‘Rainbow In The Dark’ Leaves Readers Wanting More In The Best Way Possible

Courtesy: Permuted Press

Ronnie James Dio is one of the most prolific figures in the modern history of music.  That goes without saying.  Dio fronted not one, not two, but three of the most famous and respected acts in the history of rock in Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and his own band.  While not a physically large figure on stage, his persona more than made up for that.  As his forthcoming autobiography, Rainbow in the Dark shows, his time with those bands are only a thumbnail of what is a much bigger overall career and life.  Set for release July 27 through Permuted Press, the 244-page autobiography is a rich look at the first part of Dio’s life.  The story featured therein serves as the book’s foundation and will be discussed shortly.  The story’s transitions add to the story’s appeal and will be addressed a little later.  The pictures that are incorporated into the story add a nice aesthetic element to the whole and round out the book’s most important elements.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the book.  All things considered, they make this book a welcome personal recounting of Ronnie James Dio’s life.  It will leave audiences hoping that his widow, who compiled Dio’s writings for the book, will eventually release a follow-up that completes his story.

Permuted Press’ forthcoming Ronnie James Dio biography, Rainbow in the Dark is a book that every rock and hard rock fan will enjoy.  Given, it is hardly the only biography or even autobiography ever released from any rock act, but is still fully enjoyable in its own right.  Its engagement and entertainment comes in large part through its story.  The story is told through Dio’s own words and starts in his childhood living in upstate New York.  Right from the outset, audiences learn that ultimately, Dio’s grandparents are really to thank for him becoming a musician and performer.  As he reveals here early on, they made Dio’s father and his siblings learn to play an instrument.  His own father did the same to him, too, repeating history.  If not for that, it is possible that Dio might have otherwise pursued a career in baseball.  It was this fateful event that would set Dio on a lifelong course that would eventually see him and his band mates in Elf record for Deep Purple’s own Purple Records.  Those recordings and tours with Deep Purple would eventually lead to the biggest part of his career.  The stories that Dio shares along the way are, at times laugh-inspiring in the best way possible, and at other times so dramatic.  Case in point is Dio’s recollection of the fateful night in which a crash involving a drunk driver claimed the life of one of his then band mates in Ronnie Dio and the Prophets and put his own life and that of another in jeopardy.    One of the funnier recollections shared along the way comes as Dio shares how he used his stage name (as it turns out, Dio is not his real name.  This will be left for audiences to learn for themselves.  He was in fact Italian by direct descent) at a gig during his formative years and almost got himself tied up in the mob.  Even later in the story, Dio shares another funny and albeit short anecdote about how he and Wendy Dio got used to living out of their suitcases while Dio was a member of Rainbow.  Again it is only a short statement, but still will leave plenty of people laughing.  Speaking of Wendy, she points out in the books preface that the story presented here culminates in her late, great husband debuting with his own band at Madison Square Garden in 1987.  It also opens at that point before going back to Ronnie’s childhood.  The whole story is so easy to read from start to finish because at no point do Ronnie’s notes try to be flowery.  He uses simple language that is accessible to everybody.  The result is that the story, which again spans 244 pages, can be finished in a day or two at the most.  That accessibility and the equally engaging and entertaining stories do a lot to make this (hopefully first) part of RJD’s life and career so enthralling.  The transitions that are used in telling his story play their own part in the story’s appeal.

The transitions that are used to help tell Ronnie James Dio’s story are so important because they are so clear and solid throughout the book.  That is thanks to the way that Ronnie started and ended each of his writings.  Those points perfectly connect the chapters.  Add in clear division points that involve blank pages and pictures, and the whole makes the story progress that much more smoothly.  Those blank pages and pictures are important because they feel almost like virtual commercial breaks within the story.  They, together with the solid wording connecting the stories, completely ensure readers’ maintained engagement and entertainment, showing completely, the importance of the story’s transitions.  Keeping all of this in mind, there is a lot for readers to alike about this story of Ronnie James Dio’s life and career.  It still is just a portion of what makes the story so appealing.  The noted pictures used between the chapters round out the story’s most important elements.

