Alison Faith Levy’s Latest LP Is Its Own Special Addition To This Year’s Field Of New Family Music Albums

Courtesy: Strange Little Girl Music

Family Music entertainer Alison Faith Levy’s latest album, You Are Magic is officially available today.  Released through Strange Little Girl Music, the nine-song record is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new family music albums.  Its interest comes in part through its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes addressed throughout the album are of interest, too and will be examined later.  The record’s sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this record.  All things considered, the album proves to be its own special family music presentation.

Alison Faith Levy’s new album, You Are Magic is a presentation that audiences will find is itself a special, unique offering from Levy.  The record’s success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are important to examine because of their diversity.  Levy offers arrangements here that will especially appeal to older audiences.  Case in point is the arrangement featured in ‘The Gift.’  Younger audiences will not catch it, but older listeners will almost immediately catch the similarity to works from Buddy Holly what with the guitar line and the subtle use of the bells against that and the specific style of drumming (and even the sound from the drums).  ‘Putting It Back Together’ by comparison lends itself more to the semi-R&B infused pop songs of the mid-60s or so.  That is evidenced especially through the use of the keyboards.  That fuzzed, warm electric keyboard alongside the piano and their arrangements specifically point to that comparison.  By comparison, the 60s rock-influenced arrangement at the center of ‘Draw’ shows even more, the diversity in the album’s musical content.  When it is considered alongside the more modern kindie-pop sound of ‘You Are Magic,’ the 80s ballad style presentation in ‘Now Is The Moment’ and even the country-folk approach of ‘Canopy,’ the noted diversity becomes clearer.  All things considered, the musical arrangements featured throughout this record are sure to engage and entertain older audiences.  While they will immerse those listeners in the record in their own way, the lyrical themes featured alongside that musical content will appeal to them and to their younger counterparts.

The lyrical themes featured in You Are Magic are diverse in their own way.  The album’s title song delivers a message in its lyrical theme that encourages young listeners to take pride in themselves as Levy sings, “You can do it/You are magic.”  At the same time, the song also promotes a positive, ecologically friendly message about caring for the planet.  She reminds young listeners here that they can make a difference in caring for the planet while also knowing that they are special and unique.  The duality there is certain to resonate with audiences of all ages, as noted.  On yet another note, ‘Draw’ encourages young listeners to use their imaginations and put pencil to paper, letting their creativity flow.  Considering the importance of the development of children’s creativity as they themselves develop, encouraging that part of their personalities and mental health to grow is always welcome.  It also shows in its own way the diversity in the record’s lyrical themes.  The same can be said of the simple theme of gifts coming in was and places that people do not expect in the aptly titled ‘The Gift.’  Between these and other themes featured throughout the record, the whole shows clearly, the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes.  When those themes are considered along with the album’s equally diverse musical arrangements, the whole makes the album’s overall content reason enough for audiences to hear the record at least once.  The sequencing of that content rounds out the album’s most important elements.

The sequencing of this record’s content is important to address because it takes that noted diversity into full account as it presents the album’s general effect.  From one song to the next, the sound and stylistic approach in the arrangements changes.  Yet through it all, the songs maintain a certain mid-tempo approach.  To that end, this ensures that the record progresses fluidly from beginning to end while also keeping the songs’ musical content unique throughout at the same time.  The duality in that stability in the songs’ arrangements and the variance in their styles and sounds shows in its own way, the success in the sequencing.  That the sequencing also ensures the lyrical themes change from one to the next ensures even more, that engagement and entertainment.  The end result of the attention clearly paid to the sequencing is that it produces a positive general effect.  That effect works with the positivity in the content’s variety to make the whole presentation its own special work.

Alison Faith Levy’s new album, You Are Magic is a positive presentation that audiences of all ages will find worth hearing at least once.  That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question are quite diverse throughout.  They will find plenty of appeal among older audiences because they throw back to the golden age of music.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements add their own appeal to the record.  That is because they are also diverse.  Each theme also presents its own positive message in the process.  The overall content’s sequencing rounds out the most important of the album’s elements.  That is because it takes everything noted about the album’s musical and lyrical content into mind in establishing the album’s general effect.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make You Are Magic its own special addition to this year’s field of new family music albums.

You Are Magic is available now. More information on Alison Faith Levy’s new album is available along with her latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.alisonfaithlevy.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/alisonfaithlevy

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/AlisonFaithLevy

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

Audiences Will “Celebrate” Kurt Baker’s Latest LP

Courtesy: Wicked Cool records

Independent pop rock artist Kurt Baker is scheduled to release his latest album After Party Friday.  The 12-song record is, like his label mate Jessie Wagner’s new album Shoes Droppin’, another surprisingly enjoyable musical diamond in the rough in the year’s field of new albums.  The four singles that the album has already turned out more than prove the noted statement true.  They are but a snapshot of what makes After Party so enjoyable.  ‘Used To Think,’ which comes late in the album’s run, shows in its own way what makes the album so engaging and entertaining.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Should’ve Been The One,’ the 36-minute record’s penultimate entry, does its own share to show what makes the album stand out.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Waiting For You,’ which comes a little earlier in the album, is another notable addition to the record.  When it is considered along with the other two songs noted here, the album’s singles and the rest of its entries, the whole of After Party proves itself to be a presentation whose arrival listeners will happily celebrate.

