Longtime, Casual Fans Alike Will Enjoy The Latest LP From Blackmore’s Night

Courtesy: earMusic/BFD/The Orchard

Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night are scheduled to release their latest album Friday under the Blackmore’s Night moniker.  The release of the record, dubbed Nature’s Light, will come more than six years after the release of the band’s then latest album, All Our Yesterdays.  The 10-song record is certain to appeal primarily to the band’s established fan base and slightly to guitar rock purists, thanks in part to its musical arrangements.  This will be addressed shortly.  The readily accessible lyrical content featured throughout the album add to the record’s appeal.  It will be discussed a little later.  Rounding out the record’s most important elements is its production, which will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the record in whole a work that will appeal to Blackmore’s Night’s established fan base.

Nature’s Light, the latest album from Blackmore’s Night, is a presentation that will find wide appeal among the act’s established fan base.  That is proven primarily through the recording’s musical arrangements.  The medieval style approach and sound exhibited in each of the record’s songs are everything that audiences have come to expect from the band throughout its catalog.  At the same time, the instrumental tracks ‘Darker Shade of Black’ and ‘Der Letzte Musketier’ offer audiences a more modern approach and sound.  The latter is a subtle, catchy, blues-based work that will appeal to fans of the likes of Joe Bonamassa and Joe Satriani.  To a lesser degree, listeners can even make a comparison to works from the likes of ZZ Top.  The prior track on the other hand, is its own unique presentation.  The organ, bass, and cello pair with the choral element and guitar to give this song a unique blend of classic rock and classical elements that will resonate with a wide range of listeners.  The more renaissance style works meanwhile, will connect with audiences who prefer that familiar sound from the band.  Night’s vocals are equally impressive in the more upbeat moments, such as in ‘Four Winds,’ and ‘Feather in the Wind’ and in the lighter moments, such as the tambourine-laden album opener/lead single, ‘Once Upon A December’ and the mournful ballad ‘Wish You Were Here.’  Blackmore’s own performance alongside that of Night makes for its own engagement and entertainment throughout, as do those of the duo’s accompanists this time around.  All things considered, the musical content featured in this album clearly offers plenty for any listener.  The familiar renaissance style and sound exhibited here will appeal to the band’s established audience base while the instrumentals will appeal to more casual audiences.  Considering all of this, the musical content featured in Nature’s Light assures its success just in its musical content.  It is just a portion of what makes the record work, too.  The record’s overall lyrical content does its own part to ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment. 

The lyrical content that is featured along with the album’s musical arrangements is important to address because of its diversity and introspective nature.  Given, the topic of relationships permeates the record, with three songs – ‘Nature’s Light,’ ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘Second Element’ – touching on the topic.  Even with that abundance of songs that take on the all-too-familiar topic, it is not the record’s only lyrical topic.  ‘Once Upon A Christmas’ for instance is its own unique story about Jesus’ birth.  ‘Four Winds,’ on the other hand, is a deeply moving story about a young woman finding her place in the world.  It is essentially an allegorical tale.  ‘The Twisted Oak’ is yet another example of the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes.  This song is a deeply introspective work that finds its subject just looking for “The peace of mind I’ve left behind.”  The whole song finds its subject alone in a quiet, calm space in the forest, searching for that mental and emotional clarity.  This is a work that will resonate with a wide range of listeners, considering everyone searches for that clarity on a daily basis.  To that end, it is one more example of the importance of Nature’s Light’s lyrical themes.  When it is considered along with the other themes noted here and those not directly addressed, that whole leaves no doubt as to the role that said content plays in the album.  When the record’s lyrical and musical content join, the whole makes even clearer why Nature’s Light will appeal to Blackmore’s Night’s established audience base and even more casual listeners.  That collective content is, overall, just part of what make it a successful record.  The record’s production brings everything together to complete the record’s presentation.

The production that went into Nature’s Light is important because that element brought out the tiniest of nuances from the record’s renaissance style works and even its more modern works.  For instance, the balance between Night’s smooth vocal delivery style and sound with the ancient instruments in ‘Feather in the Wind’ gives this song a wonderful old almost Celtic sound.  That is attributed to the work of those behind the glass.  There is so much happening here, but thanks to the expert production, not one part overpowers another here.  It all balances to make the song one of the album’s most surprisingly enjoyable arrangements.  The more modern style of ‘Der Letzte Muketier’ required its own attention in terms of the production.  That is due to the subtleties in the guitar line and even the organ line that opens the song.  The dynamics and balance in the notes as they are played is its own tribute to the balance in the sound levels there.  The result is that that line alone creates such depth.  It conjures thoughts of Deep Purple for the most brief of moments.  It’s yet another moment that shows the role of the record’s production.  When the production overall is considered along with the song’s musical and lyrical content, that whole makes the album in whole certain to succeed among longtime fans of Blackmore’s Night and even more casual fans.

Blackmore’s Night’s latest full-length studio recording is a presentation that will find wide-ranging success among the band’s established audience base and even casual fans.  That is proven in part through the record’s musical arrangements, which are largely everything that the band’s longtime fans have come to expect from the group.  They and the band’s more casual fans will also enjoy the more modern style instrumental tracks that accompany the more familiar renaissance style works.  The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements are important because of their depth and slight diversity.  The record’s production rounds out its most important of the record’s elements.  It ensures that every nuance of every arrangement is attended to throughout.  That attention to detail paid off, too.  When this element is considered along with the album’s overall content, all things considered make the album a work that will appeal widely to longtime fans of Blackmore’s Night.  What’s more, casual listeners will find it worth hearing at least once.  The record is scheduled for release Friday through earMusic.

