Craft Recordings To Re-Issue ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Soundtrack On Vinyl This Month

Courtesy: Craft Recordings

One of the greatest soundtracks of the 20th century is getting a special vinyl re-issue.

A Charlie Brown Christmas Original Soundtrack will be re-issued on vinyl Nov. 17 via Craft Recordings, the catalogue branch of Concord Music Group.  Originally recorded by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, the new 180-gram vinyl re-issue will include rare artwork from the soundtrack’s original 1965 release.

The soundtrack was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2016, making it one of the best-selling jazz albums in music history, second only to Miles Davis’ seminal 1959 album Kind of Blue.  The record features some of the entertainment industry’s most well-known themes including the famed ‘Linus and Lucy’ and ‘Christmas Time Is Here,’ which opens the animated classic.

The soundtrack’s sales numbers are collectively not its only key note.  It was inducted into the Grammy ® Hall of Fame in 2007and the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2012.

The track listing for the single-LP vinyl re-issue is noted below.

Track List:
Side A
1. O Tannenbaum
2. What Child Is This
3. My Little Drum
4. Linus & Lucy
5. Christmas Time Is Here (instrumental)
Side B
1. Christmas Time Is Here (vocal)
2. Skating
3. Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
4. Christmas Is Coming
5. Für Elise
6. The Christmas Song

More information on this and other titles from Craft Recordings is available online now at:










To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at


Craft Recordings Announces New John Lee Hooker Box Set Release Date, Specs

Courtesy: Craft Recordings/Concord Music Group

Craft Recordings, a division of Concord Music Group, will pay tribute to blues legend John Lee Hooker next month with a brand new box set.

King of the Boogie will be released Sept. 29 in stores and online.  The set’s 100-total songs are spread across five discs and features a number of Hooker’s greatest hits as well as lots of rarities, live recordings and previously unreleased recordings.  The collection includes a 56-page book along with the discs that features a variety of pictures of the famed bluesman at different points of his career as well as liner notes written by writer and Hooker historian Jas Obrecht and Hooker’s manager and friend Mike Kappus.

Mason Williams, who curated and produced King of the Boogie, said in a recent interview about the collection that its 100 total songs make up only a small glance of Hooker’s extensive career, but a clear view nonetheless.

“Even at 100 songs, this set is just a snapshot of John Lee Hooker’s incredible and influential career, but one that takes you on the long journey he took from his early days in Detroit to his time in Chicago recording for Vee-Jay Records and up through his later collaborations with Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt and Santana among others,” Williams said.

The set’s track listing is noted below.

Disc 1:
1. Boogie Chillen’ – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
2. Sally May – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
3. Hobo Blues – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
4. Crawlin’ King Snake – John Lee Hooker & His Guitar
5. Black Man Blues – Texas Slim
6. Goin’ Mad Blues – Delta John
7. Who’s Been Jivin’ You – Texas Slim
8. (Miss Sadie Mae) Curl My Baby’s Hair
9. Hoogie Boogie – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
10. Burnin’ Hell – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
11. Weeping Willow Boogie
12. Moaning Blues – Texas Slim
13. Huckle Up Baby – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
14. Goin’ On Highway #51 – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
15. John L’s House Rent Boogie
16. I’m In The Mood
17. Two White Horses
18. 33 Blues
19. Sugar Mama
20. Wobbling Baby
21. Stuttering Blues – John Lee Booker
22. I’m A Boogie Man – Johnny Lee
23. Down Child
24. Odds Against Me (Backbiters And Syndicaters)
25. Shake, Holler And Run
Disc 2:
1. Unfriendly Woman [Aka Stop Now]*
2. Mambo Chillun
3. Time Is Marching
4. Dimples
5. Little Wheel
6. I Love You Honey
7. Drive Me Away
8. Maudie
9. When I Lay My Burden Down*
10. Tupelo Blues
11. Good Mornin’ Lil’ School Girl
12. I Rolled And Turned And Cried The Whole Night Long
13. No More Doggin’
14. Dusty Road
15. No Shoes
16. My First Wife Left Me
17. Crazy About That Walk – Sir John Lee Hooker
18. Want Ad Blues
19. Will The Circle Be Unbroken
20. I’m Going Upstairs
21. I Lost My Job
22. Don’t Turn Me From Your Door
23. Grinder Man
24. Meat Shakes On Her Bone*
Disc 3:
1. Boom Boom
2. Blues Before Sunrise
3. She’s Mine
4. Frisco Blues
5. Good Rockin’ Mama
6. I’m Leaving
7. Birmingham Blues
8. Don’t Look Back
9. Big Legs, Tight Skirt
10. It Serves Me Right
11. Money
12. One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
13. The Motor City Is Burning
14. Mean, Mean Woman
15. Doin’ The Shout
16. Homework
17. Early One Morning
18. Rocking Chair
19. Hittin’ The Bottle Again
20. Deep Blue Sea
21. Spellbound
Disc 4: LIVE
1. Hobo Blues – Live
2. Maudie – Live
3. Shake It Baby – Live
4. Boogie Chillun – Live
5. Bottle Up And Go – Live
6. Crawlin’ King Snake – Live
7. The Mighty Fire – Live
8. You’ve Got To Walk Yourself – Live
9. I’m Bad Like Jesse James – Live
10. Boogie Everywhere I Go – Live
11.She’s Gone*- Live
12.It Serves Me Right To Suffer*- Live
13. Boom Boom* – Live
14. Hi-Heel Sneakers* – Live
15. One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer* – Live
1. I Got Eyes For You – With “Little” Eddie Kirkland
2. Mai Lee – With The Groundhogs
3. Peavine – With Canned Heat
4. Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive – With Van Morrison
5. Five Long Years – With Joe Cocker
6. The Healer – With Carlos Santana
7. I’m In The Mood – With Bonnie Raitt
8. Sally Mae – With George Thorogood
9. Mr. Lucky – With Robert Cray
10. Up And Down – With Warren Haynes
11. Boom Boom – With Jimmie Vaughan
12. You Shook Me – With B.B. King
13. Don’t Look Back – With Van Morrison
14. Dimples – With Los Lobos
15. Boogie Chillen’ – With Eric Clapton