Kurt Baker’s new solo album After Party is a wonderful new offering from the independent singer-songwriter.  It is a work that will appeal to a wide range of listeners with its musical and lyrical content alike.  The singles that the record has produced leave no doubt about that.  They are just a portion of what makes the album so enjoyable, too.  It boasts plenty of entertaining and engaging songs other than the noted entries, not the least of which is the song ‘Used To Think.’  The musical arrangement featured in this song is a unique presentation in itself.  It mixes elements of music from the 1980s and 50s for its whole.  The 1950s style sound is more evident in the choruses, with the simple, infectious calls of “ooh-ah, baby” while the more 80s pop rock style sounds are more commonplace in the verses.  The pairing of the sounds does not seem like it would work on paper, but in hearing them together here, they make for such a fun song.  When they join with the song’s lyrical theme, which comes across as Baker looking back on life and learning from his experiences, but doing so with a positive mindset, the song becomes even more accessible and enjoyable for audiences.

The noted lyrical topic is inferred right from the song’s lead verse, in which Baker sings, “I used to think that I wanted money/I used to think that I wanted fame/And looking back/Though it may seem funny/I used to think that was just a game/I used to think/That maybe one day/You might get up and go/I used to think/But now I know.”  The noted theme is continued in the song’s second verse as he sings, “I spent a lot of money on used records/I spent a lot of money on cheap beer/But in the end I got no regrets ‘cause/All that spending got me right to here/I used to think/That maybe one day/I would reap what I sow/I used to think/But now I know.”  He adds in the song’s third verse, “I realize that things are more important/I realize that things are black and white/To understand just how this world works/You’ve got to be in it for the fight/I used to think…”  that last refrain is tough to decipher. That is a minor issue.  Looking at the bigger picture of the lyrical content, it delivers a relatively positive message of someone who has learned some valuable life lessons and grown as a person as a result of those lessons.  That is, as always, just this critic’s own interpretation.  Hopefully it is close to being a correct interpretation.  Regardless, that it is not just another typical song about relationships and that it couples with an equally accessible musical arrangement, makes it that much more enjoyable for audiences.  It is just one of the works that shines so brightly in this presentation.  ‘Should’ve Been The One’ is another enjoyable entry in the record’s overall presentation.

‘Should’ve Been The One’ is another of those songs that mixes influences of the 1950s and 1980s.  What is important to note here is that it is unique from the album’s other entries. In this case, the song’s musical base takes elements of 1950s doo-wop a la The Skyliners, The Everly Brothers, and Ritchie Valens and crosses that with the synth-pop sounds that were so popular during the 1980s.  The hybrid approach makes the song a surprisingly appealing composition that holds its own alongside the album’s other arrangements.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, too.  The song’s familiar lyrical theme of a relationship adds to its appeal.

The noted theme is presented right from the song’s outset as Baker sings, “I found a true love/But I threw it away/She gave me all the lovin’/Day after day/But I was getting careless/I was foolin’ around/And I shoulda known that you would find out/Always act suspicious when I came home late/I told you I was working/And you took the bait/Rumors have a funny way of making their rounds/But the truth came out/And you found out/I know I let you down/Should’ve been the one to tell you/I should’ve been the one to say/Should’ve been the one to let you know…I can’t change my ways/Should’ve been the one to say.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “We were having our share of sleepless nights/Every disagreement/Turned into a fight/She came out of nowhere/There was nothing I could do/She makes me feel the same way I did when I met you.”  Even lyrically this song harkens back to the 1950s, as it is a song sung from the male perspective, knowing that he has done wrong, and he is basically showing his remorse to the woman he wronged.  This, and the song’s catchy musical arrangement, pair up to make the song that much more unique and interesting.  It is just one more way in which Baker’s latest offering proves to be such a surprisingly enjoyable work.  ‘Waiting For You’ is yet another way in which the album exhibits its appeal.

‘Waiting For You’ is unique in that while it does present its own 1950s sensibility, one could also argue a more modern influence a la Jack Johnson.  That is presented through the simple piano riff and guitar line.  Baker’s vocal performance is the main point at which the 1950s influence shows through.  In this case, it conjures thoughts of Buddy Holly.  That in itself is enough to generate plenty of appeal.  When that element is coupled with the equally familiar modern pop rock influence that is spread across Baker’s record, the song becomes even more enjoyable.  Add in the familiar relationship-based lyrical content and audiences get an even more pleasant presentation.

