‘Live At Us Festival’ Is Santana’s Third Solid Release So Far This Year

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Studios/Icon Television Music, Inc./Sony Music

Carlos Santana has been in the headlines a lot this year.  He released a new EP in January.  That record ­– In Search of Mona Lisa — was followed up in June, with a new full-length album, Africa Speaks.  Early this month, even more music from Santana saw the light of day with a new archived concert from Shout! Factory, Icon Television Music, Inc. and Sony Music in the form of Live at Us Festival.  Originally recorded Sept. 4, 1982, the vintage recording was released on Blu-ray Sept. 6, almost 37 years to the day after the concert featured in the presentation.  The recording is another welcome presentation for fans of Carlos Santana in part because of its set list, which will be discussed shortly.  The recording’s editing adds to its interest and will be discussed a little later.  The bonus content featured with the recording rounds out its most important elements.  Each item noted here plays its own part in making the concert appealing for Santana fans and music fans alike.  All things considered, they make the recording in whole, one more of this year’s top new live Blu-rays and DVDs.

Carlos Santana’s latest live recording Live at Us Festival is an enjoyable new offering from one of the elder statesmen of the music industry that his fans and music fans alike will enjoy.  That is due in part to the set list featured in this vintage concert recording.  The show’s set list is made up of a total of 13 songs, two of which – ‘Gypsy Queen’ and ‘Marbles’ – are actually part of some two-song collections.  The songs in total show, even then, they wide range of Santana’s talents and his fellow musicians.  The whole thing opens with a performance of the group’s own work, ‘Searchin,’ which is then followed up by the first of the two-part pieces, ‘Black Magic Woman’/’Gypsy Queen.’  What is important to note here is that ‘Black Magic Woman’ was originally composed by peter Green and made famous by Fleetwood Mac.  Fleetwood Mac is a far cry, stylistically, from Santana.  Yet Santana and company made the song their own, and did so impressively at that.  The musicianship of the percussionists – Raul Rekow, Armando Peraza and Orestas Vilat – adds so much to the performance.  The control they have on their respective instruments is astonishing in the best way possible.  Much the same can be said of the trio’s performance during ‘Savor.’  The timbales, guiro and congas really serve as the backbone for the arrangement, which in this case is one of the group’s originals.  The keyboards, handled by Richard Baker, add even more enjoyment to the performance.  This is just one more way in which the set list shines.  Between the group’s own originals and its covers, the whole of the set list makes for a presentation that without any doubt, will keep audiences fully engaged and entertained.  The only down side to the whole thing is the fact that audiences don’t get the band’s whole set in this concert.  Also featured in the concert were performances of the songs ‘Primera Invasion,’ ‘Dealer/’Spanish Rose’ and ‘Soul Sacrifice.’  They were also omitted from the concert’s broadcast on AXS TV.  That aside, what is presented in terms of the set list and performance thereof is enjoyable in its own right.  To that end, it creates a solid foundation for the recording’s whole.

While the concert footage featured in the recording is a key piece of its whole, it is not the recording’s only important element.  The recording’s editing plays into its whole, too. In examining the editing, the most notable aspect thereof is the separation of the recording between its concert and interview segments.  Each performance segment is preceded by an interview segment with Santana that is clearly much more recent than the footage from the concert.  Those breaks from the concert not only serve to help the recording’s pacing, but also to make the overall presentation more personal for viewers.  That is thanks to Santana’s very real and frank commentaries.  Those commentaries tackle a variety of topics, such as his view about the roots of what so many people label as Latin music, “real guitarists vs. not-so-real guitarists,” and the purpose of music.  Those discussions in themselves are just as certain to keep viewers entertained and are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  The bonus extended interviews featured with the recording make for even more interest.

The extended discussions that are featured as bonus content show Santana’s lighter side as he talks about “real guitarists” playing from all throughout inside instead of just their fingers.  He also goes into more depth about his sound and that of his band not really being a signature sound.  That discussion is one of the most enlightening of the discussions.  He also goes into more depth as to his view of how “Latin” music has been mislabeled by the powers that be.  Between these discussions and more, the extended discussion cuts truly are bonuses that are just as worth taking in as the concert’s main footage.  When both elements are considered along with the recording’s editing, the whole of the recording becomes a presentation that Santana’s fans will appreciate just as much as music fans in general.

