Chiklis To Release His Debut Album Next Month

Courtesy: Missing Piece Group

Courtesy: Missing Piece Group

Actor Michael Chiklis is trying his hand at being a singer.

Chiklis (The Shield, Fantastic Four 1 & 2), announced recently that he will release his debut album Influence on Friday, September 16th.  The album features guest appearances from Steve Lukather (Toto), Andres Forero (Hamilton), Scott Healy, Richie “La Bamba” Rosenberg, and Jerry Vivino (from Conan O’Brien’s house band).  The album was written and produced at Chiklis’ own Extravaganza Music Studio.

In anticipation of his new album Chiklis is streaming the album’s lead single ‘In Front Of Your Eyes’ now. Audiences can hear the song, which features guest vocals from Lukather, here.

Along with his new project, Chiklis is also currently starring on Fox’s hit drama Gotham as Gotham City Police Department Captain Nathaniel Barnes.  The series’ third season premieres September 19th on Fox.

More information on Michael Chiklis’ new album is available online now along with all of his latest news at https://www.facebook.com/Michael-Chiklis-104897092884829/.

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Putumayo’s Latest Collection Is A Must Have For Any Lover Of Latin Music

Courtesy:  Putumayo World Music

Courtesy: Putumayo World Music

Putumayo is one of the most well-known and respected labels in the world music community.  It has been introducing listeners to great sounds from around the world for more than two decades.  And late this summer the label, which is in this critic’s eyes (and ears) one of the leading labels in the world music community, proved yet again why it is such a highly revered company when it released its latest collection of songs Vintage Latino.  Vintage Latino is one of the best of this year’s new crop of offerings within the realm of world music.  The twelve-track record is a virtual musical love letter to a bygone era; a simpler era.  It instantly transports listeners back to that time and leaves them yearning for that era.  It’s just one part of what makes this collection so enjoyable.  It will be discussed shortly.  The history lesson of sorts that is provided in the pages of the compilation’s companion booklet adds to its overall effect.  Listeners learn about the acts featured across the disc and the various musical styles that each played along with even more interesting historical tidbits.  In direct connection to the history provided to listeners through the collection’s companion booklet, Putumayo adds to the vintage effect by adding in a recipe for an actual Borrego Mojito in the back of the booklet for older listeners.  For those that aren’t familiar with the history of the mojito in general, it is a drink that originated in Cuba.  It has grown and is presented in a number of variations today including the Berrigo Mojito, which in many cases includes a slice of grapefruit.  In the case of this recipe, the grapefruit is replaced with a slice of lime.  All three noted elements are equally important in their own right to the overall success and enjoyment of Vintage Latino.  Altogether, they make this collection one that any true Latin music aficionado should have in his or her own music library.

Putumayo’s latest Latin music collection Vintage Latino is a compilation that every true Latin music aficionado should have in his or her own music library.  The main reason that it is such a must have and hear is its presented songs.  Twelve classic Latin tunes are presented across the course of the record’s forty-minute run time.  The central aspect of the songs that makes them so enjoyable is the very fact that they will instantly transport listeners back to a bygone era of music; a simpler time.  If listeners just close their eyes and let themselves take in the music, they can see those old night clubs that dotted the Cuban streets way back in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s with their elaborately painted and decorated halls and dance floors, the candlelit tables, and waiters in their finest outfits, and bands up on stage entertaining everyone.  There are also images of small groups of musicians playing on the streets.  Considering the number of Latin music albums and compilations available to listeners today, few of said collections are able to create such a welcome sense of nostalgia.  On another level, the songs introduce listeners to a handful of different musical styles that exist within the realm of Latin music.  Those musical styles include the bolero, danson-cha, son, and others.  They make for a good starting point for any music theory and more specifically college level Latin music class. This is just one of a number of reasons that Vintage Latino is well worth the listen by any fan of Latin music. The history lesson of sorts included through the collection’s companion booklet adds even more reason for Latin music fans to check out this new release.