The lyrical presentation featured here comes across as that of a man who is completely devoted to a woman.  That is inferred as Baker sings in the song’s lead verse, “You were shining bright/On a warm summer night/And I was waiting for you/People smiled at me/’Cause I bet they could see/I was waiting for you/It was something real girl/How you made me feel, girl/And I always hoped you would feel it, too/Well we lost it all, girl/Sometime in the fall, girl/And I’m still in love with you.”  One need not really much deeper than this, as the rest of the song follows in similar fashion.  Though Baker does ask in the second verse, “What else can I do girl/It’s all up to you girl/Did you start a love affair with someone new?” as he tells the woman “I’m still in love with you.”  This is a man who is head over heels for a woman, point blank.  Again, this lyrical theme itself even throws back to another time.  When this is considered along with the song’s equally enjoyable musical arrangement, the song in whole becomes yet another truly high point of After Party.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here, the album’s singles and the rest of the album’s entries, the record in whole becomes a presentation overall that is a wonderful work that any listener will celebrate.

Kurt Baker’s new album After Party is a surprisingly enjoyable offering from the independent singer-songwriter.  Its musical and lyrical content alike more than prove that true.  That is proven through the songs noted here and through the record’s singles, as well as its other works.  All things considered, they make the album its own party for listeners ears that audiences will find themselves celebrating.  It is scheduled for release Friday through Wicked Cool Records.

More information on Kurt Baker’s new single and album is available along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.kurtbaker.me

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/KurtBakerMusic

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Kurtmiltonbaker

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

Eagle Rock Entertainment Unveils New Buddy Holly Doc

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment today released a special new recording for fans of Buddy Holly.

Rave On: The Buddy Holly Story was officially released today exclusively on digital platforms. Produced by 1515 Productions, this feature examines the life and career of the legendary musician. It does this through interviews with those closest to Holly as well as some of his most devout fans. Some of the famed figures interviewed for the project include: Jerry Allison (one of the original members of The Crickets), Queen guitarist Brian May, Buddy’s brothers Larry and Travis, Buddy’s widow Maria Elena Holly and others.

Holly is known as an innovator in the pop music world because his compositions broke the pop music barriers of the time, going beyond the blues-based influences that it had used up until then. The approach taken by Holly and his band mates in The Crickets led to the group releasing such hits as ‘Peggy Sue,’ ‘That’ll Be The Day’ and ‘Everyday’ among so many others.

Holly lost his life in a plane crash in February 1959 near Clear Lake, IA. Richie Valens and J.P. Richardson (A.K.A. The Big Bopper) were also killed in the crash along with the plane’s pilot, Roger Peterson. The fatal incident became known nationwide as “The Day The Music Died.”

More information on Rave On: The Buddy Holly Story and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

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

Whelan’s Sophomore Album Is A “Sweet” New Offering

Courtesy: Line in the Sand

Courtesy: Line in the Sand

Singer/songwriter Brian Whelan is set to release his latest full-length studio recording later this month.  The album, the second from the former Dwight Yokam guitarist, is currently schedule to be released Friday, March 25th.  It is a very special new offering from the multi-talented musician and performer.  That is because of the amount of musical ground that Whelan covers over the course of the album’s ten songs.  The album opens with a fun, upbeat composition that directly celebrates Americana that is sure to entertain any listener regardless of whether or not audiences are fans of the genre.  ‘The Only Thing’ comes across with its musical arrangement to be a throwback to the days of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison by and large.  Though, the melody established in the song’s guitar line harkens back to a rather well-known Rolling Stones song at times.  Its lyrical content makes it just as enjoyable.  Later in the album’s run Whelan shows the influence of his time with Yokam in ‘Number 1 Fan’ with an old-school honky tonk sound that is just as enjoyable as the pop rock sound of ‘Go Dancing’ and the poppy vibe of ‘We Got It All.’  If that isn’t enough for audiences, Whelan has plenty more to offer his listeners including a bit of psychedelic rock in ‘Talk To Me’ and southern rock in the album’s finale ‘The Bottom.’  That isn’t even to mention the album’s title track, the much slower but thought-provoking ‘Suckerpunch’ or any of the album’s other offerings.  In listening to each of the noted songs Whalen’s broad talents become quite obvious.  That is counting both the album’s musical content and that of its lyrics.  All things considered Sugarland proves in the end to be quite the *ahem* sweet (bad pun fully intended) new album.