King of the Boogie is being released as part of a year-long celebration of what would have been Hooker’s 100th birthday (which would have been celebrated Aug. 22).  An exhibit of the same name is currently being presented at the Grammy Museum ® Mississippi.  It includes outfits that Hooker wore at various live shows, guitars that he played, photos, awards and his music.  The exhibit will be on display through Feb. 2018 before being moved to the Grammy Museum® L.A. Live.

Hooker’s daughter Zakiya, spoke Tuesday about the new exhibit and forthcoming box set, saying the tributes moved her and knew they would move audiences, too.

“Today, on what would have been my father’s 100th birthday, I am so thrilled to see him celebrated—both with the exhibit as well as with the announcement of this special collection of music,” she said.  “I know his fans will be excited to hear rare performances, and to read the touching words of his longtime manager, Mike Kappus, as well as those of the wonderful Jas Obrecht.  It was a pleasure to watch this box set come together, and I can’t wait to see it shared with the world.”

More information on this and other titles from Craft Recordings and Concord Music Group is available online now at:










To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Craft Recordings Announces New Isaac Hayes’ Retrospective Release Date, Specs

Courtesy: Craft Recordings/Concord Music Group/Rhino Entertainment

Craft Recordings, a division of Concord Music Group, is paying tribute to music legend Isaac Hayes with a brand new box set.

The company announced this week that it will release The Spirit of Memphis (1962 – 1976) on Sept. 22.  The four-CD collection presents a number of the songs that made Hayes so popular from his early days up to his days as an international superstar.  Those songs include a number of previously unreleased compositions.

The first of the set’s four discs features a number of Hayes’ most well-known and beloved songs crafted with David Porter while Hayes was a producer and songwriter.  Those songs include Carla Thomas’ ‘B-A-B-Y,’ which was recently featured in the blockbuster movie Baby Driver, and Sam & Dave’s ‘Soul Man,’ which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

The set’s second disc focuses on Hayes’ work as a solo artist and includes songs such as ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix,’ ‘Never Can Say Goodbye,’ ‘Do Your Thing’ and the title track from the Shaft soundtrack.

The collection’s third disc is entitled Cover Man and, as it hints, is a collection of some of Hayes’ greatest covers.  Its set list includes Hayes’ take on ‘Windows of the World,’ ‘Stormy Monday,’ ‘Stormy Monday,’ ‘I Stand Accused,’ ‘The Ten Commandments of Love’ and other songs.

Jam Master, the fourth of the set’s primary discs, features extended takes and demos of songs from his classic albums.  The most notable of the disc’s jams is a 33-minute take on ‘Do Your Thing’ while the demos include takes on ‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ and the previously unreleased Shaft soundtrack composition ‘Black Militant’s Place.’