More information on Blackmore’s Night’s new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.Blackmoresnight.com

Facbeookhttp://www.facebook.com/blackmoresnightofficial

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/TruCandiceNight

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

Saxon Takes On A Classic From The Beatles For Its Latest Single

Courtesy: Silver Linings Music

Saxon is giving audiences yet another preview of its forthcoming covers compilation.

The band debuted its take on The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ Friday, along with the cover’s companion lyric video. The cover is the third single from Saxon’s forthcoming covers compilation, Inspirations, which is scheduled for release March 19 through Silver Linings Music. The collection also features covers of Deep Purple’s ‘Speed King‘ and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint it Black.’

Saxon front man Biff Byford noted during a recent interview, his appreciation for The Beatles is far-reaching.

“I saw The Beatles on TV for the first time in 1963,” he said. “It was a very inspirational moment for me to think maybe I could be in a band!”

Saxon’s take on ‘Paperback Writer’ stays true to its source material, but amps it up considerably. The song takes on more of an arena rock type work here versus the more pop rock approach taken in The Beatles’ original.

The track listing for Inspirations is noted below.  Pre-orders are open.

Track Listing:

  1. Paint It Black
  2. Immigrant Song
  3. Paperback Writer
  4. Evil Woman
  5. Stone Free
  6. Bomber
  7. Speed King
  8. The Rocker
  9. Hold The Line
  10. Problem Child
  11. See My Friends

 More information on Inspirations is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttps://www.saxon747.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/saxon

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/SaxonOfficial

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

Saxon Debuts Video For ‘Speed King’ Cover

Courtesy: Silver Linings Music

Saxon is taking on a Deep Purple classic for its latest single.

The band debuted its cover of Deep Purple’s song ‘Speed King‘ and its companion video Friday. The song is the second single from Saxon’s forthcoming covers compilation record Inspiration, which is scheduled for release March 19 through Silver Linings Music. It follows the premiere of the record’s lead single, a cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Painted Black.’

Saxon’s take on ‘Speed King’ is slightly different from its source material. The frenetic guitar solo that opens the original is absent in Saxon’s cover. The band instead opts to jump right into the song’s primary section. It should also be noted that the more laid back bridge in the original song is nixed in Saxon’s update, too. Saxon’s take opts instead to keep the energy high throughout.

The video for Saxon’s cover of ‘Speed King’ is just as energetic as the band’s cover, presenting various clips of rally cars racing on different backroads courses.

Front man Biff Byford, who released his own solo record School of Hard Knocks last year, talked about the band’s cover of ‘Speed King.’

“Without ‘Speed King’ there would be no ‘Motorcycle Man,’ he said. “I love the attitude, energy, an driving speed of this song, not to mention those screaming vocals! I’d never sung it before, and I had great fun with it!”

The track listing for Inspirations is noted below.  Pre-orders are open.

Track Listing:

  1. Paint It Black
  2. Immigrant Song
  3. Paperback Writer
  4. Evil Woman
  5. Stone Free
  6. Bomber
  7. Speed King
  8. The Rocker
  9. Hold The Line
  10. Problem Child
  11. See My Friends

 More information on Inspirations is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttp://www.saxon747.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/saxon

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/SaxonOfficial

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.

Joe Satriani Launching New Comic Book

Courtesy: Incendium/Heavy Metal

One of Joe Satriani’s classic albums is getting a comic book adaptation.

Heavy Metal magazine and Incendiary are set to release the new Crystal Planet comic book. Co-created by Satriani and Ned Evett, the new title is centered on lead character Satchel Walker.

Walker is caught between two factions vying for resources from a dying star. It is up to him to end the conflict and bring peace to the universe and time stream. The only way he can achieve the noted goals is through the use of music.

The comic book will start as a five-issue limited series. The first issue of each print will release as a prestige format limited edition collectible comic book, featuring cardstock covers, specialty foil treatments, glossy pages and individual numbering. each first printing will be limited to 1,998 copies at $19.98. Orders are open here, with the first issues scheduled for shipping March 21.

The credits for the comic book are noted below.

CREDITS:
CREATED BY: Joe Satriani, Ned Evett
SCRIPT: Tony Lee
PENCILS/INKS: Richard Friend
COLOR: Carlos Cabrera
LETTERS: Jacob Bascle
EDITOR: Llexi Leon

According to a statement from Satriani, the creation of the new comic book is more than two decades in making.

“Funny how things get their start” said Satriani “July 1994 I’m on tour with Deep Purple and I’m warming up with my guitar backstage in a bull’s isolation cell at the Plaza de Toros in Gjion, Spain. Then and there I start writing the opening riff to a song that will become “Crystal Planet” and a few years later it’s the title track for my ’98 album release.” 