Brian Whelan’s new album Sugarland is a “sweet” new album.  The ten-song collection is a rarity in today’s music industry.  It is a collection that refuses to let itself be pigeonholed into one genre or another at any one point.  From beginning to end this thirty-three minute recording runs the gamut from one genre to another.  It does so in impressive fashion, too with songs that impress both musically and lyrically with each song.  This is made obvious right off the top in the album’s opener, the aptly titled ‘Americana.’  This song is such a great way to open Sugarland because while it is in fact an Americana style song.  But it is anything but the traditional Americana piece.  Rather it is a sharp response to what he apparently believes has become an overly bloated, commercial genre; a genre that remains weighed down by certain stereotypes.  He sings of those stereotypes, “You can still beat on those pots and pans/But your cowboy boots don’t make you a better man/You beat your head up against the wall/But American music is gonna outlive us all/You look like you stepped out of the Civil War/Sick and tired of being super bored.  He also notes of those stereotypes early in the song, “Come on man/You gotta make the scene/The big bass drum and your tambourine/Sell it for a million dollars/But there is nothing wrong/Wrong with Americana.  Whelan’s sharp indictment of today’s Americana here is a powerful statement in itself.  The juxtaposition of the song’s Earl Scruggs-inspired banjo solo (played here by veteran musician Herb Pederson to the Reckless Kelly style southern rock sound is an even bolder statement.  It shows that Americana doesn’t have to be just one specific way.  It doesn’t have to be just the old stereotyped sound or even the more radio friendly, spit shined version of that sound.  It can include that old sound but still have something more to it without sacrificing that core sound or its soul.  The combination of the statement made in the song’s music and its lyrical content makes it a great way to kick off the album and to introduce (or even re-introduce) Whelan to listeners.  It’s just one example of what makes Whalen’s new album a must hear for audiences of all tastes.  ‘The Only Thing’ is another example of what makes Whelan’s album such a surprise.

‘Americana’ was a great choice with which to open Sugarland.  That is thanks to the statement made by its lyrics and its musical content.  While it was a good choice with which to open the album and an equally good addition to the album’s whole it is just one example of what makes Sugarland such a joy.  ‘The Only Thing’ is another good example of what makes Sugarland such an enjoyable new effort from Whelan.  The song’s musical arrangement conjures thoughts of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison with its combined guitar and bass line set against Whalen’s vocal delivery.  On a related note it could just be this critic’s own interpretation but the song’s guitar line sounds eerily similar to that of The Rolling Stones’ hit song ‘Shattered.’  Given it isn’t entirely the same. But the similarity can’t be denied.  It is probably purely coincidence.  But it is there nonetheless.  The relation of this song to works from so many greats is in itself more than enough proof of why it is another of the album’s highest points.  The song’s lyrical content is yet another reason that it stands out.  In regards to its lyrical content the song comes across as one of those songs steeped in the issue of a broken relationship.  What is interesting here is that if it is indeed centered on the subject then Whalen doesn’t come across in the same fashion as so many standard oh-woe-is-me opuses.  Yes, that sense of bittersweet emotion is there.  But it isn’t the typical piece about a relationship at its end.  That is argued as Whalen sings “I tried to run with a different crowd/But I just kept falling down/A change of clothes and a new routine/End up right back here at the beginning/Breaking away from you/Is the hardest thing to do/The only thing to do/would be true/Is you.”  And, that is just the song’s first verse.  He follows a similar vibe in the song’s second verse, singing “I tried around till I’ve had enough/I drive all night till I’m out of luck/Eyes trained on the city lights/They dance on the lathe/And they fade on the mirror.”  Again, there is that bittersweet vibe, which is again illustrated via the song’s musical arrangement but it is not one of those standard oh-woe-is-me sort of songs.  Considering this it makes the song stand out that much more among the other offerings on this record.  It still is not the last remaining example of what makes Sugarland a “sweet sophomore” record from Brian Whelan.  ‘Number 1 Fan’ is yet another example of what makes the album stand out.

Brian Whelan shows through both ‘The Only Thing’ and ‘Americana’ are both prime examples of what makes his latest album stand out among this year’s current crop of country, folk, and Americana records.  As impressive as they are in the bigger picture of Sugarland, they are not the only songs that can be cited in exhibited this.  The old school honky tonk sound of ‘Number 1 Fan’ is another great addition to the album.  In terms of its sound it is a direct throwback to his time with country great Dwight Yokam.  That is clear through its twangy, guitar-driven sound.  There is an infectious fiddle line that couples with an equally fun piano line that together adds even more enjoyment to the song.  Of course without note of the song’s lyrical content the song would be nothing.  In regards to its lyrical content, it is actually a pretty funny song.  That is because it is a joking commentary about the superfans across the board.  Whether it be in the country music world, the rock world or any other, every act has those fans.  Few if any artists out there have been brave enough to address those fans save perhaps for rapper Eminem.  And his commentary takes a completely different tone than that taken by Whalen in this song.  Whalen sings of said fans here, “I went out back/The people are gone/Behind yellow tape with my laminate on/I just love to watch you/Doin’ all the things you do/City after city/Night after night/If you called me crazy/You might be right/But there’s one thing, baby/I really wanna say to you/I’m your number one fan/I’m your right hand man/I’m a workin’ and slavin’/At every little thing I can/I’m the gleam in your eye/I’m the catch in your thigh/For that fine sweet love/Swim the Rio Grande.”  Plain and simple, this is someone that seriously needs a life, obviously.  Interestingly enough there really are people out there like this person.  It would have been easy for Whalen to take an overly serious tone here.  But he didn’t.  Instead he opted for the more playful tone.  And that tone rolls on in the song’s second verse with Whalen singing about the subject dreaming of being this and that, from the star’s personal banker, to his/her lover, to any number of other things.  It really is a little disturbing.  But again thanks to Whelan’s tone here one can’t help but laugh about that figure.  Considering this the combination of that light-hearted tone in the song’s lyrical content and its musical content the end result is one more of the highest of the album’s points.  And together with ‘Americana’ and ‘The Only Thing’ the picture that Whalen paints of Sugarland is that much clearer and fuller.  It is a picture of an album that is one of the year’s best new albums overall hands down.  That is even more the case when considering the rest of the album’s songs.