Along with its primary four-disc presentation, the forthcoming box set will also feature a replica 7” vinyl single of Hayes’ very first recordings and a hardcover 60-page book.  The book, which is its own retrospective on Hayes’ career, features pictures from that career and an essay titled Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion by author Robert Gordon.

The book also features interviews with well-known Stax figures Deanie Parker and Jim Stewart and contributions from Floyd Newman, Mickey Gregory, Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave fame), and compilation producer Joe McEwan.

The Spirit of Memphis (1962 – 1976) is a collaborative effort between Concord Music Group and Rhino Entertainment, and is part of a year-long celebration by Stax Records to celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary.  Pre-orders are open now via Amazon.

The full track listing for The Spirit of Memphis (1962 – 1976) is noted below.

*Denotes previously unreleased material
Soul Songwriter, Soul Producer
1. Floyd Newman – Sassy
2. David Porter – Can’t See You When I Want To
3. Carla Thomas – How Do You Quit (Someone You Love)
4. Booker T and the MGs – Boot-leg
5. The Astors – Candy
6. Danny White – Can’t Do Nothing Without You
7. Johnnie Taylor – I Had A Dream
8. Sam & Dave – Hold On! I’m A Comin’
9. Ruby Johnson – I’ll Run Your Hurt Away
10. Carla Thomas – Let Me Be Good To You
11. Mable John – Your Good Thing (Is About To End)
12. Homer Banks – Fighting To Win
13. Carla Thomas – B-A-B-Y
14. William Bell – Never Like This Before
15. The Mad Lads – Patch My Heart
16. Johnnie Taylor – Little Bluebird
17. Charlie Rich – When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
18. Charlie Rich – Love Is After Me
19. Judy Clay – You Can’t Run Away From Your Heart
20. Sam & Dave – Soul Man
21. The Charmels – As Long As I’ve Got You
22. Sam & Dave – I Thank You
23. The Soul Children – The Sweeter He Is (Parts I & II)
24. Billy Eckstine – Stormy
25. David Porter – Can’t See You When I Want To
26. The Emotions – Show Me How
Volt & Enterprise Singles
1. Sir Isaac and The Do-Dads – The Big Dipper
2. Sir Isaac and The Do-Dads – Blue Groove
3. Isaac Hayes – Precious, Precious
4. Isaac Hayes – By The Time I Get To Phoenix
5. Isaac Hayes – The Mistletoe & Me
6. Isaac Hayes – Winter Snow
7. Isaac Hayes – I Stand Accused
8. Isaac Hayes – The Look Of Love
9. Isaac Hayes – Never Can Say Goodbye
10. Isaac Hayes – Theme From “Shaft”
11. Isaac Hayes – Do Your Thing
12. Isaac Hayes – Let’s Stay Together
13. Isaac Hayes and David Porter – Ain’t That Loving You
(For More Reasons Than One)
14. Isaac Hayes and David Porter – Baby I’m-A Want You
15. Isaac Hayes – Theme From “The Men”
16. Isaac Hayes – Rolling Down A Mountainside
17. Isaac Hayes – Joy (Part 1)
18. Isaac Hayes – Wonderful
19. Isaac Hayes – Someone Made You For Me
20. Isaac Hayes – Title Theme (From “Three Tough Guys”)
21. Radio Spot – “You Gotta Have It To Really Be In”
22. Radio Spot – “The Rapper Is Back”
Cover Man
1. Isaac Hayes – When I Fall In Love
2. Isaac Hayes – Walk On By
3. Isaac Hayes – I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
4. Isaac Hayes – Man’s Temptation
5. Isaac Hayes – Never Gonna Give You Up
6. Isaac Hayes – Windows Of The World*
Recorded Live at Operation PUSH Black Expo,
International Amphitheatre, Chicago, IL – October 1, 1972:
7. Isaac Hayes – The Ten Commandments of Love*
8. Isaac Hayes – Just Want To Make Love To You / Rock Me Baby*
9. Isaac Hayes – Stormy Monday*
10. Isaac Hayes – I Stand Accused*
11. Isaac Hayes – If Loving You Is Wrong
12. Isaac Hayes – His Eye Is On The Sparrow
Jam Master
1. Isaac Hayes – Ike’s Mood I
2. Isaac Hayes – You’ve Made Me So Very Happy*
3. Isaac Hayes – Black Militant’s Place*
4. Isaac Hayes – Ain’t No Sunshine*
5. Isaac Hayes – Hung Up On My Baby* (Extended Jam)
6. Isaac Hayes – Groove-A-Thon* (Extended Jam)
7. Isaac Hayes – Do Your Thing (Extended Jam)
7″ Single
Laura, We’re On Our Last Go-Round
C.C. Rider

More information on The Spirit of Memphis (1962 – 1976) and other titles from Concord Music Group and Craft Recordings is available online now at:










To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Michael Franti And Spearhead Release Updated Video For ‘Same As It Ever Was (It Starts Today)’

Photo Credit: Chelsea Klette

Photo Credit: Chelsea Klette

Michael Franti and Spearhead re-issued this week the powerful video for its song ‘Same As It Ever Was (It Starts Today).’