He continues “Fast forward to 2013, friend and fellow guitarist Ned Evett makes an animated sci-fi video for my song “Lies and Truths” using artwork from my “Joe’s Art 2013” book. We projected that video on a 30ft. screen every night of the Unstoppable Momentum Tour. It was a hit with the fans which got us thinking we could expand the clip into a “Crystal Planet” sci-fi epic. Ned and I formed Satchtoons, a company focused on creating animated content, and we got to work on scripts and demos for the “Crystal Planet” pilot. Seven years later, thanks to Llexi Leon and Heavy Metal, here we are with our first comic book series! Llexi and I had worked together on his awesome “Eternal Descent” comics, and by coincidence we met again when Heavy Metal published a short excerpt of “Crystal Planet” adapted by Brendon Small for the magazine’s 2019 music issue. Both Ned and I love working with Llexi and the Incendium creative team, they bring so much artistry and expertise to our time-traveling adventure. I am thrilled to finally offer our fans the first full issue of what will ultimately be a three novel trilogy.”

Llexi Leon made reference to a pair of well-known science-fiction movies as he explained the approach taken for Crystal Planet.

 “Crystal Planet is a thrilling rollercoaster through space and time, it’s Mad Max Vs TRON – with guitars!,” he said. “This has been an incredibly rewarding project to bring to fruition, digging deep into the lore behind one of the greatest instrumental rock records. Working with Joe has always been a pleasure, having collaborated in comics with Eternal Descent years ago his love of the medium is well known. There was a treasure trove of concepts and character exploration compiled over decades by Joe and his writing partner Ned that formed the basis of this project, with the ultimate goal to take fans on a journey to Crystal Planet for the first time. Tony, Richard, Carlos, and Jacob have done a tremendous job realizing an incredible world and telling it’s story. It’s fitting that our publishing venture with Heavy Metal would begin with a space faring time travel adventure!” 

Satriani’s new comic book will also feature a companion collectible figure of Satriani himself as an added bonus. The action figure features Satriani in a Tri-Driver suit from the comic book, along with his signature Ibanez guitar. The figure will retail for MSRP of $29.95. Pre-orders for the action figure are open.

More information on Crystal Planet is available online now along with all of Satriani’s tour dates in support of Shapeshifting is available online now at:

Websitehttp://www.satriani.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/joesatriani

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/chickenfootjoe

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

Pop Singer-Songwriter’s New LP Is The Best Of 2020’s Best In Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Albums List

Courtesy: Wicked Cool Records

The musical universe spawned so much great music this year. From rock to rap to pop to country, jazz, and even family music, the musical universe gave audiences a lot to like about 2020.  For all of the entertaining and engaging music that was released this year some proved to be the best of its given categories.  Not all of that music could be the best of the best though.  Only certain records could obtain that title, and they come this year from a wide range of genres.  The Okee Dokee Brothers and their new album Songs For Singin’ are here among the best of the best in Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Albums of the Year.  They are joined by new albums from the likes of Sons of Apollo, Ricky Byrd, and The Devonns among others.  Topping this year’s list of the best of the best is Jessie Wagner’s new album Shoes Droppin’. 

As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, the Year’s top new albums list features the year’s Top 10 new albums and give honorable mentions for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Albums of the Year.

PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS OF THE YEAR

  1. Jessie Wagner – Shoes Droppin’
  2. Chris Stapleton —  Starting Over
  3. Sons of Apollo – MMXX
  4. Yellowackets – Jackets XL
  5. U.D.O. – We Are 1
  6. Ricky Byrd – Sobering Times
  7. Deep Purple – Whoosh!
  8. The Devonns – The Devonns
  9. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts V
  10. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts VI
  11. Joe Bonamassa – Royal Tea
  12. The Okee Dokee Brothers – Songs For Singin
  13. The Tibbs – Another Shot Fired
  14. Ala.ni – ACCA
  15. Ben Harper – Winter is for Lovers

Now that all the music lists are done, it is on to the DVD and Blu-ray releases.  Up first in that side of things is the year’s Top 10 New Documentaries.  Stay tuned for that.

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

Deep Purple’s Latest And Likely Last Album Tops Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Rock Albums List

Courtesy: earMUSIC

The year 2020 threw a lot of misery and negativity at the world.  Between the seemingly endless issues raised as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the political problems that plagued America and the world, and some of the most respected names in the industry passing, there has been more than enough for us to never speak of 2020 again when it ends.  For all of that negativity and misery that the world has seen this year though, there actually has been at least some positive in the form of new music from so many acts.  The lists compiled already recently by Phil’s Picks and other outlets have more than supported that statement.  That new music includes new albums from lots of new and established rock acts, such as Deep Purple, Faith & Scars, and even Nine Inch Nails.  All three acts are featured in this year’s list of Phil’s Picks Top 10 New Rock Albums.  Their musical and lyrical content collectively (and sometimes by themselves) prove them fully deserving of their spots on this (and any critic’s) list.

As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the Top 10 new titles in the given category and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Rock Albums.

PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW ROCK ALBUMS

  1. Deep Purple – Whoosh!
  2. Nick Perri & The Underground Thieves – Sun Via
  3. Derek Sherinian – The Phoenix
  4. Ricky Byrd – Sobering Times
  5. Joe Satriani – Shapeshifting
  6. Pearl Jam – Gigaton
  7. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts V
  8. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts VI
  9. Soul Asylum – Hurry Up and Wait
  10. Shadow and the Thrill – Sugarbowl
  11. Faith & Scars – Revolver
  12. Jason Kui – Naka
  13. Michael Abdow – Heart Signal
  14. Horisont – Sudden Death
  15. Night – High Tides Distant Skies

Next up from Phil’s Picks is 2020’s Top New Hard rock & Metal Albums.  Stay tuned for that.

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

‘Sobering Times’ Succeeds Through Its Musical Diversity, Lyrical Duality

Courtesy: Kayos Records

Veteran singer-songwriter Ricky Byrd has made quite the name for himself throughout his professional life.  He has worked with some of the most well-known and respected artists and acts in the music industry, not the least of which being Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.  He also has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Mavis Staples, Ian Hunter (Deep Purple), Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Elvis Costello, and so many other well-respected figures in the music industry.  During his extensive stint as a member of The Blackhearts, Byrd battled drug and alcohol addiction, eventually leading to him getting clean in sober in 1987.  That battle and recovery led him to take on the topic in 2017 in his third album Clean Getaway.  Now more than three years after its release, Byrd is addressing the issue again in his latest album Sobering Times.  Scheduled for release Friday, the 12-song record is a strong companion piece and follow-up to Sobering Times.  That is due to its musical and lyrical content, which clearly build on the foundation formed in Clean Getaway.  ‘I Come Back Stronger,’ which comes just ahead of the album’s midpoint, is one way in which the album shows how that musical and lyrical content makes this record such a strong presentation.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Ain’t Gonna Live Like That’ is another way in which the album’s combined musical and lyrical content come together to engage and entertain audiences.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Together’ is one more way in which the album’s overall content shines.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of this record, the album in whole becomes one of those rare records that is worth hearing start to end without stopping.

Ricky Byrd’s fourth full-length studio recording Sobering Times is a positive new offering from the veteran singer-songwriter-guitarist.  That is proven through the record’s musical and lyrical content.  ‘I Come Back Stronger’ is one of the songs that serves to support the noted statements.  That is proven in part through the song’s musical arrangement.  The arrangement is a gentle, acoustic work that lends itself partially to thoughts of works from Bruce Springsteen.  At the same time, there is also a touch of country music incorporated into the song.  The way that the song slowly builds from its early bars through the first half to its climax and progresses to its confident second half serves well to translate the message and emotion in the song’s lyrical content.  Speaking of that lyrical content, it is engaging in its own right.

As noted, the songs featured in Byrd’s new album focus on the topic of addition, just as with the album’s predecessor.  While the song’s lyrical theme centers on the matter of overcoming addiction, it is also about taking on the issues that come with overcoming addiction.  Interestingly enough in this case, this song’s lyrical content could just as easily be about facing life’s difficulties, not just because of the battle to overcome addiction.  To that end, the song’s lyrical content adds to its impact.  The manner in which Byrd delivers his message here also adds to the impact.  Byrd sings in the song’s lead verse, “Life is a lesson we all live and learn/All the ups and the downs/And the roadblocks that get in the way/Trying to find myself/I got bruised and hurt/But I survived it all/And it made me the person I am today/Every time I fall/I come back stronger/I was broken once/But not any longer.”  The energy in the arrangement as the song reaches that climax in the chorus and the intensity with which Byrd states, “I come back stronger” is a defining moment for the song.  The impact in the message remains as strong as ever from there as Byrd enters the song’s second verse.  He sings in this verse, “When life hands you keys/That just won’t open up any doors/And you’re stuck in a rut/Feeling desperate/Down to the core/It’s the faith you find along the way/That always gets you through/I face my fears a thousand times/Every time I do/I come back stronger.”  Looking back at all of this, the message and story presented in this song is a powerful presentation of why the song is such an important addition to Byrd’s new album.  It is just one of the songs that shows what makes Byrd’s new album such a success.  ‘Ain’t’ Gonna Live Like That’ is another notable way in which the album shows its strength.

‘Ain’t Gonna Live Like That’ adds to the presentation of Sobering Times because its musical arrangement stands apart from those of the album’s other works.  This time Byrd offers audiences a powerful 12-bar blues work in the style of John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  The addition of the gospel style choral accompaniment to the arrangement adds eve more to the song’s impact, as does the light, subtle addition of the piano line at points.  The whole is a presentation that any true music lover will appreciate and that shows in its own way, the diversity in the album’s musical presentation.  The song’s lyrical content, will appeal to blues fans just as much as the musical arrangement.  That is especially the case considering that much blues lyrical content in fact centers on the matter of dealing with a matter such as addiction and the negative influences in life, just like this song.