Live at Us Festival is a positive new offering from Carlos Santana that music lovers across the board will appreciate.  It offers a set list that clearly puts on display the talents of Santana and his fellow musicians and the breadth of the band’s influences.  That in itself makes the concert well worth viewing.  The concert’s editing ensures even more, its appeal for viewers, as it is broken up into varying live and interview segments.  The bonus extended interview cuts that are featured with the recording put the final touch on the recording’s whole.  Each item discussed is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Live at Us Festival one more welcome addition to the music libraries of Santana’s most devoted fans and of audiophiles in general.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

More information on Live at Us Festival is available online now along with all of Carlos Santana’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.santana.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SantanaCarlos

 

 

 

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‘Africa Speaks’ Speaks Volumes About Carlos Santana’s Place In The Music Industry

Courtesy: Concord Records

Ten days.  That is how long it took veteran musician Carlos Santana and his fellow musicians to record their latest recording Africa Speaks.  The album — produced by Rick Rubin — was released June 7 through Concord Records, less than three months after Santana and company released the group’s three-song EP In Search of Mona Lisa.  In the mere weeks that have passed since the record’s release, it has already caused a division among listeners, with fans either loving or hating the recording.  Those who love the record, do so for the same reasons that its detractors have decried the album — the change in the group’s sound this time out.  The traditional Latin percussion sound to which listeners have become so familiar is replaced in large part by more African style drums (which is part of that African theme) and the arrangements are more complex than with past Santana compositions.  Santana himself even takes even more of a backseat than ever to his fellow musicians and guest vocalist Concha Buika, who provides vocals for the majority of the album’s 12 total songs.  The combination of Buika’s vocal talents with the talents of Santana and his fellow musicians goes a long way toward making the album in whole a strong, interesting new offering from the group.  The record’s lead single, ‘Breaking Down The Door.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Los Invisibles,’ does just as much as ‘Breaking Down The Door’ to show the impact of Buika’s talents with those of Santana and company for this record.  It will be addressed a little later.  ‘Blue Skies’ is yet another example of how the combined talents of Concha Buika, Santana and his fellow musicians come together to create an engaging and entertaining recording in Africa Speaks.  When it is considered alongside ‘Breaking Down the Door,’ ‘Los Invisibles’ and the rest of the record’s entries, the album in whole becomes a work that listeners will agree speaks volumes about Carlos Santana and company in the best way possible.

Carlos Santana’s latest full-length studio recording Africa Speaks is a solid new offering from the veteran guitarist and his fellow musicians.  It is a record that speaks volumes about Santana’s place in the grand picture of the music community today.  That is proven in part through the record’s lead single ‘Breaking Down The Door.’  ‘Breaking Down The Door (ft. Buika)’ is a positive first impression from Carlos Santana’s forthcoming album Africa Speaks.  It is everything that audiences have come to expect from the veteran performer and his fellow musicians with its Latin-tinged sound.  The horns, bongos, congas, cabasa, drums and guitar and accordion are expertly balanced throughout the song thanks to the work of famed producer Rick Rubin (Johnny Cash, Run DMC, The Dixie Chicks), who helmed the album.  The song’s early bars create visions of nights in Havana which does somewhat go against the album’s theme of following African influences, but even with that in mind, still sets the song’s stage quite well.  The rest of the composition is certain to keep listeners engaged and entertained as the noted instruments join together for a work in whole that is quite easy on the ears.  It is just one of the song’s notable elements.

The song’s lyrical content is just as worth noting in examining the song as its musical content.  It is sung by famed Grammy®-nominated and Latin Grammy® Spanish artist Concha Buika (pronounced BWEE-KA), who comes in as a guest performer on this track.  Some of the lyrics are slightly difficult to decipher sans lyrics sheet, but enough is understood to realize the story in the song centers on a group of individuals’ relationships.  Buika starts out singing about a woman named Tina.  “Tina was no deceiver/Few were inclined to believe her/She was lucky to marry a rich, rich man/Handsome like Harry/Harry was a charmer/No one believed he would harm her.”  She continues in the song’s second verse, “The wedding was the talk of the town/The girl went down in a long white gown/They said she wanted to marry above her/All she wante was someone to love her/News came first/They called her a liar/Had no sound/Mouth full of wire.”