The video was re-worked to include footage of recent high profile cases involving police shootings and also features the song’s lyrics along with footage of Franti walking an anonymous city’s dimly-lit streets.  Franti sat down recently with Billboard to discuss the song and its new video.  While there he held an intimate acoustic performance of the song that can be seen here.  Since neither Franti nor the reporter was hooked to a mic, audiences will have to turn up the volume in order to hear them.  The newly re-worked music video meanwhile can be seen via Franti’s official YouTube channel.

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

Michael Franti and Spearhead is currently touring in support of the group’s new full-length studio recording Soulrocker.  The band will be in Nashville, Tennessee tonight and Louisville, Kentucky tomorrow.  The group’s tour currently runs through September 18th in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  The group’s full tour schedule is noted below.


Here are the in-progress dates for MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD on tour.


DATE                         CITY                                       VENUE

~~Fri 7/22 Nashville, TN War Memorial Auditorium
~~Sat 7/23 Louisville, KY Iroquois Amphitheater
~~Sun 7/24 Columbus, OH Express Live!
~~Tue 7/26 Birmingham, AL Avondale Brewing Company
~~Wed 7/27 Mobile, AL Saenger Theatre
Fri 7/29 Kaslo, BC Kaslo Jazz Festival
*Wed 8/3 Costa Mesa, CA Pacific Amphitheatre
Thu 8/4 Mammoth Lakes, CA Mammoth Festival
**Fri 8/5 Flagstaff, AZ Pepsi Amphitheater
**Sat 8/6 Durango, CO Three Springs
**Sun 8/7 Morrison, CO Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Tue 8/9 Salt Lake City, UT Red Butte Garden
**Thu 8/11 Bend, OR Les Schwab Amphitheater
**Fri 8/12 Troutdale, OR Edgefield
Sat 8/13 Tamarack, ID The Huckleberry Jam
**Tue 8/16 Missoula, MT Big Sky Brewing Company
**Wed 8/17 Spokane, WA Knitting Factory Concert House
**Fri 8/19 Lake Tahoe, NV MontBleu Resort & Casino
Sat 8/20 Lincoln, CA Thunder Vibes
**Sun 8/21 Saratoga, CA The Mountain Winery
**Tue 8/23 Rohnert Park, CA Sonoma Mountain Village
~Wed 8/24 Lancaster, CA Antelope Valley Fair
**Thu 8/25 San Luis Obispo, CA Avila Beach Resort
**Fri 8/26 Las Vegas, NV Brooklyn Bowl
Sat 8/27 Tucson, AZ The Rialto Theatre
!Sun 8/28 Santa Fe, NM The Santa Fe Opera House
Fri 9/2 Seattle, WA Bumbershoot
Sat 9/3 Jacksonville, OR Britt Pavilion
Sun 9/4 Arcata, CA Van Duzer Theatre
Sept 15-18 Victoria, BC Rifflandia

* w/ G. Love & Special Sauce

** w/ Zella Day

~ w/ Iration

~~ w/ Marc Scibilia

! w/ Lila Downs



More information on Michael Franti and Spearhead’s new video is available online now along with all of the band’s new tour dates, news and more at:









To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Five Crooked Lines Gets Five Gold Stars

Courtesy:  The Bicycle Music Company/Concord

Courtesy: The Bicycle Music Company/Concord

Five years have passed since audiences last heard from Finger Eleven. That is a long time in itself in music industry years. Now though, that long wait is finally over. That is because next month the Canadian-based rock outfit will release its latest album Five Crooked Lines. The album, the band’s sixth, will be released July 31st via The Bicycle Music Company/Concord. Listening to this record from beginning to end, it is safe to say that the wait for this album was well worth it. Of the album’s twelve total tracks, there is not one bad number to be heard. As a matter of fact, it could even be argued that this record is F11’s most radio ready record to date. That is because any one of its tracks could be used as a single. The band has obvious already taken that to heart and released the album’s lead single ‘Wolves and Doors.’ Fans of the band’s 2007 album Them vs. You vs. Me will appreciate this song and its companion video. It’s just one example of what makes Five Crooked Lines so enjoyable. There are also two very upbeat, optimistic pieces in the form of ‘Not Going To Be Afraid’ and ‘Blackout Song’ that could just as easily be used as singles. Whether for those two works, for the album’s lead single or for any of its other songs, it can be said that Five Crooked Lines gets five gold stars.