The companion booklet included in Putumayo’s new Latin music collection is just as important to its overall presentation as the music itself. That is because it isn’t just a bunch of liner notes assembled to fill out the booklet. Rather listeners get a history lesson of sorts. Each of the compilation’s songs is accompanied in the collection’s booklet by a brief yet concise history on said songs and those that recorded and performed them. And there is a lot of interesting material contained within the pages of the booklet. For instance, there is mention of the influence of Tito Puente’s big band on Republique Democratique Du Mambo in crafting its sound, including that featured in the song ‘Cha Cha Cha Para Ti.’ Just as interesting is the history of Trio Zamora’s ‘Chinita.’ Listeners will learn in regards to this song that if not for the efforts of a pair of Jewish immigrants, it might have been lost to history along with so many other of the trio’s compositions. There is an equally rich history behind ‘Besame Mucho,’ which is one of the most well-known Latin compositions in the modern history of music. It is just one more example of why the history presented within the pages of Vintage Latino’s is just as important to the record’s overall presentation as the songs that make up the body of the record. Together, both elements give listeners a full, rich experience that every listener will enjoy and appreciate. They still are not all that makes the overall presentation that is Vintage Latino so enjoyable. Putumayo has added an interesting bonus to the overall presentation in the form of a Borrego Mojito recipe for older listeners in the back of the booklet. It rounds out the reasons that listeners will like this latest LP from Putumayo.

The music and history that make up the body of Vintage Latino are both equally important reasons for Latin music fans to add this latest collection from Putumayo. While both are of equal importance, they are not all that make the overall presentation so impressive. The bonus Borrego Mojito recipe included in the back of the collection’s booklet rounds out the presentation. While it doesn’t include a history of the mojito or its many variants–the mojito was in fact born in Cuba sometime in the 1500s—the very fact that one of the classic cocktail’s variants has been included here is in itself an interesting addition to the compilation. After making the drink, which often features a slice of grapefruit (the grapefruit has been replaced by a slice of lime here) audiences can turn on this record and feel even more like they have been transported to those old Cuban clubs that originally made the songs featured here so beloved. Together with the songs in question and their companion histories presented within the pages of the record’s booklet, the presentation in whole proves to be a wonderful new collection from one of the leading names in world music and a collection that every Latin music aficionado will want to have in his or her own home music library.

Vintage Latino offers lovers of Latin music so much to enjoy. It offers twelve classic songs that collectively make this record come across as a love letter to the era in which they were originally recorded and to the songs themselves. The companion histories that accompany the songs add even more interest and enjoyment to the record. The Borrego Mojito recipe featured in the back of the record’s booklet rounds out the whole experience. Sitting down to enjoy this variant on the classic cocktail, which itself was born in Cuba, while listening to the record’s featured songs makes for a listening experience that will make listeners feel completely as if they have been transported back to that great time and place. The experience in whole will leave listeners agreeing that Vintage Latino is a must have for any true lover of Latin music. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Putumayo’s online store at http://www.putumayo.com/shop/vintage-latino/. More information on this and other titles from Putumayo is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.putumayo.com

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

 

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Eagle Rock Releases Details Of New Elton John Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Officials with Eagle Rock Entertainment announced Wednesday that the company will release a new live recording from Elton John this summer.

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release The Million Dollar Piano on Tuesday, July 1st. The concert will be released to Blu-ray and DVD. It was originally recorded over multiple nights in 2013 during Elton John’s residency at The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. The famed pianist’s show has been running since September 2011. The latest leg of stint spanned sixteen shows from March 29th to April 26th, 2014. The concerts are a key collective point in John’s decades-long business relationship with Yamaha pianos.

The primary song list on both the DVD and Blu-ray presentation includes nineteen of John’s greatest hits. Among those songs are the likes of: ‘Crocodile Rock’, ‘Rocket Man’, ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues’, ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, ‘Circle of Life’, ‘Blue Eyes’, ‘Bennie and the Jets’, ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’, ‘Philadelphia Freedom’, ‘I’m Still Standing’ and a number of others. Also included in the overall presentation are four songs that were recorded during a 2012 performance in Kiev. Those songs are: ‘Candle in the Wind’, ‘Sacrifice’, ‘Sad Songs (Say So Much)’, and ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.’ There is also a bonus documentary featurette included on both the DVD and Blu-ray titled “The Making of the Million Dollar Piano.”