The story seemingly does not have a happy ending, as Buika sings, “In the end, Tina was buried/By the church where she got married/Tina should have outlived us/Now we pray that she will forgive us/Tina was no deceiver/Few were inclined to believe her.”  It would seem that in hindsight, this is a story about a young woman whose desire to be loved led to her being involved with someone who was not so nice.  It is inferred through the line stating Harry was a charmer and that no one thought he would hurt her, that likely he did in fact hurt her.  He apparently hurt Tina fatally.  One could almost argue that with this in mind, this song is a reminder for people to make sure they know who that other person is before getting completely involved with that person.  It’s hardly the first time that a song, such as this one has ever been presented.  Aerosmith, Garth Brooks and Nickelback are among the many acts who have crafted songs centered on the matter of domestic abuse.  The way in which it has seemingly been tackled here though, is a fresh new take on the topic, and just as certain to resonate with listeners.  That is thanks not just to the story, but the song’s arrangement, too.  Keeping all of this in mind, this song is a positive addition to Africa Speaks and just one of the record’s most notable entries.  ‘Los Invisibles,’ which immediately follows ‘Breaking Down The Door,’ is another example of the impact of Buika’s talents combined with those of Santana and company, and the overall impact of the album.

‘Los Invisibles’ stands out in part because of its musical arrangement.  Unlike ‘Breaking Down The Door,’ this song’s arrangement boasts much more of that African influence in its percussion elements.  At the same time, the use of the guitars and bass adds a bit of a funk vibe to the arrangement.  One could even argue there is a bit of a jazz influence in the song’s arrangement to boot.  That is a lot of different musical genres and styles, but Santana and company being the consummate professionals that they are, the group made those elements join together to make a whole that is undeniably one of the record’s best musical moments.  It is just one part of what makes the song in whole stand out.  The song’s lyrical content couples with its musical arrangement to make the song in whole stand out even more.

According to the English translation provided with the song posted to Santana’s official YouTube channel, the song focuses, lyrically, on a young man talking to his lady love about their forbidden love.  The translation shows the man sings to the woman, “Mari, Mari, Mari, don’t cry/When your mother found out about us/Said that she could not consent our love/Because I don’t have much money.”  The lyrics become rather redundant from here until the song’s finale in which the man sings to the woman, “Good night, miss/We are free like the wind.”  That finale line seems to be a statement of happiness, as if the man does not care what the woman’s mother thinks.  He sings “we are free like the wind,” as if to say “We can do what we want.”  This seeming statement would seem to add more clarity to the feeling in the song’s arrangement.  There is a certain sense of confidence in the arrangement, and considering the subject’s statements, it works well.  While it is another song that seems centered on relationships, it is the exact opposite of the story at the center of ‘Breaking Down The Door.’  In other words, it gives listeners something different to take in both lyrically and musically.  It is just one more of the songs featured in Africa Speaks that shows the record’s strength.  ‘Blue Skies’ is yet another example of the strength of Africa Speaks.

‘Blue Skies’ stands out in part because of its own arrangement, which is a stark contrast to the album’s other songs and even the pair already discussed here.  This song’s arrangement is more of a pure blues piece that also mixes in a touch of jazz.  The addition of Buika’s vocals adds that African element to the song, making the whole yet another of the record’s most notable entries if only for its musical side.  Its musical side is just one part of what makes it stand out, of course.  Its lyrical side adds even more interest to its whole.

The song’s lyrical content presents a message of clarity of mind and positivity.  That is made clear right from the song’s outset as Buika sings, “Don’t call me ‘lost’/That’s not my name/I got my feet on the ground and I see many colors and others/I burn all my loneliness under the ocean/Wash away fears and I/Burn all my loneliness under the ocean.”  She goes on in the song’s second verse, “I’m sending all my love to the blue skies/When light is raining over me/And then I remember the smile of my mama/When she thinks in the eyes of my grandma/When I feel that I’m lost/Don’t’ know where I belong/When a rose make my tears fall down/Nothing better than a blue skies/To cry over my memories.”  She adds, “Oh now there’s a magical shine in the moonlight/that reminds me those mystical moments/I remember that night when we’ve crossed far/that red line.”  She goes on in similar fashion through the rest of the song.  The end result is a song that is loaded with hope and positive vibes.  Those vibes are enhanced through the group’s musical arrangement, which exhibits so much emotion in its own right.  When the whole of the song is considered alongside the whole of the other songs discussed here, the trio proves solidly what makes this record a work that will in fact speak to listeners in the best way possible.  That is even more the case when they are considered alongside the rest of the album’s entries.  All things considered, the album becomes a work that is unquestionably one more of this year’s top new albums overall.