Finger Eleven’s latest full-length studio release Five Crooked Lines is the best and most radio ready album that the veteran band has released to date. Any one of its dozen total tracks could be used to serve as singles to represent it. It has already shown that with the release of its lead single ‘Wolves and Doors.’ This song is one that will instantly hit fans of the band’s 2007 album Them vs. You vs. Me. The reason being that its musical content sounds a lot like that of that album’s hit single ‘Paralyzer.’ Lyrically though, it is far deeper. Front man Scott Anderson comes across in this piece as singing about taking chances and making the most of life. That can be inferred as he sings in the song’s lead verse, “Step right on out/Of the zone of comfort/A little left of center/One step outside your head/Take all these words/Take all this time/You gotta spend it somewhere/Keep your delusion well-fed/Keep your soul for another day/Cause the game’s the game/And the wolves at the door remain.” That argument is made even stronger as he sings in the song’s second verse, “Come save their world/Come move that mountain/Make all the difference/Step up above the rest/Give every inch and all your energy/ And don’t let up until they say/What you think they think is best/Save your soul for another day/Cause the game’s the game/And the wolves at the door remain.” It’s an interesting statement and one that will definitely have listeners talking. That one line in which Anderson states, “Don’t let up until they say what you think they think is best” is one of the most interesting of the song’s lines. It’s Anderson saying to listeners, “stand your ground and don’t give in regardless of the situation.” The way that Anderson has worded it is a little bit of a twist. But once listeners really think about it, it becomes a deep statement. That statement taken with the rest of the song’s lyrics make for quite the depth. Partnered with guitarist Rick Jackett’s infectious guitar line (and later his solo), it proves even more why Five Crooked Lines is such a welcome return for F11. Audiences can hear the single for themselves now online at Vevo now at

‘Wolves and Doors’ is an excellent first impression from F11 in its return. Rick Jackett instantly takes audiences back to days gone by with his infectious guitar work. And front man Scott Anderson’s lyrics are sure to leave listeners talking just as much. The combination of both elements prove why the song was chosen as the album’s lead single. It is just one example of what makes this record the band’s best and most radio ready to date. ‘Not Going To Be Afraid,’ the album’s mid-point, is just as strong of an example of what makes Five Crooked Lines so impressive. It’s obvious in listening to this song that the band put a lot of thought into its creation. That is because Jackett’s guitar line and Anderson’s own vocal delivery perfectly match the tone of the verses and choruses. The verses, in which Anderson sings about so much personal strife are made especially emotionally gripping thanks to Anderson’s own heart-wrenching vocal delivery style set alongside Jackett’s equally moving guitar line. What is really interesting here is that the song doesn’t just jump musically from its verses to the chorus. Rather the verses progress from those emotionally powerful verses to the more optimistic chorus in which Anderson sings, “Even though it’s so dark/I see one last spark/Maybe hope’s not far away/Heaven can’t help me/But courage could sell me/I’m one last chance/I should take.” He goes on to sing in the song’s chorus, “Fear has always known my name/Play me just like a game/ Today won’t be the same/I’m not gonna be afraid/Crushing overwhelming doubt/Scream a little louder shout/Then whatever happens now/I’m not gonna be afraid.” That emotional back and forth (in musical terms, that’s called an ABAB structure) makes this song just as solid a representative for Five Crooked Lines as ‘Wolves and Doors.’ It is just as sure to be a fan favorite as that song or any of the others that make up the album’s body. That being the case, it shows once more why Five Crooked Lines is the band’s best album to date and its most radio-ready.