The Million Dollar Piano won’t cost fans a million dollars. The Blu-ray will retail for SRP of $19.98. The DVD will retail for SRP of $14.98. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eagle-rock.com, http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt, and http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews. Fans can keep up with all the latest news from Elton John online at http://www.eltonjohn.com, http://www.facebook.com/EltonJohn and http://twitter.com/eltonjohndotcom. 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.

Rainbow Live Re-Issue A Welcome Return For A New Generation Of Audiences

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Long live Eagle Rock Entertainment.  That’s what fans of classic rock group Rainbow will be saying after experiencing the band’s newly re-issued recording, Live in Munich 1977.  This classic concert was originally released to DVD in 2006.  Now seven years later, it’s available once again for a whole new generation of purist rock and roll fans to enjoy.  And it goes without saying that this is quite the performance.  It is available now on DVD, 2CD, digital audio and digital video, and even vinyl for older audiences with a certain sense of nostalgia. 

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records

The classic lineup of Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple), Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath, Dio), Bob Daisley (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Dio, Uriah Heep)  and Cozy Powell (The Jeff Beck Group, Whitesnake, ELP, Black Sabbath, etc.) came together for what is one of the single most epic concerts of this band’s career.  It’s also the only full live show ever filmed that featured this lineup.  And what a show it was.  It is yet more evidence of everything that once was right with rock and roll.  This is not just some rock and roll concert.  Rainbow Live in Munich 1977 is a rock and roll experience.  The show’s shortest song is four minutes and forty-two seconds long.  The longest comes in at a whopping twenty-seven minutes and thirty-three seconds.  So it is not for those with short attention spans.  The songs in between are hardly short, either.  And that is perfectly fine.  The audio (CD/Digital audio) portion makes for great driving music for classic rock fans, especially with the weather having turned warm.  The video portion (DVD/Digital video) is just as enjoyable to pop into one’s DVD/Blu-ray player.  Those with home theater systems will especially appreciate the surround sound experience of this show. 

Speaking of the overall concert experience one would be remiss to ignore the overall performance presented by Rainbow in this recorded concert.  Both Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio showed why they were and are two of the most respected individuals in the music community to this day.  RJD no longer being with us, this concert serves as a testament to his vocal abilities, even though his vocals are somewhat overpowered by the rest of the band at times.  When he cuts through though, RJD really cuts through and shows why he remains one of the best singers in the rock business today.  Blackmore’s chops on the guitar are second to none throughout the show.  This is especially the case on the anthem, ‘Love Live Rock ‘n’ Roll.’  He and the rest of the band put on a virtual clinic with this song that was brand new at that point.  It’s such a simple song.  Yet somehow, Blackmore with his solos and Cozy Powell with his solid time keeping make this one of the show’s highest of highs.  On a side note, seeing Cozy Powell playing with the traditional grip is just as incredible.  When one thinks of drummers using the traditional grip, the most common association made is with jazz, not so much rock music.  There are those that did and do today.  But their numbers are few.  So for the drumming community, this, along with Powell’s solid time keeping makes the performance even more enjoyable. It’s just one of so many examples that could be pulled from the show that make it such a joy to experience whether one is hearing Rainbow for the first time or fiftieth.

Rainbow showed that it could really bring down the house with a number such as ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll.’  It also showed its versatility on the equally bluesy ‘Man on the Silver Mountain.’  This sixteen-minute plus opus had its own slower jam session moment that is just as incredible as anything that any of today’s blues musicians could churn out.  It’s also one of the moments when RJD really got the opportunity to showcase his powerhouse vocals.  And did he ever?  His vocals soar on this performance.  And even after this song ended Dio showed again why he was and is one of rock’s best front men.  Here was this larger than life figure.  Yet on stage, he seemed so down to Earth and so humble.  Seeing the rapport that he had with the audience in comparison to the myth surrounding him is so eye opening and refreshing.  He shows that he was a rock star’s rock star.  He showed he didn’t have an ego and that he appreciated having the chance to do what he did; even more proof of the importance of RJD as an artist.  And the band fed off of that energy, too, making this whole concert such a joy to look back on.