Carlos Santana’s latest full-length studio recording Africa Speaks is a record that speaks loud and clear about Santana’s place (and that of his fellow musicians) in the music industry today.  That is because it is yet another change of pace for the band that mixes elements of the group’s past works while also adding in a new element previously unused in the band’s past works.  The album’s lead single ‘Breaking Down The Door’ uses the band’s more familiar sound to create its own identity while ‘Los Invisibles’ adds more of the noted African element previously unused in Santana’s past records.  At the same time, it tells its own interesting story through its lyrical content.  ‘Blue Skies’ continues to present the positive vibes for which the band has been known throughout its life.  That is both in the song’s musical arrangement and its lyrical content.  Keeping this in considering along with the positives of the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s entries, the end result is a record that is just as strong as anything that Santana and company have ever released previously.  It is a record that says loud and clear, Carlos Santana and company are still among the music industry’s elite acts.  Africa Speaks is available now.  More information on Africa Speaks is available online now along with all of the latest news and more from Carlos Santana at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.santana.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SantanaCarlos

 

 

 

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 in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Carlos Santana Speaks Volumes With His New LP’s Latest Single

Courtesy: Concord Records

Early this year, famed guitarist Carlos Santana and his band released a new EP to the world in the form of In Search of Mona Lisa.  While an enjoyable record in its own right, that five song (technically three-song, since two of its songs are just radio edits of two of the three originals) sadly was not as timeless as the famed painting, which was reportedly the inspiration for the EP’s originals.  That is because of those radio edits.  This summer, Santana will follow-up the release of In Search of Mona Lisa with a new full-length studio recording titled Africa Speaks.  Research into the 11-song record reveals its release date as June 7.  In anticipation of the album’s release, its debut single and album opener, ‘Breaking Down the Door (ft. Buika)’ is set to hit radio stations nationwide May 5.  The song is everything that audiences have come to expect from Santana and company in terms of its musical arrangement, which will be addressed shortly.  The song’s lyrical content is just as easily accessible as the song’s musical content, and will be addressed a little later.  Each item noted here plays its own important part to the whole of ‘Breaking Down The Door (ft. Buika).’  All things considered, they make the song a strong first impression for Santana’s new LP, and hopefully not the only positive part of the forthcoming album.

‘Breaking Down The Door (ft. Buika)’ is a positive first impression from Carlos Santana’s forthcoming album Africa Speaks.  It is everything that audiences have come to expect from the veteran performer and his fellow musicians with its Latin-tinged sound.  The horns, bongos, congas, cabasa, drums and guitar and accordion are expertly balanced throughout the song thanks to the work of famed producer Rick Rubin (Johnny Cash, Run DMC, The Dixie Chicks), who helmed the album.  The song’s early bars create visions of nights in Havana which does somewhat go against the album’s theme of following African influences, but even with that in mind, still sets the song’s stage quite well.  The rest of the composition is certain to keep listeners engaged and entertained as the noted instruments join together for a work in whole that is quite easy on the ears.  It is just one of the song’s notable elements.  The song’s lyrical content is just as worth noting in examining the song as its musical content.

The song’s lyrical content is sung by famed Grammy®-nominated and Latin Grammy® Spanish artist Buika (pronounced BWEE-KA), who comes in as a guest performer on this track.  Some of the lyrics are slightly difficult to decipher sans lyrics sheet, but enough is understood to realize the story in the song centers on a group of individuals’ relationships.  Buika starts out singing about a woman named Tina.  “Tina was no deceiver/Few were inclined to believe her/She was lucky to marry a rich, rich man/Handsome like Harry/Harry was a charmer/No one believed he would harm her.”  She continues in the song’s second verse, “The wedding was the talk of the town/The girl went down in a long white gown/They said she wanted to marry above her/All she wante was someone to love her/News came first/They called her a liar/Had no sound/Mouth full of wire.”