Sugarland is only the second full-length studio recording from former Dwight Yokam guitarist Brian Whelan.  Listening through the whole of the album is can be said that this album is one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  This is evident in both the musical arrangement of the album’s songs and their lyrical themes.  Whalen doesn’t stick to one style from one song to the next.  He touches on old school honky tonk, more modern southern rock, pop rock, and other sounds from beginning to end.  And the lyrical topics featured in the songs range from the emotional to the silly.  Even within the songs, Whalen’s approach to each topic plays its own important part.  All things considered Sugarland proves to be a “sweet” new album from Whelan and also one of the year’s best new albums overall.  It will be available Friday, March 25th in stores and online.  Whalen will hit the road beginning Wednesday, March 23rd in support of Sugarland ahead of the album’s release.  His current tour schedule runs through Sunday, April 3rd in Los Angeles, CA.  More information on Whelan’s tour is available online along with information on Sugarland at:

 

 

Website: http://www.brianwhelanmusic.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Brian-Whelan-103249399724102/timeline

Twitter: http://twitter.com/WhalenMusic

 

 

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.

The Good Times Do Indeed Roll On JD McPherson’s New LP

Courtesy:  Rounder Records

Courtesy: Rounder Records

Singer/Songwriter JD Mcpherson recently released his latest full-length studio release Let The Good Times Roll. The album, his second, was released via Rounder Records. McPherson’s new album is an aptly titled record. That is because throughout the course of the album’s eleven tracks and thirty-six minutes, McPherson offers audiences an album that will have them dancing and singing from the album’s upbeat title track to its Buddy Holly-esque ‘Bridgebuilder’ all the way to the album’s full-on 1950s style rocker ‘Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout The All-American.’ And those are just a few of the reasons that audiences will love this album, too. There is not one bad song throughout this record from beginning to end. It takes the classic vibe established in his 2012 debut album Signs and Signifiers and takes it another step forward incorporating more influence from the rock and r & b acts that continue to make the 1960s one of music’s greatest eras ever. The end result is an album that is deservedly one of this year’s early contender’s for a spot on any critic’s year-end list of the year’s best new albums overall.

JD McPherson has crafted in his second full-length album Let The Good Times Roll a record that is quite aptly titled. That is because from start to finish, McPherson does indeed let the good times roll. Every performance will leave a smile on listeners’ faces and will leave listeners wanting to listen to it again once it’s done. That is evident right from the album’s opener and title track. ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ is a great rocker that harkens back to the days of John Fogerty and others of his ilk. McPherson’s guitar work and drummer Jason Smay’s driving tempo set the song’s backbone. The additional piano line makes that backbone even stronger. McPherson’s soulful vocals complete the song as he sings, “I miss you so/Every time I fall away/I miss you so/Every time I fall away/Let the sky open up little darling/Follow me when I go/Let the sky open up and/Let the good times roll.” He goes on to sing to his figure of interest, “Why can’t you see/I’m standin’ at your door/Why can’t you see/I’m standin’ at your door/Open your home little darling/Follow me when I go/Let the sky open up and let the good times roll. It should be noted that this is not a cover of the 1956 song written by Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee. That aside it is still an enjoyable song in its own right. Presented here is a man telling a woman how much he needs her and loves her. But it’s not done in the classic almost begging style. Rather, there’s a full on swagger to the song here. It’s a swagger that is—again—certain to have any listener on their feet, singing and dancing happily right to the last moment and just as anxiously waiting to see what he has in store next.

What McPherson offers to his audiences after the album’s opener/title track is nothing short of impressive. Every one of the songs that make up this album is well worth its own mention. That includes even the softer, slower sounds of ‘Bridgebuilder.’ The seemingly Buddy Holly/Roy Orbison influenced song will instantly take listeners familiar with music of the era back to the 1950s both with its musical and lyrical side. Audiences can almost see McPherson and his band mates—Jimmy Sutton (upright bass), Jason Smay (drums), Ray Jacildo (keyboards), Doug Corcoran (Saxophone, guitar, keyboards)—on some high school stage a la Back to the Future performing for a group of teenagers while their teachers and parents chaperone the school dance. That is not necessarily meant in a negative way. Rather, the rendition is so pure that it creates that vivid image in one’s mind. That image becomes even more vivid as McPherson sings, “I’ll build something that is real and true/Building bridges to you/I’ll build something that is real and true/Building bridges to you/Bridgebuilder, bridge builder build me a bridge/Draw a straight line on the water/Bridge builder, bridge builder/The waters are deep/Fear I may sink to the bottom/Waiting in shadow/In old merry times/Dreaming of some father’s daughter.” The combination of those lyrics and the song’s classic 1950s style music creates a truly incredible song. It actually sounds like it came direct from the 1950s rather than just being some modern song recorded to sound like something similar to the music of that era. That speaks volumes of this song. It speaks, for that matter, just as loudly as the album’s opener and every other track on this disc. Because it does so, it proves ‘Bridgebuilder’ to be yet another wonderful addition to Let The Good Times Roll.