The pictures that are presented throughout Rainbow in the Dark are important because they honestly help to tell the story in their own right.  Case in point is an early picture of Ronnie as a boy with his parents.  Readers will note that Ronnie’s father is in a military uniform.  That might help to explain the sense that Ronnie explains he got of his father.  That sense in question is a determination to make sure one is one’s best self possible.  That is a value that the military does in fact instill in its personnel young and old alike.  A later picture of Ronnie with his band mates in Elf during the 1970s made them comparable to the look of bands, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band, and others.  Ronnie explains in the story that follows the story, a laugh-inducing anecdote about not wanting to cut those long locks, but seemingly having to in order to help market the band.  It is another way in which the pictures tie in to the story to help enrich the reading experience.  On another note, there is also a picture of Ronnie with Ritchie Blackmore in the early days of Rainbow backstage before a show.  It helps to bridge two other chapters in which Ronnie talks about that part of his career.  It is such a casual picture, clearly not staged.  Together with his own words, it showed how happy Ronnie was at that time.  Between these pictures and so many others, the pictures prove to tell the story here just as much as the story itself.  Keeping this in mind along with the impact of the smooth transitions, the whole of these noted items makes Rainbow in the Dark a fully immersive, engaging and entertaining story of one of rock’s greatest figures.

Permuted Press’ forthcoming presentation of Rainbow in the Dark is a wonderfully engaging and entertaining look into the life and career of Ronnie James Dio.  The story itself is told through Ronnie’s own words on pages up on pages of collected notes.  The stories are at times laugh-inspiring and at others heartbreaking.  Through it all, the stories are told simply, making the story fully accessible for readers.  This is in itself, reason enough for audiences to read this story.  The transitions that are used between the story[s chapters build on the appeal established by the story.  That is because of their fluidity.  The manner in which Ronnie ends and begins each story is the biggest part of that fluidity.  The blank pages and pictures used between the chapters also play into that fluidity.  That is because they allow readers a moment to take in everything before moving on to each chapter.  Speaking of the pictures, they do well as visual aids, helping to tell the story just as much as Ronnie’s own words.  In some cases, they add even more to the story.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this book.  All things considered, they make Rainbow in the Dark a story that will appeal to a wide range of readers.  The book is scheduled for release next Friday, July 27, through Permute Press.  More information on the book is available along with all of Dio’s latest news at:

Website: https://ronniejamesdio.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OfficialRJDio

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

Heaven & Earth’s Latest LP Is Imperfect, But Still Enjoyable

Courtesy: Frontiers Music s.r.l.

More than two decades have passed since Heaven & Earth released its debut album, Windows to the World.  In the time since its release, the band has released four more albums, spending four years at the least and nine at the most between their releases.  The band will match the lesser of those spans Friday when it releases it fifth album, the aptly titled V.  Set for release through Frontiers Music s.r.l., this 12-song album is imperfect but enjoyable nonetheless.  To its positive is its overall musical content, which will be discussed shortly.  The record’s production on the other hand proves somewhat problematic, but not so much so that it dooms the record.  This will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is key in its own way to the whole of the record’s production.  All things considered, V is not a complete success, but nor is it a failure.

Heaven & Earth’s aptly titled fifth album, V is an interesting new offering from the band, which has spent more than two decades establishing itself.  The album proves itself worth hearing in large part through its musical arrangements.  The arrangements exhibit a wide range of sounds and influences.  From hard rock to prog to general rock and even some 80s influence, the band offers audiences a wide range of content.  ‘Never Dream of Dying’ for instance, takes the band in a distinct prog direction.  The whole thing opens with some ominous keyboards and drums, belying that note, but as front man Gianluca Petralia’s vocals join the mix along with the guitars, the whole really develops that noted stylistic approach and sound.  Speaking in precise terms, the whole lends itself to comparison to works from Dream Theater’s early 90s albums, Images and Words and Awake.  On a completely different note, ‘Little Black Dress’ with its upbeat, bluesy arrangement, is more of an early 90s blues rock composition.  The staccato notes from the guitar, the equally tight time keeping, and pronounced bass line do well to make that clear.  It is the polar opposite of the arrangement featured in ‘Never Dream of Dying.’  This is proven even more as the song progresses and a catchy little keyboard line is added to the mix.  On yet another note, ‘Running From The Shadows’ – an even later entry in the record – lends itself to comparison to works from Deep Purple right from its outset.  It is just a solid rock composition, centered around its keyboards and drums in this case, again, just like so many works from Deep Purple.  Even the sound here is so similar to works from Deep Purple.  At the same time it still boasts its own unique identity.  Between these songs and all of the record’s other works, the whole makes clear that the musical content featured in the record is of the utmost importance to its presentation.

