen-and-i.  Fans in Greenville, North Carolina will get to see this feature tonight at the Greenville Grande 14.  Audiences in Raleigh will also get to see it as it will play at the Brier Creek Stadium 14.  Fans in the mountains of North Carolina will also get to see the presentation as it will run at theaters in Asheville, Charlotte, Concord, Greensboro, and Salisbury.  Tickets for showings can also be purchased online at http://www.fathomevents.com/#!springsteen-and-i

To keep up with tall of the latest news and more from Bruce Springsteen, fans can follow him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/brucespringsteen and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/springsteen.  Fans can also get all the latest news and notes from Bruce Springsteen on his official website, http://www.brucespringsteen.net

To keep up with all of 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.