Both ‘Wolves and Doors’ and ‘Not Going To Be Afraid’ clearly show why the wait for Five Crooked Lines was well worth the wait. They are only two examples of why it was worth the wait, too. ‘Blackout Song’ is yet another example of why the wait was worth it. It is more celebratory than emotional yet still just as optimistic, if that makes any sense. Explaining the song in terms of its musical and lyrical content will perhaps make that clearer. The song’s title alone gives its own hint that the song is yet another piece that will put a smile on listeners’ faces. That certainly proves true as the band kicks into the song. The song’s opening bars see the band singing in almost a chorus effect before Anderson takes the reins, singing, “I told myself I’d/Stay in tonight/But here I am with no end in sight/I feel amazing/And if you are willing/This is only the beginning/So get here right now/You’ve got to come down/I’m calling you out/Let’s stay up all night/And we’ll sing/For everything good in our lives/Let’s stay up all night/And we’ll say f*** everything we never tried.” If that opening verse and chorus set alongside the song’s upbeat musical content doesn’t get listeners happily singing along, then there’s no telling what will. By themselves, they are yet another reflection of the album’s title and Anderson’s explanation behind it and how it is meant to invoke positive thoughts. The song’s second verse and chorus mirror that thought pattern just as much, as Anderson sings, “Put a song on/I don’t care which one/Cause I’ll only get the words wrong/I’ll change the meaning/To just how I’m feeling/Cause I don’t feel much like leaving/So get here right now/You’ve got to come down/I’m calling you out/Let’s stay up all night/And we’ll sing/For everything good in our lives/Let’s stay up all night/And we’ll sing/f*** everything we never tried.” He goes on late in the song to expand even more singing how people will remember the song’s subject because he had such a good time. It is just a great, feel-good song that is just as certain as either of the previously noted songs to be a fan favorite and/or single. That is thanks to those infectious hooks and choruses that make up its body. Of course its overall bright outlook on everything doesn’t hurt, either. It is just one more great touch to an album that is overall F11’s best album to date and its most radio ready. Even more simply put, it is one more song that, along with the previously noted songs and with those not noted here, proves without a doubt that Five Crooked Lines was well worth the wait and gets five gold stars.

Five Crooked Lines has been five years in the making. While it may have been a long time coming, it proves from beginning to end to be an album that was well worth the wait. Every one of the dozen songs that make up the body of the record proves this. The trio of songs already noted are just a few examples of what audiences have in store when this record hits store. Whether it be one or all of those songs or any of the album’s other works, audiences will agree in hearing Five Crooked Lines that there is not one bad song on this record. It is in fact the band’s best record to date and its most radio-ready record, too. It will be available in stores Tuesday, July 31st via The Bicycle Music Company/Concord Music Group. Fans will also be able to pick up the album at any of the band’s live dates on its current tour. Fans can check out the band’s current tour schedule and get its latest news online now at:




To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

McCartney’s New Single Gives Great Hope For His Career And The Future Of Music

Courtesy:  Concerd Music Group/Hear Music/MPL

Courtesy: Concord Music Group/Hear Music/MPL

Legendary musician Paul McCartney has spent the better part of his life making some of the greatest music that audiences have ever heard. Whether it be music that he crafted with his former Beatles band mates, those he composed as part of Wings, or his solo work, McCartney’s work has proven time and again to be timeless. Now McCartney is set to release yet another great work in the form of his new single ‘Hope For The Future.’ This song was previously only available through the new hit video game Destiny. But on Monday, December 8th, the song will be available worldwide for audiences via Concord Music Group/Hear Music/MPL. There is plenty that can be said of this song that makes it such a joy of a song. The most obvious reason for its enjoyment is its lyrical content. Taken out of the context of Destiny’s world, the song’s lyrical content proves to be just as powerful for listeners. The song’s musical arrangement adds even more depth to the song. There are strings, horns, and of course McCartney covering the vocals and guitar line. As important as both factors are to the song’s success and enjoyment, they would be nothing without proper production. Thankfully veteran producer Giles Martin put all of the song’s various musical sections together to complete the song. It shows to be a song that gives its own hope for the future of McCartney’s career however long McCartney chooses to keep making music.