As is evidenced by both the Buddy Holly/Roy Orbison influenced ‘Bridgebuilder’ and the Jon Fogerty influenced opener/title track to Let The Good Times Roll, JD McPherson gives audiences plenty to like about his new album. They are definitely not all that there is to like about this album, either. McPherson and his band mates keep audiences entertained from start to finish on this album. And hearing the album’s rock and roll/r & b hybrid sound of the album’s closer ‘Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout The All-American’ listeners will agree with that sentiment. McPherson sounds almost like Little Richard here as he sings, “Everybody talking ‘bout the All-American/Knockin’ down walls like a bombardier again/Hair fallin’ down like a razor blade/Breakin’ every heart in every place you’re playing/Everybody talking ‘bout the All-American.” The sax and the drums coupled with McPherson’s work on the guitar and his vocal style make this song feel like something pulled right out of a time capsule that was buried decades ago. It is a solid and rocking final statement from McPherson and company that leaves the absolute best impact on listeners’ ears. Coupled with the rest of the album’s compositions—both those noted and not noted—it will leave an impact so strong that it will have listeners hitting play almost instantly to listen to the album again. That is how impressive this album proves itself. To have such a lasting impact on listeners means that it is definitely deserving of being called one of this year’s best new albums overall.

JD McPherson is currently touring in support of his new album. He will be at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, New York this Wednesday, February 25th for a sold out performance. From there, he and his band mates will wind their way through the Northeast before heading to the Midwest by way of Charleston, WV on March 8th. After those dates, the band will make its way down South beginning April 9th in Paducah, Kentucky. The band’s late spring schedule across the South includes a stop at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina on April 23rd at 7pm. That performance date will see McPherson supporting country music superstar Eric Church. Even more tour dates follow that show. McPherson’s latest tour schedule can be found online along with all of the latest news from McPherson online at:

Website: https://www.jdmcpherson.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jdmcphersonjr

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://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.

ACL Celebrates 40 Years Is A Wonderful Celebration Of A Show And Of Music Itself

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS and its hit concert series Austin City Limits celebrated two major landmarks for the series this fall. This past October Austin City Limits celebrated forty years on the air. That landmark makes the concert series the longest-running concert series on television to date. Making the anniversary even more special is the fact that this October, the show’s original studio was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s tenth Rock and Roll landmark. Both of these marks are big honors for ACL and for PBS. In honor of these honors, PBS released on DVD today the brand new concert recording Austin City Limits 40 Years. There is a lot to like about this concert recording starting with the show’s all-star lineup. Featured in the concert is a who’s who of the music industry. It features legendary names such as: Willie Nelson, Buddy guy, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Foo Fighters, and even the original members of Double Trouble among so many others. There are even performances from up-and-coming blues/rock band Alabama Shakes. It’s a display in its own way of how many generations this series has reached over the course of its four decades on the air. Making the set even better is the concert’s set list. Emmylou Harris covers Willie Nelson’s hit ‘Crazy.’ There’s also an all-star tribute to Sam & Dave with a performance of ‘Wrap It Up.’ And just as enjoyable is the multi-song, all-star tribute to blues legend and Austin native, the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan. These are just some of the examples of what makes the show’s set list so important to the presentation in whole. Last but hardly least noteworthy regarding the recording’s success is its bonus material. Included as bonus material, is forty-five minutes of bonus performances. There is also a bonus behind-the-scenes look at the work that went in to making Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years a reality. It’s all set against a great performance of SRV’s hit song ‘Texas Flood.’ These bonuses, partnered with the show’s all-star list of performers and its equally wonderful set list, serve to help make Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years one of this year’s surprise best new live recordings of 2014. It also serves to show yet again why PBS is the last bastion of worthwhile programming on television today.

Austin City Limits has been on television for forty years this year. That is a huge landmark for PBS’ concert series. It has outlived MTV’s Unplugged Series. It has also outlived VH1’s Storytellers and CMT’s Crossroads. In the four decades since it made its debut, ACL has gone from focusing on just one or two genres of music to being one of the preeminent destinations for some of the music industry’s biggest names. Elvis Costello has been on the show. Kings of Leon appeared just last year. And even none other than Nine Inch Nails appeared this year. It just goes to show how much this show has grown since its earliest days as has its importance in the music industry. That is shown just as much in the list of performers tapped to appear on Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years. The list of performers tapped to appear on this recording is a who’s who of the music industry from past, present, and even the future. It includes the likes of Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Foo Fighters, Sheryl Crow, Guy Clarke, Jr., Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Emmylou Harris, and up-and-coming blues/rock band Alabama Shakes and so many others. With such a wide swatch of performers, that list becomes for all intents and purposes a music history lesson live on stage. It shows not only where ACL has been and where it is going but where music itself started and to where it has come today. And every act tapped to perform is an excellent example of both histories. It’s just one of plenty of reasons that audiences will enjoy this DVD.