The story seemingly does not have a happy ending, as Buika sings, “In the end, Tina was buried/By the church where she got married/Tina should have outlived us/Now we pray that she will forgive us/Tina was no deceiver/Few were inclined to believe her.”  It would seem that in hindsight, this is a story about a young woman whose desire to be loved led to her being involved with someone who was not so nice.  It is inferred through the line stating Harry was a charmer and that no one thought he would hurt her, that likely he did in fact hurt her.  He apparently hurt Tina fatally.  One could almost argue that with this in mind, this song is a reminder for people to make sure they know who that other person is before getting completely involved with that person.  It’s hardly the first time that a song, such as this one has ever been presented.  Aerosmith, Garth Brooks and Nickelback are among the many acts who have crafted songs centered on the matter of domestic abuse.  The way in which it has seemingly been tackled here though, is a fresh new take on the topic, and just as certain to resonate with listeners.  That is thanks not just to the story, but the song’s arrangement, too.  Keeping all of this in mind, this song is a positive first impression for Africa Speaks and hopefully just one of many more positive impressions to come from the album.

Carlos Santana is set to launch a tour in support of Africa Speaks April 22 in Nashville, TN.  The tour is set to run through Nov. 10 and will include an extensive residency in Las Vegas, NV as well as performances in cities, such as Charlotte, NC; Phoenix, AZ and Los Angeles, CA.  The tour’s schedule is available online now along with another of the Africa Speaks‘ singles, ‘Los Invisibles’ and all of Carlos Santana’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.santana.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SantanaCarlos

 

 

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.

‘In Search Of Mona Lisa’ Is Enjoyable, But Leaves Listeners In Search Of More

Courtesy: Concord Records

It goes without saying that Carlos Santana is one of the greatest musicians in the modern history of music.  He has crafted countless hit songs that have led to just as many awards and garnered just as many fans around the world.  Late last month, Santana continued that ongoing success – sort of — with the release of his new EP In Search of Mona Lisa.  The record is enjoyable, but honestly, it does leaving one wanting for more, and not in a good way.  That is not to say that the record is a complete loss.  It does have some positives, one of which being the three original tracks that make up the majority of the 27-minute record.  They will be discussed shortly.  The other two songs featured on the record’s back side are the record’s most prominent negative.  They will be discussed a little bit later.  The EP’s other positive is its sequencing.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of In Search of Mona Lisa.  All things considered, they make this record its own enjoyable work of musical art, but not his most memorable work of musical art.

In Search of Mona Lisa is an interesting new offering from veteran guitarist and composer Carlos Santana.  While not his greatest work to date, it is not an entirely forgettable work.  That is thanks in part to the three original songs that make up the majority of the EP’s body.  Those three songs are ‘Do You Remember Me,’ ‘In Search of Mona Lisa’ and ‘Leaves From Another Time.’  What makes this trio of compositions stand out more than anything is their arrangements.  The first work is classic Carlos Santana.  It is a nine-minute-plus opus that while yes it conjures thoughts of the classic work ‘Guantanamera’ in its guitar line, the song’s overall composition is what makes it stand out.  It starts out so gently and relaxed, gradually adding in an extra layer approximately five minutes into the song with vocals and plenty of familiar Latin percussion (cabasa, bongos, congas, timbales and shaker) and subtle piano line.  Vocals and a bass line join in gradually, too, to make the song in whole a work that will have any listener dancing along happily.

The EP’s title track follows, and is quite different stylistically from ‘Do You Remember Me.’ This track, which barely tops the five-minute mark, sounds more akin to something that belongs on a Joe Bonamassa record than Santana.  That is evident through Santana’s infectious bluesy guitar line and the gritty vocal performance presented this time out.  Not having liner notes to reference, this critic cannot say for certain who the vocalist is, though it is certain that it is not Joe Bonamassa.  That aside, the distinctly different approach to this song’s arrangement versus that of ‘Do You Remember Me’ makes for a welcome change of pace that is certain to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  The song’s lyrical content is just as certain to keep listeners engaged, as the vocalist sings, “All the women of the world/Ain’t got nothin’ on her/When I stood in front of her/Lookin’ eye to eye/She said to me/Do you remember/When we were lovers/In another time/Here we are again/I can feel you heart/Deep in time with mine/Oh, it’s eternal love/I was searching/My Mona Lisa/My Mona Lisa.”  While it is said that this EP was centered on Santana’s interaction with the famed Mona Lisa portrait in Paris, this song obviously is about another Mona Lisa.  That adds even more interest to the song, and in turn shows even more why the EP’s main songs are so important to its whole.