‘Hope For The Future’ was originally released earlier this year as part of the soundtrack to the hugely popular video game Destiny. But next Tuesday, the song will be available for audiences around the world through Concord Music/Hear Music/MPL. This song, which McCartney crafted himself, is arguably one of the best new singles of 2014. And it definitely gives its own * ahem* hope for the future of McCartney’s career for however long he chooses to keep making music. One way in which that it does this is through the song’s lyrical content. McCartney writes in this song, “We will build bridges/Up to the sky/Heavenly light surrounding you and I/From out of the darkness/Our future will come/If we leave the past behind/We’ll fly beyond the sun/We’ll be together/Sharing the load/Watching in wonder/As our lives unfold.” Such positive lyrical content could not be more welcome especially in consideration of all of the conflict around the world. McCartney’s line referencing leaving the past behind could not be more fitting for America considering the recent reports of civil unrest and racial tensions raised thanks to recent police actions. He goes on to write in the song’s chorus, “Hope shines brightest/In the dark/Where nothing’s ever seen/Lighting undiscovered places/No one’s ever been.” He hammers home the point that a positive outcome is possible despite all of this unrest and tensions he writes, “Hope for the future/It will belong to us/If we believe/If we believe.” Such positive and–for lack of better wording–hopeful lyrics are welcome and much needed especially in the current state of the world. It’s just one way in which ‘Hope For The Future’ proves to be such an outstanding new work from Paul McCartney.

The lyrical content infused into ‘Hope For The Future’ is itself an important part of the song’s whole. It provides a positive, glimmering light among all of the darkness created by the conflict and tensions around the world. The lyrics are themselves quite positive. The music against which the lyrics are set add even more depth and impact to the song. McCartney was backed by a full orchestra in the recording of the song. That means that every part that audiences hear is the real thing. From the gentle cello line that opens the song to the power of the low brass against McCartney’s own guitar line, and the soaring strings, the arrangement in whole adds so much depth and emotion to the song. Set against the song’s lyrical side, it makes them even more impactful. The end result is again, a song that proves to be one of this year’s best new singles and a song that gives plenty of hope for McCartney’s own musical future.

The music and lyrics that make up ‘Hope For The Future’ collectively make this song a piece that audiences will enjoy whether listening to it as part of Destiny’s soundtrack or by itself. As impressive as the music and lyrics are, they would be nothing without the work of producers Mark “Spike” Stent and Giles Martin. Martin, many might not know, is the son of legendary producer George Martin, who produced a number of The Beatles’ greatest albums decades ago. George’s ear for music was obviously passed down to Giles, as audiences will hear here. He and Stent balanced McCartney’s musicianship with the talents of the 120-member (yes, 120) orchestra. Whether it be the accents of the cymbal rolls, the punch of the low brass against McCartney’s own guitar line, or the crescendos and decrescendos of the strings, Martin and Stent obviously went to painstaking efforts to make every part of the song have the utmost emotional impact. They accomplished this goal quite well, too. Audiences will agree with that sentiment when they hear the song for themselves. What’s more, audiences will agree in hearing ‘Hope For The Future’ that this song itself is one of the best new singles of 2014. And it gives great hope for McCartney’s career for however long he intends to keep making music.

Whether it be for the production work of Giles Martin and Mark Stent, the song’s musical side, or its lyrical side, all three factors prove to be equally important in the success and enjoyment of ‘Hope For The Future.’ The original mix itself is more than enough reason to pick up this single or download it. McCartney and the people at Concord Music, Hear Music, and MPL have made things even more interesting for audiences by including four remixes, one of which is a rather interesting EDM remix. Whether it be any of those remixes or the original, every listener will find something to like about ‘Hope For The Future.’ With any luck, all of the different mixes together will change the minds of even those that have decried the song and make them agree that this is without a doubt, one of the great new singles of 2014.

‘Hope For The Future’ will be available Monday, December 8th. More information on how to purchase and download the single and on McCartney’s upcoming tour dates and news, is available online at:




To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Harpers’ New LP Will Take Listeners Back To Their Own Childhood Home

Courtesy:  Stax/Concord Music Group/Prestige Folklore

Courtesy: Stax/Concord Music Group/Prestige Folklore

Childhood Home, the new album from Grammy award-winning musician Ben Harper and his mother Ellen, has easily made a place for itself on this critic’s list of the year’s best new albums. The ten track album is comprised of entirely new material written by both the elder and younger Harper. And being that it was released only days before Mother’s Day only serves to make it an even more touching album. The album speaks volumes of the lives of both Ben and his mother, both of whose music is rooted deeply in the world of folk and roots music. Harper has shown those roots numerous times over the course of his career. However, nowhere have those roots been so clear than on this beautiful collection of songs. The album proves its value right off the top with the Harpers singing of what really makes a home in the aptly titled ‘A House is a Home.’ The elder Harper, who wrote four of the album’s songs offers another of the album’s best moments in the lightly bluegrass influenced ‘Farmer’s Daughter.’ The whole thing closes with what is one of the most powerful and moving pieces in ‘How Could We Not Believe.’ The depth of the piece is certain to leave not a single eye dry after hearing it. Having heard it along with the album’s other songs, any listener will agree that Childhood Home more than deserves to have a place on any critic’s list of the year’s best new albums.