The lyrical content featured in this song comes from the vantage point of someone who has been down the troubled road and has learned from the experiences of that journey.  He sings in the song’s lead verse, “lady or the tiger/What’s behind the door/I know one just might kill me/But I just got to get some more/The Devil’s dealin’ aces/’Cause he knows just what you need/To keep you in the alley/Beggin’ bargains on your knees/But I ain’t gonna live that/No more, no more/Hell is living for the need and the score”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Workin’ hard ain’t nothin’/Just fixin’ for a hit/Crawlin’ from the consequences/Swearin’ this is it/Lie beges a lie/And truth is layin’ low/My bull****’s thick with every trick/To get me where I got to go/But I ain’t gonna live like that/No more, no more/Hell is living for the need and the score/But I ain’t gonna live like that no more.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “Comin’ to it’s 5 p.m./I woke up three times today…Cold, tired and need some strength to get me off the ground/I pray you help me turn this down/And turn ths life around/’Cause I ain’t gonna live like that/No more, no more/Hell is livin’ for the need and the score/And I ain’t gonna live like that/No more, no more.”  Again, the topic of fighting drug addiction is nothing new to the blues, so to have such a familiar topic coupled with an equally familiar musical style makes for even more enjoyment.  Taking that into consideration, the song becomes that much clearer an example of what makes Sobering Times an enjoyable record.  It is just one more of the songs that shows why this record deserves attention.  ‘Together’ does its own share to show the album’s appeal, too.

‘Together’ takes audiences back to the 1960s with its Beatles-esque arrangement, complete with scratchy vocals, steady floor tom beat and snare, and vocal melodies.  At the same time, the song features its own bluesy influence alongside that classic rock sound.  The whole is a unique musical presentation that once again, shows the diversity in this album’s musical content.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical positive lyrical content adds even more interest to the song.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘Together’ is clear.  It delivers and promotes a message of unity for audiences. That is made clear right from the song’s outset as Byrd sings, “Have you ever found yourself  desperate for salvation/Prayin’ in the dark/For the light to guide you away/Searchin’ for answers/That just lead to more questions/You might need a little help…I used to keep my pain well-hidden/As far as you know/I’m fine as fine can be/I never let the world know/I was hurtin’/That kind of thinking was almost the death of me/We’re in this together/No need to go it alone/A helping hand when you can’t get there on your own/A body needs somebody/We can always use a friend/A little bit of loving/When the ice is getting’ thin.”  The message is made just as clear in the song’s second verse as Byrd sings, “You might think you’re the only one feeling what you’re feeling/There’s a whole lot of people out there hitting that same wall/Crawling from the wreckage/But going back for seconds/You run that…til you just can’t run anymore/I learned the hard way/ There’s strength in numbers/’Cause I tried to win a war all by myself/Side-by-sde and shoulder to shoulder/We’ll beat that devil right back to hell/We’re in this together/ No need to go it alone/A helping hand when you can’t get there on your own/A body needs somebody/We can always use a friend/A little bit of loving/When the ice is getting’ thin.”  This is a message that America and the world needs right now more than ever.  Sure it applies, again, with the matter of fighting addiction, but it also works in addressing the current state of the nation and world.  To that end, that duality in this message strengthens the song’s lyrical presentation even more.  When this is considered along with the strength created through the duality in the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the album’s lyrical content proves that much more critical to its presentation.  When the lyrical content is considered with the diverse musical content featured throughout the album, that whole makes completely clear why Sobering Times is a record that every music lover will appreciate.  In turn, it becomes one more of this year’s top new overall albums.

Ricky Byrd’s latest album Sobering Times is a powerful new presentation from the veteran singer-songwriter-musician.  That is proven in part through the record’s diverse musical content.  That content will appeal to fans of the blues, classic rock and rock in general.  The album’s lyrical themes present their own importance through their duality.  On one hand, they address battles with addiction and the recovered from said concern.  On the other hand, they can just as easily be related to life in general.  All of the songs addressed here serve to support the noted statements.  When they are considered along with all of the album’s other songs, the whole of that content unites to make the album in whole a strong new offering from Byrd that is also one more of this year’s top new albums overall and top new rock albums.  Sobering Times is scheduled for release Friday through Kayos Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Byrd’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.RickyByrd.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ricky.byrd1

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Byrdman20

 

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

Ace Frehley’s New Record Is The Exception To The Rule About Covers Compilations

Courtesy: eOne

Covers collections are a dime a dozen.  From one genre within the bigger musical universe to the next, they are overly abundant offerings.  There is no denying that in the bigger picture of things, covers collections are little more than space fillers used by acts for the purpose of fulfilling contractual obligations between new albums.  Many of those albums are that and little more.  However, every now and then at least one rarity rises above the rest to do at least a little more, and actually show some value.  Ace Frehley’s latest covers compilation is one of those rarities.  Released Friday through eOne, the 12-song record stands out in part because of its featured covers.  This will be discussed shortly.  The performances of the songs play their own part in the album’s presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The production that went into the record rounds out its most important elements and will be addressed later, too.  Each noted item is important in its own right to the whole of the collection.  All things considered, they make Frehley’s latest space filler a work that will appeal to plenty of classic rock fans.

Ace Frehley’s latest covers compilation, released Friday through eOne, is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new space fillers.  That is because unlike its counterparts, it actually proves itself to actually be worth at least some value.  That is due in part to the record’s featured songs.  While there are some notable works featured in the record from some very well-known bands, there are also some lesser-known deep cuts from those bands, too.  Mountain’s ‘Never in my Life’ is an example of one of those deep cuts.  The band is well-known, and while Climbing!, the album in which the song is featured, is considered a hit for Mountain, the song itself was never considered to be one of the album’s biggest hits.  ‘I’m Down,’ which was a b-side to The Beatles’ hit song ‘Help!,’ is another example of Frehley including a lesser-known work from a big name band in this record.  Cream’s ‘Politician’ is yet another example of the noted lesser-known songs featuring in this record.  While the album in which the song is featured – Wheels of Fire – is the world’s first platinum-selling double album, the song was never used as a single.  To that end, it is more of a deep cut.