While ‘Do You Remember Me’ and ‘In Search of Mona Lisa’ are both clear examples of why this EP’s primary songs are so important to the record’s overall presentation, they are not its only key compositions.  ‘Lovers From Another Time,’ the third and final original offering featured in In Search of Mona Lisa stands out in large part because of its own arrangement.  This work takes Santana’s familiar Latin sound and crosses it with an old-school 1960s lounge jazz style arrangement for a whole that is quite the surprisingly interesting work.  On the surface, one might not think such a hybrid composition would work, but it certainly does work here.  That is evidenced in the juxtaposition of Santana’s fiery guitar work and the subtlety of the piano and strings.  The drumming here is just as fiery as Santana’s work, with strong fills and solid time keeping throughout.  The result of the whole presents a sound that one could argue is a sort of fusion jazz arrangement.  Again, it is a change-up that keeps the record interesting and engaging for listeners.  When this work is considered along with its predecessors, the whole of these three songs creates a strong foundation for In Search of Mona Lisa.

While the three primary songs featured in In Search of Mona Lisa give the record a strong foundation, the two songs that follow make that same foundation a little bit shaky.  That is because despite the marketing from the people at Concord Records they are not original works.  Rather, they are essentially just radio edits of the EP’s first two songs.  The edit of ‘Do You Remember Me’ is a time-edited piece that opens where the vocals kick in during the original work.  In other words, the instrumental portion of the original is completely omitted here in this edit.  The edit of ‘In Search of Mona Lisa’ is more subtle, with the variances more difficult to notice, but it is cut back by almost a minute and a half in terms of its run time.  That means that plenty of content has been omitted from this cut in comparison to the final presentation.  Now on the one hand, it can be argued that adding these two edits to the EP is good because it creates more appreciation for the “final cuts.”  At the same time though, the variances between the edits and the originals are so minute that in reality, the edits become inconsequential, and in turn unnecessary.  Audiences have already spoken out, and correctly so, that it would have been better to have had two more original songs featured in the record than the two edits.  At least the people in Santana’s camp have finally stopped alleging the EP has five new songs, and pointed out that it only has three new songs.  Either way, at least audiences have the edits for the sake of comparison, if nothing more.  To that end, the record still could have gone just as easily without the edits as with.

While the songs featured in In Search of Mona Lisa are clearly key in their own way to the whole of the EP, they are just part of the record that should be examined.  The record’s sequencing plays into its presentation, too.  As already noted, the three primary songs that make up the bulk of this record are each stylistically different from one another.  That alone keeps the EP interesting.  Keeping in mind the songs’ stylistic variances, their energies are just as varied.  ‘Do You Remember Me’ is a relaxed, casual piece that moves along smoothly from start to finish of the more than nine-minute opus.  The relaxed vibe of that arrangement gives way immediately to the more upbeat vibe of the EP’s title track, which is just as danceable as the EP’s opener.  From there, the EP’s energy pulls back again with ‘Lovers From Another Time.’  This song’s arrangement returns the record’s energy back to that smooth, subtle feel presented in the record’s opener, letting listeners relax yet again.  The up and down of the energies here shows clearly that certain time and thought was put into the record’s sequencing.  It shows that the EP’s creative forces wanted to insure listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  That attention to detail paid off, too.  Keeping that in mind along with the songs’ arrangements, the two elements do plenty to make the EP a welcome offering from Carlos Santana, but certainly a work that leaves listeners wanting for more.

Carlos Santana’s latest studio recording, the five-song EP In Search of Mona Lisa is an enjoyable new offering from the veteran musician and composer.  However, it is also a record that leaves listeners in search of more from the world-renowned guitarist.  That is due to the two edits that are featured alongside the EP’s three original works.  Those original works, and their sequencing go collectively a long way toward the EP’s enjoyment.  Considered along with the issue of the edits, the EP in whole proves to be enjoyable, but not one of his greatest works of musical art.  In Search of Mona Lisa is available now.  More information on the record is available online now along with all of Santana’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.santana.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SantanaCarlos

 

 

 

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.