The concert contained on the DVD and double-disc CD are both wonderful additions to the home library of any classic rock fan or any fan of pure, guitar driven rock music.  This latest re-issue boasts more than just a concert though.  Adding to the overall enjoyment of the performance are bonus interviews with Bob Daisley and Colin Hart, as well as an interesting recording of the band performing in Texas the year prior.  The interviews with Daisley and Hart are entertaining to say the least.  During his interview, Daisley tells an anecdote about going driving with one of the other band members.  This little story is sure to make for some laughs.  He also tells his side of how the band came to be and much more.  What else is discussed, audiences will have to find out for themselves when they pick up the DVD.  Hart’s interview is just as entertaining, and at other times candid.  This is especially the case when he is asked to share his thoughts on drummer Cozy Powell.  It’s obvious in hearing him talk that this was a difficult topic to touch on.  Fans will take away a lot from this and Hart’s other thoughts on fellow band member Ronnie James Dio, as well as his thoughts on the band’s success and other topics. 

If the bonus interviews aren’t enough for fans, then maybe the bonus promo videos and the included booklet in the DVD package will impress audiences, too.  The booklet included in the DVD outlines the history of Rainbow from its formation to the replacement of Dio, Daisley, and Stone.  It’s just one more extra piece that fills this small package with so much to appreciate.  The bonus videos included in this recording are actual full performances of the songs ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’, ‘Gates of Babylon’, and ‘L.A. Connection.’  They aren’t just little snippets of the songs.  If all of this set alongside an already impressive full live performance isn’t enough for fans, then fans that don’t appreciate everything included here either don’t have a pulse or aren’t real fans to begin with.  Keeping this in mind, this latest re-issue is one more incredibly jam packed live release that is more than worth every watch.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online from the Eagle Rock Entertainment website at http://www.eagle-rock.com/product/EV306049/Live+in+Munich.

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No Mystery About It: The Great Mouse Detective Is A Fun Family Movie

Courtesy: Disney Home Entertainment

Everybody knows the name and face of Mickey Mouse.  The iconic figure has been the face of Disney since his creation.  And he’s still the most famous animal figure in the movie world to this day.  As famous as Mickey might be, he isn’t the only mouse to grace the silver screen in the annals of Disney’s movie history.  Next to Mickey and Minnie, most audiences probably instantly think back to Bernard and Miss Bianca A.K.A. The Rescuers.  There is at least one more mouse whose name is likely less prominent in audiences’ minds when asked about famous Disney figures.  That mouse is none other than Basil of Baker Street.

Basil is the mouse counterpart to author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed detective, Sherlock Holmes.  He’s the star of Disney’s 1986 animated feature, The Great Mouse Detective.  The Great Mouse Detective has never enjoyed the popularity of The Rescuers or of any of Mickey Mouse’s adventures.  But it’s still a fun movie for any fan of mysteries.  One factor that makes The Great Mouse Detective enjoyable is the understanding of how much work went into bringing this film to life.  While it’s somewhat short, the bonus “making of” featurette contains some information that will make for a new appreciation for this story.  In that same vein, the work that went into bringing The Great Mouse Detective to life included making a believable story and equally believable characters.  All of this combined makes it a movie that deserves more attention and credit than what it has gotten in the almost three decades since its debut.

The new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack re-issue of The Great Mouse Detective includes a short bonus “Making of” featurette pointing out that it took four years for this movie to come to life.  It goes on to point out that a major reason (of not the reason) was the combination of computer based graphics and hand drawn animation.  This movie was the first ever in which Disney actually used computer graphics to any extent.  As viewers will see in the bonus feature, a lot of work was put into making the final conflict between Basil and Ratigan happen.  The feature points out that the clockworks inside Big Ben were created largely by computer.  That meant taking extensive lengths in order to mix the CG and hand drawn animation without losing the film’s integrity.  The animators behind this mix and the rest of the movie’s animation are to be commended for the work put into making this happen.

