‘Quantum Leap’ Is A Largely Successful New Offering From Gus G.

Courtesy: AFM Records

Firewind founder and guitarist Gus G. is quoted from a recent interview as saying of his new album, Quantum Leap, that he “didn’t make it with the intention of it being the next one in the cycle of solo albums.  It was more of a case of, ‘What else is there?’ I needed the creative outlet.”  One of so many albums created during the downtime forced on acts by the COVID-19 pandemic, audiences will be glad that he crafted the album regardless.  That is due in large part to its general presentation, which will be discussed shortly.  While the album’s general presentation makes the record a strong new offering, the recording is not perfect.  The production in the live content detracts from the presentation to a point.  This will be discussed a little later.  Speaking of production, the production of the album’s first half offsets the impact of the production in the album’s second half and makes the album that much more enjoyable.  The end result of this is that the album in whole proves to be one more of the year’s top new rock and hard rock/metal albums.

Gus G.’s new solo album, Quantum Leap is a mostly successful new presentation from the veteran guitarist.  That is due in large part to its general presentation.  The general presentation finds the 18-song record divided into two separate discs.  The first disc is composed of 11 original new songs that the guitarist (formally known as Konstantinos Karamitroudis) crafted during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The second disc is composed of seven live tracks, at least two of which are covers (one a Thin Lizzy cover, the other a Dire Straits work).  The live songs were all from a concert that Karamitroudis held in 2018 in Budapest.  Two of the songs – ‘Fearless’ and ‘Cold Sweat’ – were featured in his 2019 digital-only EP, Live in Budapest.  The other five songs are other performances featured in the concert, but just not in the EP.  Ironically, the other two songs from the EP are not featured among the live songs in this bonus live material.  Sure, it would have been nice for audiences to have had those songs, for a total count of nine live performances, but at least audiences get seven.  To that end, audiences cannot complain too much.

Getting back to the topic of the main record, the material that makes up its body is both new and archived material that Karamitroudis had stored away unfinished from however long ago.  Karamitroudis composed and recorded most of the instrumentation in this record, save for the drums.  He was joined by drummer Vincent Velasco for the recording.  Velasco’s work is solid throughout and offers just the right musical “spice,” too.  Just as interesting is that Karamitroudis was quoted during an interview promoting the album, that he had to step back from his typical approach (IE lots of extensive guitar solos and work, really in-depth arrangements).  Instead, he allowed himself to write and create more freely.  The result is wonderful.  There are songs that fit just as well here on any Firewind album (E.g. ‘Demon Stomp,’ and ‘Enigma of Life’) as would fit on one of Joe Satriani’s albums.  The more Satriani work comes in the form of the album’s opener, ‘Leap Into The Unknown’ and ‘Not Forgotten.’  There is even some hint of influence from fellow guitar virtuoso Marty Friedman peppered in through songs, such as ‘Force Majure’ and ‘Exosphere.’  As if all of that is not enough, the sort of “new agey” approach and sound of ‘Night Driver’ with its keyboards, is a throwback to that familiar hair metal sound of the 80s.  It will appeal to specific audiences in its own right.  Simply put, the works crafted for the album’s main body are diverse and unique from one another throughout its run.  The wide appeal that it will certainly generate couples with the appeal from the record’s companion live material to make for even more engagement and entertainment.  In other words, audiences get the best of both worlds here in the best way possible.  They get a new, impressive studio recording, and a healthy compliment of live material in lien of a live performance, since the COVID-19 pandemic put Karamitroudis’ live plans on hold.  Keeping all of this in mind, the album’s general presentation creates a strong, solid foundation for the record.  Of course while the album’s general presentation is undeniably important to its appeal, the album is not perfect.  There is a slight issue raised as a result of the live material’s production.

The production is slightly problematic because of the lack of balance in the instrumentation and vocals.  The vocals in the live show were performed by Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Unisonic).  Maybe it is just this critic’s own hearing, but it seems throughout the songs with vocals, Ward’s performance is washed out by Gus G.’s work and that of drummer Johan Nunez (Firewind, ex-Kamelot).  Ward’s vocals sound so distant, as if his mic was not turned on.  Whether that was accidental is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, it forces audiences to turn up the volume and listen closely to be able to hear Ward.  This is disappointing, but is not enough of a dent to make the live material a failure.  That is because not every song has vocals.  To that end, the album’s live material still helps play into the album’s success, despite the one noted concern.