While the musical content plays an unquestionably important role in the album’s presentation, the album is not perfect.  There are some occasional issues with the record in terms of its production.  The issues stem from the balance of the vocals and the instrumentations.  Case in point is ‘At The End of the Day.’  The song’s arrangement features a lot of activity throughout its six-minute-plus run time.  The thing is that there is so much going on even in the softer, more contemplative verses, that the vocals sound washed out to a point.  To be more precise, there is a certain airy sense about the vocals throughout, requiring an even closer listen.  The more active moments require even more of an increase in that attention.  Much the same can be said of its predecessor, ‘Nothing To Me,’ the album’s penultimate track.  That slight issue with the imbalance is just as pronounced here.  Maybe it is just the speakers on this critic’s playback system, maybe not.  If not, then this is still something of a concern, especially being that is evidenced in the album’s opener, ‘Drive,’ and to a lesser extent, ‘One In A Million Man.’  So it is not like this is a confined concern.  It seems to happen at various points in the album, enough so that it is noticeable.  Again, maybe the issue stems from the speakers on this critic’s playback device.  However, that it only seems to happen at those given points says otherwise.  Even with this in mind, it still is not enough to make the album a failure.  The record’s sequencing works with the diversity in its musical arrangements to make the record even more appealing.

This record’s sequencing is important to its presentation because it keeps the album’s energy flowing throughout for the most part.  Even in slightly more relaxed moments, such as in the bluesy ‘Poverty’ and the funky Chickenfoot-esque ‘Flim Flam Man’ the album’s energy still remains stable as the songs are still moving even despite being slower.  The only point at which the record really pulls back is in ‘At The End of the Day.’  The reserved feel and tone of this song is in direct contrast to everything else featured in the record.  It honestly might have been better placed somewhere else in the album, considering this.  More specifically, it might have been better suited somewhere closer to the record’s midpoint, in order to break up the album, especially considering the general pacing.  It would have provided audiences more moment to catch their breath.  Either way, the sequencing is still relatively strong here even with this in mind.  Keeping that in mind along with the diversity in the songs’ arrangements, the album in whole still has much to offer audiences.  All things considered, these aspects and the mixed production makes V imperfect, but still enjoyable.

Heaven & Earth’s forthcoming album V is a valiant new offering from the band.  It does offer plenty for audiences to appreciate, such as the diversity in its musical arrangements.  That diversity includes arrangements that exhibit prog influence, as well as blues and pure guitar rock.  It is spread out throughout the album, ensuring that this aspect alone keeps audiences engaged and entertained.  While the diversity in the album’s arrangements offers plenty for audiences to appreciate, the songs’ production is slightly problematic.  There are points throughout the album when the vocals seem somewhat washed out by the instrumentation.  Thankfully this does not happen so much that it dooms the album, though it cannot be ignored.  The record’s sequencing works with the arrangements to add even more appeal.  That is because it keeps the album’s energy fluid throughout.  The only negative to the sequencing comes at its end, with the much more reserved closer.  It is the only truly misplaced addition to the record in regards to the sequencing, so it is also not enough to doom the album.  Keeping all of this in mind, the pros and cons present throughout the album make it imperfect but still enjoyable in its own right.  V is scheduled for release Friday through Frontiers Records s.r.l.

More information on V is available online now along with all of Heaven & Earth’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttps://www.heavenandearthband.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/officialheavenandearth

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/heavenearthband

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

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

 

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