The animators behind The Great Mouse Detective went into painstaking detail in order to make its animation stand out.  So did the writers responsible for making the story happen.  Viewers don’t have to have read the books on which this movie is based to be able to enjoy it.  It’s a simple story that presents a good guy (Basil), a bad guy (Ratigan) and a mystery.  Even more interesting is that in its own way, the writing staff behind the movie made it even more believable in that they made Basil flawed.  Here is a character that starts out as a pompous, arrogant individual.  But as the story progresses, audiences see him become warmer and more caring towards Olivia Flaversham.  Olivia originally comes to Basil after her father is abducted by Ratigan’s henchman Fidget.  Basil’s personal growth and his relationship to Olivia is a secondary storyline to that of his search for Ratigan.  But it makes the story more heartwarming, and in turn, more enjoyable.

One of the most important factors of any movie script’s success is suspension of disbelief.  The Great Mouse Detective has a story that easily allows audiences to suspend their disbelief.  As a matter of fact, the main story and its intertwining story will pull in audiences with ease.  No story is believable without equally believable characters.  And believable characters are exactly what the movie has.  Basil’s personal growth makes him more relatable and endearing to audiences.  On the other side of the spectrum, Professor Ratigan is equally vile and despicable. If there’s one thing that Disney has always had the ability to do, it’s creating great villains.  And thanks to the voice acting of the late, great Vincent Price, Ratigan jumps off the screen.  He wastes little time establishing himself as an all out bad guy.  That he feeds other mice to his “pet” cat without remorse is itself worthy of the title “evil.”  Audiences will instantly find themselves booing him.  That means from Price to the writers, everyone involved in bringing Ratigan to life did everything right.

As one can see, so much went into bringing The Great Mouse Detective to life.  From making the art to the story to its characters, the work involved in making this movie a reality paid off.  It is a good movie not just for fans of the mystery genre, but for anyone who is a fan of Disney’s history.  The new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered direct via Disney’s online shop at http://www.disneystore.com/the-great-mouse-detective-special-edition-blu-ray-and-dvd-combo-pack/mp/1319926/1000316/

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Corman’s Wasp Woman Is A Classic In Its Own Right

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Our world is obsessed with youth.  The pressure to be young and attractive is even greater on women than it is on men.  This pressure seems to be even greater today than ever before.  Because it has been such a prominent topic for so long, it’s also been great fodder for movies.  One of the most notable movies that tackles that pressure is the 1992 movie, Death Becomes Her, starring Meryl Streep.  In that movie, Streep plays a woman who discovers a treatment that will keep her young and beautiful for eternity.  As funny as it was, it wasn’t the first movie to go after the pressure facing women.  One of the earliest is a B-movie headed by famed B-movie director Roger Corman call The Wasp Woman.

The Wasp Woman is one of Roger Corman’s best B-movies.  As cheesy as it was, it was also really great in its own right.  In this movie, beauty company head Janice Starlin becomes increasingly obsessed with her looks after a male member of her company’s board mentioned to her that the company’s sales were beginning to fall off because the company tried to use a face other than hers to market its products.  So hearing this, she enlists the aid of sort-of mad scientist Eric Zinthrop (Michael Mark), who is testing the effects of queen jelly from the queen wasp in rejuvenating subjects’ youth.  At first things seem to go okay.  But then things go horribly wrong, leading Starlin to become the hideous Wasp Woman.

The Wasp Woman outfit is cheesy beyond belief.  But that’s beside the point.  It’s not really what makes this flick so fun.  What makes the flick so fun is that whether or not it intentionally made commentary on the impact of the beauty industry and society as a whole, that commentary exists even in this totally funny B-flick that’s perfect for a Halloween party.  That the subject behind the story is very real, it makes suspension of disbelief that much easier.  And the ability to suspend one’s disbelief goes a long way toward making this movie one of Roger Corman’s greatest classics.

Now fans can watch this classic B-Flick any time they want as it’s been included in Mill Creek’s new 100 Greates Sci-Fi Classics double box set.  It’s available in stores and can be ordered online at http://www.millcreekent.com

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