On the other end of the spectrum, works, such as The Rolling Stones’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s ‘Manic Depression’ and Deep Purple’s ‘Space Truckin’’ (whose lyrics Frehley changes slightly here when he sings, “we’re space ace truckin’) are examples of the more well-known works featured in the album.  Between these songs and the lesser-known pieces is in reality a little bit of a rock music history lesson.  Audiences get to learn about some big name bands (I.E. The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin) and those who were more mid-level (Mountain, Paul Revere & The Raiders) while also getting a starting point on discussions on the acts and their catalogs.  What’s more, being that those lesser-known works are rarely if ever played on corporate terrestrial radio and are just as rarely presented in other acts’ covers compilations, their inclusion adds to their importance.  Keeping all of this in mind, the compilation’s featured songs actually prove at least some value to its presentation.

While the songs featured in Frehley’s new covers set present at least some value, the performances of said songs plays just as much importance if not more.  That is because while Frehley and his fellow musicians do stay at least somewhat true to their source material throughout the record, they  also give the songs a new updated sound.  Case in point is the group’s performance of The Rolling Stones’ hit song ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.’  The Rolling Stones’ original composition is energetic in its own right, and the band’s live performances of the song step things up in the song even more.  Frehley and company’s version here however really amps things up.  Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards’ guitars are replaced in this case by that of Frehley and guitar goddess Lita Ford.  The duo also takes on Mick Jagger’s vocals jointly and definitely take things collectively in a whole new direction.  It should be noted that Ford does drop some f-bombs here, so some listener discretion is advised.  Honestly, its disappointing that Ford would work blue here since the original song did not need any foul language in order to be enjoyable.  Charlie Watts’ steady, subtle time keeping has even been replaced by an equally heavy drum line here.  Simply put, the performance in whole does stay true to the source material in terms of sound, but in terms of style it is a completely different song.  So that is certain to generate its own share of interest and discussion among listeners.

The group’s take on The Animals’ ‘We Gotta Get Outta Here’ is another example of the importance of the performances of the featured songs here.  The Animals’ original rendition of the song was grounded in its bass line and vocals.  In the case of Frehley and company’s take on the song, Frehley takes on the bass line, using the guitar instead for that famous line.  Between that, the semi-operatic vocal delivery and the bombastic drumming, the whole of the song takes on a distinctly 80s hair metal vibe that echoe the sounds of KISS (no surprise there) instead of presenting the song in its more subdued original presentation.  At the same time, considering that the song’s lyrical content focuses on a relationship matter and “needing to get out of this place,” the song’s energy in this presentation does seem to work in its own right.  To that end, it is sure to generate its own share of interest and engagement.

On another hand, the performance of The Beatles’ I’m Down’ stays almost true stylistically to its source material.  Yes, it’s amped up compared to the original, but compared to let’s say The Beatles’ performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, this performance actually echoes that performance relatively well, even despite being so amped up.  As a matter of fact, this performance is actually a step up from the Beatles’ original song.  That is not to say that The Beatles’ original is bad by any means.  That should not be misconstrued.  Rather, Frehley and company took a song that was great to begin with and stepped it up, improving upon it even more.  Between this performance, the others noted here and the rest of the collection’s performances, it can be said that the performances pose their own importance to the record’s presentation just as much as the songs themselves.  The performances are just one more part of what makes the collection worth hearing, too.  Its production rounds out its most important elements.

The production of Origins Volume 2 is important to note for the very reason that has already been raised in examining the performance of the record’s featured songs:  the performances take the original songs from decades ago and really amp them up.  This is important because in so many of the songs, there is a lot more going on than in these works than the originals.  In other words, there is more need to balance all of the elements to ensure each song presents the fullest performance.  Those behind the record’s production are to be applauded for their efforts, too.  For all that is going on in each song, the guitars, bass, vocals, and drums are quite well balanced.  The energy is transmitted just as well because of that expert work that went into balancing each element within each song.  The end result is an album that works just as well for its aesthetics as for its content.  When this is considered along with the record’s content and the performances therein, the result is a covers collection that while it is a covers set, actually proves itself worth hearing at least once if not more.

Ace Frehley’s new covers compilation Origins Volume 2 is an interesting follow-up to his 2016 set Origins Volume 1.  That is due in part to its featured songs.  The songs are a balance of well-known works and deep cuts.  They and the bands that performed them can actually serve as a starting point on discussions about rock’s modern history.  That is actually a positive in its own right.  The performances of the featured songs is important to this record because they stay true to their source material in terms of sound, but stylistically, they clearly show Frehley’s own influence, what with the overly bombastic nature of each performance.  That is certain to generate its own share of discussion among audiences.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  That is because it ensures for all of the elements going on in each song, those elements are well-balanced, making the record just as worth hearing for this aesthetic element as for its content.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the compilation a presentation that is the exception to the rule for covers compilations.  It is available now.  More information on the set is available along with all of Ace Frehley’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.acefrehley.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/officialacefrehley

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Ace_Frehley

 

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If ‘Whoosh!’ Is Deep Purple’s Last Album, Then It Sends The Band Out At The Top Of Its Game

Courtesy: earMUSIC

More than fifty years ago, Deep Purple started on a road that would eventually make it one of the most popular and revered acts in the music business.  This Friday, the end of that road will start coming into view when the band releases its 21st and possibly last album, Whoosh!  If in fact the album is the band’s last, then it is a presentation of the band going out on top.  That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly.  Its lyrical themes play into its presentation just as much as its musical arrangements.  They will be discussed a little later.  The album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Whoosh! one of this year’s top new rock albums without question.