Ben and Ellen Harper open their stunning new collection of songs with an opus that is just as certain to leave listeners teary-eyed as the album’s closer. That song is the gentle ‘A House is a Home.’ The song emphasizes that no matter what a person’s house looks like, a house is still a home. It is a home because of the memories that it creates. The duo makes this clear as it sings, “A house is a home/Even when there’s ghosts/Even when you gotta run/From the ones you love the most/Screen door’s broken/Paint’s peelin’ from the wood/Locals whisper/When they gonna leave the neighborhood?/A house is a home/even when we’ve up and gone/Even when you’re there alone/A house/A house/Is a home.” The mother and son duo continue crafting such a vivid picture to which so many listeners can relate singing of chores left undone, life getting in the way as families are built, etc. They emphasize that through it all, a house is still a home. It is made a home through everything noted. The gentle strains of the guitar set against the even gentler backing percussion, and the Harpers’ vocal harmonies come together to paint a picture that will leave smiles on any listeners’ faces and tears in their eyes. Not tears of sadness, but of joy at remembering their own childhood homes. It is the perfect opener for this album. And the perfection continues throughout the album, too. This is evident even halfway through the album in what had to have been one of the pieces penned by Ellen Harper, ‘Farmer’s Daughter.’

‘Farmer’s Daughter’ is another example of what makes Childhood Home such a stunning work from Ben and Ellen Harper. It is such a wonderful example of what makes this album great because it shows the album’s versatility. Where the album’s opener was full on folk, this song is more rooted in an Appalachian/Bluegrass vibe. Ellen sings about growing up on a farm as a girl and the pain of her family losing the farm. Considering the song’s lyrical content, one would have thought the song to have a more subdued musical sound. But that’s not the case, interestingly enough. Mrs. Harper recalls in her song, “My daddy is a father/That makes me a farmer’s daughter/It’s no joke/We’re always broke/We live on dirt and water/We can’t live on dirt and water.” She goes on to sing about her family’s farm not even belonging to them and how the bank eventually forecloses on the farm. She sings, “Jesse James/He robbed the banks/Shot that boy to death/Now the banks are robbing us/We got nothing left.”   Along the way, she sings about the impact that these stresses had on her family. One of her sisters even left to strike out on her own. The song itself is quite the powerful statement. Again, the more powerful statement is the song’s less than stereotypical musical backing to those words. There is a certain tension in the music that heightens the emotion in Mrs. Harper’s lyrics. And it definitely helps translate the message to listeners. It is a far better choice for the song than what could have been used. It’s one more example of what makes this record such a joy, whether or not one is familiar with the work of Ben Harper or even his mother.

Ben and Ellen Harper present a vast sea of emotional depth throughout the course of the songs on Childhood Home. That depth comes courtesy of both the songs’ lyrics and music together. The album’s closer is the finishing touch on that exhibition. As with the nine songs that precede this song, the very first thing that will pull in listeners on this song is its simplicity. It is just the Harpers singing. Their vocals are backed by an equally simple percussion section. There is a shaker and what sounds like a Cajon Drum. The younger Harper and his mother sing about what would seem to be their religious beliefs. They sing, “So beautiful we had to stand aside/So beautiful we had to stand aside/We had to stand aside/With our arms open wide/So beautiful we had to stand aside/So beautiful we had to close our eyes/So beautiful we had to close our eyes/And listen to those sounds/It could be heard miles around/So beautiful we had to close our eyes.” Ben Harper alone has always had a knack for crafting songs that could tug at the deepest depths of the human soul. Alongside his mother, the duo’s harmonies in this song will tug at those depths like never before. When taken in as part of the whole that is Childhood Home, this song will most certainly leave not a single dry eye among listeners. Any listener not left even slightly teary-eyed after taking in this closer simply isn’t human. For that matter, anyone not left moved after hearing this song and the songs that precede it isn’t human. It is a beautiful work that boasts so much depth both musically and lyrically. That depth from the songs’ music and lyrics together makes Childhood Home one of this critic’s favorite new albums overall of 2014.

Childhood Home is available now in stores and online. Ben Harper is currently touring in support of Childhood Home. He is currently winding down the European leg of his tour in support of the album and will kick off the North American leg of his tour May 31st in Claremont, California. Fans can find out when Ben Harper will come to their town and keep up with the latest news from Ben Harper online now at and To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at