The list of performers tapped to perform on Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years is itself plenty of reason for audiences to pick up this brand new release from PBS. That list is itself a music history lesson and a lesson on the history of ACL. The performers themselves serve as plenty of reason for any music lover to check out this DVD. The songs that they perform make the recording just as enjoyable if not more so. Audiences will love Willie Nelson’s performance of the classic song ‘On The Road Again,’ and Emmylou Harris’ cover of Willie Nelson’s ‘Crazy.’ If that’s not enough, there is a star-studded, multi-song tribute to Austin, Texas’ own Stevie Ray Vaughan. That tribute features performances from Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and almost every member of the a-list cast of performers. There is also a special tribute to Sam & Dave in the performance of ‘Wrap It Up.’ That song is handled by Bonnie Raitt, Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark, Jr. and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes. As if all of that wasn’t enough, the star-studded tribute to SRV is complemented with an equally gran tribute to Buddy Holly. These are just some of the performances included in the concert that audiences will enjoy in watching this recording. There are plenty of other great performances along the way that audiences will enjoy just as much. Collectively, all of those performances make for yet another wonderful reason for every music lover to see this concert.

If the who’s who list of performers tapped for this concert and their performances aren’t enough for audiences, the bonus material included on the DVD will convince audiences. PBS has included forty-five minutes of performance footage as bonus material on this DVD. That forty-five minutes includes a performance of ‘Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die’ from Willie Nelson and ‘Freight Train’ from Gary Clark, Jr. and Sheryl Crow among the bonus performances. Robert Earl Keen handles ‘I Gotta Go’ and Joe Ely covers ‘All Just To Get To You’ as part of the bonus performances, too. Partnered with that is a special behind-the-scenes look at the concert set against a performance of SRV’s hit song ‘Texas Flood’ by Buddy Guy, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Robert Randolph, and others. It’s a double whammy for audiences. Not only does it give audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the concert from pre-pro to show but it also offers audiences a bonus performance. Audiences are given another bonus performance by Bonnie Raitt and company in their rehearsal for their performance of ‘Wrap it Up.’ It’s a nice finisher to a concert recording has already more than proven itself one of this year’s best. Together with the aforementioned list of performers and set list, it pushes this recording over the top, once again proving why ACL has run so successfully for forty years and why its original studio is now part of music history thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It shows once more why PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.

So much can be said of what makes Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years a success and a total enjoyment. And so much has been said, obviously. It goes without saying that the show’s production values are just as impressive as everything else already noted here. Whether one is taking in the concert on a regular TV or one with a high-priced surround sound home theater system, every viewer will agree that all of the other positives noted here would be nothing without those top notch production values. The concert looks and sounds just as good as other performances recorded over the years. It is that proverbial cherry on top of the musical sundae that is this recording. It is that last part that makes this recording well worth the listen by music lovers of every age.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50214636&cp=&sr=1&kw=austin+city+limits&origkw=Austin+City+Limits&parentPage=search. More information on this and other recordings from Austin City Limits over the years is available online at:

Website: http://acltv.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/acltv

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

PBS Celebrates Four Decades Of ACL With Special Anniversary Concert

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ Austin City Limits hit a major milestone this year.  The network’s hit music series celebrated forty-years with PBS.  In celebration, PBS is releasing a special DVD celebrating the long-running series next month.

PBS will release Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years on Tuesday, December 2nd.  Austin City Limits’ four-decade long run on PBS is especially important to both the network and to music lovers alike.  In the four decades that Austin City Limits has been on PBS, it remains the only TV series to be awarded the Medal of Arts.  Also in that time, MTV’s Unplugged and VH1’s Storytellers have gone by the wayside.  And even CMT’s on Crossroads series has failed to maintain the stability and reputation of ACL.  Throughout its now forty-years on television, ACL has seen and continues to see some of the industry’s biggest names take to the stage.  Those names include the likes of Elvis Costello, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, and so many others.  Many more names are sure to be added to that list as there appears to be no end to this landmark series.