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

 

 

 

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.

‘Santana IV Live’ Is One Of 2016’s Top New Live Recordings If Not The Year’s Best

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Earlier this year, veteran guitarist Carlos Santana and his fellow musicians released what is one of the most anticipated albums of the past forty years in the form of Santana IV.  The album, released April 15th, it more than lived up to its expectations.  And now the band has followed up the album’s release with what is an equally impressive live recording supporting that album in the form of Santana IV: Live at The House of Blues Las Vegas. This new live recording is available now in stores and online.  It is a wonderful experience for those who were not able to experience the group’s live show during its most recent tour.  That is due in no small part to the show’s extensive 24-song set list.  That will be discussed shortly.  The band’s stage presence throughout the course of the two and a half hour concert is just as important to note of its presentation. Last but most hardly least of note in its presentation is the companion booklet included with the recording.  Of course one could even argue that the recording’s variety of platforms and its related packaging in said platforms are both important, too.  Considering all of these positions it is safe to say that Santana IV: Live at The House of Blues Las Vegas is one of this year’s top new live recordings if not the year’s top new live recording.

Santana IV: Live at The House of Blues Las Vegas is one of this year’s top new live recordings if not the year’s top new live recording.  That is because of the number of positives that it boasts.  Those positives begin with the concert’s set list.  The 24-song set list lifts liberally from Santana’s latest full-length studio recording and from all three of the band’s original albums.  A little more than half of the set list is made up of songs from Santana IV to be precise.  Simply put, all but three songs featured in Santana IV are included in this set list.  All three classic Santana albums represented in the show’s set list are equally represented too, with the band’s debut album being represented by no fewer than three songs and the next two records—Abraxas and Santana III—getting no fewer than four nods each.  As if that isn’t enough, Eagle Rock Entertainment made perfectly clear on the recording’s packaging how the set list was divided up – at least to a point.  Even as minor as that might be to the recording’s presentation even it is important to note, because of the time that it saves audiences in trying to find out which albums were represented here.  That is just one way in which the set list proves to be so important to the recording’s set list.  The songs that are featured here could easily be argued to be a way to introduce and re-introduce fans to the band.  For more seasoned fans, it serves as a great way to re-introduce them to this incredible act.  For younger fans who are less familiar with the band’s body of work, representing those three albums right next to its latest album serves to exhibit the band’s roots and to educate those fans about the band’s history at the same time.  Keeping this in mind it becomes especially clear why the set list presented here is so important to the recording’s presentation.  Even with all of its importance, the concert’s set list is not its only key element.  The band’s stage presence throughout its two and a half hour concert is just as important to note here as the songs that the group performs.

The songs that make up the body of this recording’s set list are important in their own right to the recording’s presentation.  That is due to the fact that the set list serves at least a dual purpose.  Even as important as the show’s set list is to its presentation it is not the presentation’s only key element.  The band’s stage presence throughout the concert is just as important to note as the show’s set list.  From beginning to end, Santana and his fellow musicians let their performances do the talking for them.  The ease with which drummer Michael Schrieve switches between traditional and matched grip in each song is incredible to behold.  The man misses not a single beat at any point.  The passion exhibited by both Carlos Santana and Neal Schon as they make their way through each song, regardless of who takes the lead, is just as inspiring to see.  The duo of Michael Carabello and Karl Perazo on backing percussion adds its own flare to the group’s presence throughout.  The pair’s love for its craft translates just as well on screen as that presented by the rest of the musicians on stage.  That is due to the energy that is displayed by each man as he drives each song forward.  From one musician to the next, every member of this organization displays such a solid presence throughout the performance.  Its presence is so solid that it feels that there is nothing left to give by the show’s end.  That will leave home audiences feeling just as fulfilled as the audience that was in attendance at the show’s recording.  It should be obvious by now why the band’s stage presence is just as important to note in examining this recording’s presentation as the show’s set list.  It still is not the recording’s last notable element.  The companion booklet is just as important to note here as the concert’s set list and the band’s performance thereof.