Deep Purple’s forthcoming new album Whoosh! is an unquestioned success for the veteran rock band.  From beginning to end, the 51-minute album offers audiences plenty to appreciate, beginning with its musical arrangements.  The arrangements by and large present a sound and approach that is classic Deep Purple.  At the same time, the album also shows the band moving in a new direction, giving hope that maybe, just maybe this album does not mark the beginning of the end for the band.  Of the album’s vintage style works, one of the most notable is ‘The Long Way Round,’ which comes late in the album’s nearly hour-long run.  Guitarist Steve Morse and bassist Roger Glover form the foundation for the song’s arrangement while keyboardist Don Airey, drummer Ian Paice and front man Ian Gillan add their own touches to the song.  Between Morse’s straight forward riffs Paice’s equally simple, straight forward drumming, Airey’s approach on the keys and Gillan’s expertly honed vocals, the whole sounds like a work that would fit on any of the band’s existing records.  Much the same can be said of the bluesy arrangement at the center of ‘No Need To Shout.’  This song’s arrangement is another direct throwback to Deep Purple’s catalog in so many ways.  ‘Dancing in my Sleep’ meanwhile is more of a modern work that mixes some prog elements with its traditional rock side.  The best explanation that can be made is that it has a bit of a bluesy, prog-fusion sound in its arrangement that stands out from most of the band’s existing body of work.  It holds its own so well alongside the rest of the album’s songs and in turn proves its own worth in the bigger picture of the album’s musical content.  When all of this content is considered along with the rest of the album’s musical content, the whole of said content makes this aspect clearly a key aspect to Whoosh!  It is just one of the album’s most important elements.  The record’s lyrical content adds its own share of appeal to its presentation.

The lyrical themes that are featured in Whoosh! are largely social commentaries.  Case in point is the song ‘Drop The Weapon.’  It comes across as a commentary about the level of violence that is happening in the world today.  As Gillan sings in the song’s lead verse, “Everybody’s shouting/Working up a sweat/Steppin’ on the lines/You know what happens next/More trouble/Than anyone can use/It’s a predetermined thing/You lose your right to choose/No way to turn it around/You’ve got no more time to calm yourself down/Once you push the button,  man/It’s comin’ to a head/Pretty soon, babe/You’ll be a long time dead/Little brother, I’m telling you now/Your pride can take a hit/Little brother/Take a breath/Cool off, man/Forget about it/Drop the weapon/Kick it away/Drop your gun the other way/Drop the weapon/Live another day/Drop you blade/Listen to what I say.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Who you trying to impress…You just a small kid/Now you’re reputation got a minor stain/It’ll be washed away by tomorrow’s rain.”  From there, Gillan makes note of “streets of violence”, again making clear the statement here.  This is a reaction to the violence that has ravaged America and the world.  It is a heavy topic to take on, but the band has done an impressive job of handling it here.  It’s just one way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so pivotal to its presentation.  ‘Nothing At All’ is another key example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.

‘Nothing At All’ comes across as a statement about what has happened to the planet in general and how humans have impacted the Earth.  In fact Gillan made mention of that in a recent interview, noting that the song is a reaction to the lack of concern that humans are showing for the planet.  He sings in the song’s lead verse, “I’m talking to myself again/Waving to a passing friend I’ve known since I don’t know when/Just a few of us walk arm in arm/It’s innocent and charming/The children seem to be getting alarmed/Don’t worry kids/It’s nothing at all/When I hear about the doom and gloom that’s around the corner and coming soon/I take a sip of mother’s ruin and sit with my back to the wall/It’s nothing at all/And the old lady smiled/It’s nothing at all/And she blew all the leaves off my tree.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “And the junk that sails our seven seas/Is very nearly up to my knees/But the platitudes and pleasantries/Keep saying it’s nothing at all/I’ll deal with it on another day/If I close my eyes it’ll go away/So bottoms up, boys, and what do you say/Really it’s nothing at all.”  Gillan’s commentary is proven without doubt here.  It is a sharp, yet playful indictment of the indifference that so much of the world seems to have taken in regards to the direction that things have taken and that they are taking around the world.  It’s a theme that is certain to resonate with listeners, and just one more example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.  ‘Man Alive’ is one more example of that importance.