In honor of the series’ fortieth anniversary, many of those same big names have come on board for this celebratory concert.  Bonnie Raitt joins Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark, Jr and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes for a performance of the Sam & Dave classic ‘Wrap It Up’ to open the concert.  Howard returns later in the show alongside Gary Clark, Jr. for a special performance.  Willie Nelson, the red-headed stranger himself, joins Emmylou Harris for a performance of Nelson’s ‘Crazy.’  Singer/actor Kris Kristofferson and Sheryl Crow team up for a performance of Kristofferson’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee.  Foo Fighters even make an appearance to perform Roky Erickson’s ‘Two-Headed Dog.’  That performance was recorded at the original ACL television studio especially for the concert.  Actor Jeff Bridges hosts the night’s festivities.  He also performs a special rendition of ‘What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do’ from the late singer-songwriter Stephen Bruton.  Bruton was a big influence on Bridges’ Oscar-winning role in the movie ‘Crazy Heart.’  As if all of this isn’t enough, Joe Ely and fellow local legend Robert Earl Keen make an appearance.  Blues legend Buddy Guy rounds out the show with a performance of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’  And finishing off the whole thing is a star-studded tribute to Buddy Holly and the one and only Stevie Ray Vaughan.  A who’s who of guitarists performs Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’ and SRV’s ‘Texas Flood’ for the night’s biggest finish.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years was taped live at the ACL Live at the Moody Theater and the show’s original studio, Austin PBS affiliate KLRU’s Studio 6A.  The complete list of performers is: Alabama Shakes, Doyle Bramhall II, Jeff Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Sheryl Crow, Double Trouble, Joe Ely, Mike Farris, Foo Fighters, Grupo Fantasma, Buddy Guy, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jimmie Vaughan.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years will be available Tuesday, December 2nd.  It will retail for MSRP of $24.99.  It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50214636&cp=&sr=1&kw=austin+city+limits&origkw=Austin+City+Limits&parentPage=search.  More information on Austin City Limits is available online at

Website: http://acltv.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/acltv

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

New Skynyrd memoir brings back great music memories

 

The world of rock and roll is rife with stories that are the stuff of legend.  Choose any band from any era, and one will find any number of stories.  Now another band has some of its stories told thanks to its former tour manager in a new book titled, Turn it Up!  The band in question is one Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Turn it Up! was written by Lynyrd Skynyrd’s former tour manager, Ron Eckerman.  In his new memoir, Eckerman tells the story of his time with one of rock’s most famous, and infamous bands.  His book follows the course of his time with the band from his first meeting right to the dark day when the world lost Lynyrd Skynyrd in that horrible plane crash.  One of the book’s funniest memories comes early on in Eckerman’s time with the band.  He writes of how the band teasingly called him Roneckerman just to get under his skin.  He notes how the band would use both his first and last name with no pause in-between.  It was because of the band’s frontman, Ronnie Van Zant.  They were making a joke of another Ron being linked to the band.  Yes, it was entirely juvenile.  But that’s what makes this story so funny.  It shows that the band was just a bunch of grown up kids.

Eckerman also tells readers of the band’s drug and alcohol use throughout its tours, and what is perhaps one of its most outrageous moments when drummer Artimus Pyle actually climbs across the roof of the car he’s riding in, from one side of the car to the other and then gets back in.  If ever there was a memorable moment that is definitely one.  Of course, it’s only a tiny sampling of the unbelievable stories that Eckerman shares with his readers. 

For all the wild and crazy stories that surround Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eckerman does offer readers a softer side to one member of the band, too.  In one instance, he writes of a fishing trip he took with Ronnie Van Zant during some of the band’s downtime.  He notes how Van Zant told him that the serenity of fishing was really what he loved.  It showed that for all the wild and crazy antics of the band, at least one member of the band was in reality, as ordinary and calm as anyone.  It’s kind of like the legends surrounding the likes of Ozzy versus the behind the scenes reality of how he really is.

What is perhaps one of the most interesting moments in the book is another moment between Eckerman and Van Zant.  At one point, Van Zant is alone with Eckerman, and tells him that he’s going to be a father.  Van Zant’s next statement is prophetic in a way.  Eckerman writes that while they’re celebrating the good news, Ronnie told him, “This is gonna change a few things, and we really gotta clean up this band.  Sooner or later somebody’s gonna die.”  The irony of Van Zant’s statement is that it wasn’t drugs and alcohol or the general rock and roll lifestyle that ended Lynryd Skynyrd.  It was the now infamous plane crash that took the life of Van Zant and five others.

The plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens was a dark moment in one era of music history.  The plane crash that ended the original Lynyrd Skynrd was another generation’s dark moment.  Eckerman notes in his book of how he fights with himself to this day on what happened.  On the one hand, he blames himself and friend Peter Rudge for wanting the band to travel by plane.  But then he continues on the other hand, “But I do believe, like Ronnie, that we are in the hands of destiny, and when your number’s up your number is indeed up, so it might have happened regardless of the circumstances.”  What really makes this moment hit home is when Eckerman notes of his friendship with Van Zant, “I lost my closest brother on that flight, closer than my brothers by blood, and an entire family whom I loved dearly.”  That sentiment, combined with his obvious mixed emotions makes for what is arguably the most touching statement in the book.  Here is a man who started out admittedly knowing next to nothing of Lynyrd Skynyrd and hardly being overly fond of its members, but then came to be that close to the band in the end.  It’s the sort of story that is perfect for a big screen adaptation.  It’s enough to make enough the strongest reader tear up.

Whether it be for this story, the stories of wild parties and everything else that went on during his time with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ron Eckerman’s new memoir is a wonderful look behind the scenes of arguably one of the greatest rock bands of all time.  It showed the band’s wild side, and its gentler side.  It’s a piece of rock history that readers and fans alike will enjoy from the first page to the last.