The set list that makes up the body of Santana IV: Live at The House of Blues Las Vegas and the band’s performance of that set list are both key elements to note in examining the recording’s presentation. Each element proves equal to the other in its importance to the recording’s presentation.  While each element is important in its own way to the recording, there are still plenty of other elements that can be noted, not the least of which is the companion booklet included in the recording.  The booklet is so important to note due to the liner notes presented therein.  The liner notes, composed by Hal Miller, outline the band’s history and lead up to the band’s performance at The House of Blues Las Vegas.  Miller’s notes are thorough to say the least in regards to the band’s history.  They serve as yet another wonderful way to teach young audiences about the band.  The closing remarks about the band’s performance are just as enlightening as those that outline the band’s history.  That is because it really brings the band’s story full circle.  If any one thing can be said to the negative about the liner notes, it is that it would have been great to see even more notes about the concert itself in place of the performance photos that are also included in the booklet.  That aside, Miller’s notes are still a wonderful addition to the overall concert experience for audiences in this presentation regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Santana.  Keeping that in mind, the liner notes presented in the recording’s companion booklet couple with the show’s set list and the band’s performance of that set list to paint a picture that exhibits vividly why this recording is so enjoyable.  Even with all of this in mind, these three elements are still not all that one could note. The varied platforms on which the concert is available and the packaging of each platform is just as important to note.  All things considered, Santana IV: Live at The House of Blues Las Vegas proves to be one of this year’s best new live recordings, if not the year’s best.

Santana IV: Live at The House of Blues is one of 2016’s top new live recordings if not the year’s best new live recording.  That is because there is so much to say to the positive about this recording’s presentation.  Its set list entertains and educates all at the same time.  The band’s performance will keep audiences of all ages completely enthralled and engaged from beginning to end.  That is because of the passion displayed by each musician for his craft and his love for performing with his band mates.  Hal Miller’s liner notes presented in the concert’s companion booklet serve as a secondary education of sorts right next to the show’s set list.  That adds even more to the concert’s overall experience for home audiences.  When one adds in the varied platforms on which the concert is made available and their respective packaging, the concert’s overall presentation is solidified in whole.  Each element is important in its own right.  That should be obvious by now.  All things considered, Santana IV: Live at The House of Blues Las Vegas proves wholly to be one of this year’s top new live recordings if not the year’s best.  More information on this recording is available online now along with all of Carlos Santana’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.santana.com

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

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online 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 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.

Santana Teams With Eagle Rock Entertainment For New Live Recording

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment has partnered with Carlos Santana once again for another new live recording from the veteran guitarist.

Santana IV: Live at the House of Blues, Las Vegas will be released Friday, October 21st in stores and online.  It will be released on DVD + 2CD combo pack, Blu-ray + 2CD combo pack, and digital formats.  The concert presented in the new release was recorded March 21st, 2016 at the House of Blues, Las Vegas.  It features the classic Santana lineup – the same lineup that recorded Santana IV, which was released this past April.

The recording features performances of songs from Santana IV and classic hits from the original Santana lineup’s first three albums.  That set list includes the likes of ‘Jingo,’ ‘Soul Sacrifice,’ ‘Samba Pa Ti,’ ‘Black Magic Woman,’ ‘Evil Ways,’ ‘Oye Como Va,’ ‘Everybody’s Everything’ and many others.  The full set list for the recording is noted below.

 

TRACK LISTING

1) Soul Sacrifice

2) Jingo

3) Evil Ways

4) Everybody’s Everything

5) Shake It

6) Anywhere You Want To Go

7) Medley: Choo Choo / All Aboard

8) Samba Pa Ti

9) Medley: Batuka / No One To Depend On

10) Leave Me Alone

11) Sueño

12) Caminando

13) Medley: Blues Magic / Echizo

14) Come As You Are

15) Yambu

16) Medley: Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen / Oye Como Va

17) Medley: Love Makes The World Go Round (w/ Ronald Isley)

18) Freedom In Your Mind (w/ Ronald Isley)

19) Toussaint L’Overture

Along with the concert’s main feature, Eagle Rock Entertainment has included interviews with the band’s members as bonus material.

The recording is available now for pre-order on DVD + 2CD combo pack and Blu-ray + 2CD combo pack.  Audiences can check out a preview of ‘Oye Como Va’ online now here before the concert is released.

More information on Santana IV: Live at the House of Blues, Las Vegas is available online now along with all of Santana’s latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.santana.com

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

 

 

 

More information on this 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.