‘Man Alive’ is a somewhat post apocalyptic song, and makes its own statement.  Gillan talked about the song’s theme in an interview with Billboard, noting that it asks the questions, “what is the use of one man?”  The song uses the noted post apocalyptic setting in which that one man is the only living human on Earth to raise the question.  It really is a deep concept.  Gillan sings in the song’s lead verse, “All creatures great and small/Graze on blood red soil/And grass that grows on city streets/It’s been a quiet town/Since the juice went down/Now something’s washed up/On the beach/A man alive.”  From there, the story is told about how mankind was erased from the planet.  The song’s video adds in imagery of a nuclear power plant, garbage, and chemicals being pumped into the air to help illustrate and translate that bigger message of what one person can do.  This song is, overall, a lyrical discussion on being more aware of everything happening and taking the time to make a difference in any way possible.  It goes hand in hand with so much other lyrical content featured in this album. It is just as engaging as that noted other content.  When all of the album’s lyrical content is featured together, it leaves zero doubt as to the role that it plays in the bigger picture of Whoosh!  It all proves to be just as important to the album’s presentation as the record’s musical arrangements.  The two elements together more than make the album worth hearing.  Of course they are not the album’s only important elements.  Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing of Whoosh! is critical to its presentation because it does just as much to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the album’s content.  On one hand, listeners are led to believe that the record may in fact be sequenced as a concept album of sorts.  That is inferred as the album’s booklet (and track listing in the album’s case) separates the album’s tracks into two “acts.”  The first act is composed of the album’s six songs and the second its next six.  The bonus track ‘Dancing in my Sleep’ serves as its own standalone song.  While this critic has not succeeded in finding any discussion on whether that was intentional, it can only be inferred that dividing the album in such fashion would make it exactly that, even though band member Ian Gillan has said the album’s title does not bear any significance.  The clear messages in the album’s lyrical themes would hint that this likely was intended to maybe not be a traditional concept album, but a concept album nonetheless.  Maybe it is meant to deliver a dozen songs that tell the overall story of where the world might be headed, considering again the lyrical content.

On another level the album’s sequencing ensures its energy remains relatively stable from start to end.  There are some stylistic changes here and there, such as in ‘Nothing At All,’ ‘Step By Step,’ and ‘Man Alive’ that help to break up the album and keep things interesting.  ‘Man Alive’ is especially interesting because it has higher energy moments and more reserved moments all within its five minute, 36 second run.  Keeping it in mind along with the songs that are more up-tempo throughout the album, the whole of the album’s energy rises and falls at all of the right points.  What’s more, it keeps the album’s lyrical themes changing up from one to the next, making for even more interest.  Keeping this in mind along with the importance of this album’s overall content, the whole of it all makes Whoosh! a powerful new offering from one of rock’s most respected (and rightfully so) acts.  If it is indeed the band’s finale, then it is a fond farewell for the band.

Deep Purple’s 21st and potentially last album Whoosh! is a welcome return for the band.  There is rumor that this could be the band’s final album.  If indeed that is the case, it shows the band is going out at the top of its game.  That is proven in part through its musical arrangements, which present audiences with familiar musical approaches but unique arrangements in their own right.  The album’s lyrical themes presents some through provoking lyrical themes, adding even more to the album’s appeal.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements, making for an aesthetic appeal just as much as appeal for content.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this record.  All things considered, they make Whoosh! one of the best of this year’s new rock albums.  The album is scheduled for release Friday through earMUSIC.

More information on Whoosh! is available online along with all of Deep Purple’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttp://www.deep-purple.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/officialdeeppurple

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/_DeepPurple

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

Fore Announces New Album Release Date, Specs; Debuts New LP’s Fifth Single

Courtesy: Infecting Cells PR

Punk rock super group Fore announced more details about its forthcoming album this week.

The band revealed the title, cover art, release date and track listing for its new album Tuesday.  The band — Christian “Speesy” Giesler (ex-Kreator), Jermaine Kling (Venom Prison, Masscare, The Absence), Taylor Nordberg (Masscare, The Absence) and Brian Stephenson (Old James, Skull Fist) — announced its debut album will be titled Hombres and its release date is scheduled for Aug. 7.

The album’s cover art features the band’s members against Mount Rushmore a la Deep Purple’s cover art for its landmark 1970 album Deep Purple in Rock.  the album’s title could be argued to be a tribute of sorts to ZZ Top.

Nordberg talked about the album’s forthcoming release in a recent interview.

“I’m beyond excited to release this album, said Nordberg.  “It has been a blast creating it with such talented and easy-to-work-with musicians, and it’s a great feeling to do it all in-house, without any help from any management or label. You may be wondering about the album cover. Well we always wanted to collaborate with our buds in ZZ Top and Deep Purple but our schedules never lined up so we figured this was the next best thing.”

In anticipation of the album’s upcoming release, Fore has debuted another new single from the 11-song record in the form of ‘Diagnosis.’  The song, which is the album’s opener, is the album’s fifth single.  Previously, the band released the singles ‘Pet,’ ‘Song For A Friend,’ ‘What’s Right For You’ and ‘Today We Rise (No Tomorrow)’ through its official Bandcamp page.

The album’s track listing is noted below.

 

“Hombres” track listing:

Diagnosis

What’s Right For You

Churchill Quote

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Song For A Friend

Movement

World Won’t Wait

Find A Way

All Comes Crashing

Knocked Down

Today We Rise (No Tomorrow)

 

Nordberg and Kling are mixing and mastering Fore’s debut album at their own Smoke & Mirrors Productions in Spring Hill, Fla.

More information on Fore’s forthcoming album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://forepunk.bandcamp.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/FOREpunk

 

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