Considering that the production in the album’s live material is not enough to doom the record, there is at least one more item to note here to the record’s positive.  That item is the production of the album’s primary content.  As noted already, Karamitroudis admitted in an interview promoting his new album, that he had to take a new, unfamiliar approach to composing and performing in Quantum Leap.  That approach included not only taking different approaches in the songs, but also making sure that each part works well with each other.  That is because so much is still going on in each song.  Ward, who also mixed and mastered the album, deserves his own share of applause.  He clearly paid painstaking attention to each instrument’s place within each arrangement.  He made sure that every part complimented the others and balanced each song in whole.  That work and that of Karamistroudis came together and made the album in whole just as successful for its aesthetics as for its content.  When this and the album’s content are considered together, the whole makes Quantum Leap another impressive offering from Gus G. that is among the best of not only the year’s new rock albums, but hard rock and metal albums, too.

Gus G.’s recently released album, Quantum Leap is an impressive presentation that will appeal equally to his fans, those of Firewind, and rock and hard rock fans alike.  The record’s success is due in large part to its general presentation.  The general presentation gives audiences the best of both worlds with a new studio album and live recording in one.  The studio recording gives audiences a new studio presentation while the new live recording gives audiences a nice concert experience in lieu of a live, in-person show from Gus G. as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The general presentation gives the record a strong start, but the production in the live recording detracts from the presentation to a point.  The production proves problematic because there is an obvious problem with the balance between the instrumentation and vocals in the tracks that feature vocals.  Thankfully it is not enough to make the record in whole a failure or even the record’s live half.  The production of the record’s primary body makes up for the concerns raised through the production of the live content.  It ensures every instrument balances expertly with one another.  The result is that the studio content is fully engaging and entertaining from start to end.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s overall presentation.  All things considered, the album proves a mostly successful presentation.

Quantum Leap is available now through AFM Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Gus G.’s latest news at:

Website: https://gusgofficial.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gusgofficial

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.  

Eagle Rock Entertainment Off To A Solid Start In 2015 With Live At Knebworth

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Woodstock. Live Aid. Farm Aid. The Concert For New York City. These concerts are just some of the biggest concert events of the 20th century. As memorable and important as they are to the music industry and the history of modern popular music, they are only a small handful of the most important concerts held throughout the 20th Century. Next Tuesday, Eagle Rock Entertainment will add another concert to that list when it releases Live at Knebworth. The concert was held June 30th, 1990. Tabbed as “The Best British Rock Concert Of All Time,” it was held to raise money for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and for The Brit School For Performing Arts. Even a quarter of a century after it was originally held, it proves to be just as enjoyable a concert experience as any that have been held since, including those previously noted. One of the reasons it proves so enjoyable twenty-five years after it was originally held is its lineup. The show’s lineup consists solely of British acts, many of whom had themselves received the coveted Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef Award at one point or another. Along with the acts tapped to perform at the benefit, their choice of songs for the concert adds to the concert’s enjoyment. Having noted both the concert’s lineup and the performers’ chosen songs, they would be nothing without equally notable production values. Thankfully, the audio and video both prove to be quality even a quarter of a century after the concert was first held. The audio has even been tweaked, creating a sound that especially those with home theater systems will appreciate. The combination of all three elements in this one presentation makes the package in whole even a great start to 2015 for Eagle Rock Entertainment.

When it was originally held on June 30th, 1990, Live at Knebworth was tabbed as being “The Best British Rock Concert Of All Time.” When compared to other major concert events such as Woodstock, Live Aid, Farm Aid, and others that have been held since, it proves to be more than just “The Best British Rock Concert Of All Time.” It proves to be one of the best concerts of all time, too. One reason for the concert being bestowed both titles is its lineup of performers and acts. The concert’s lineup is composed of some of the greatest British acts of the 20th Century including but not limited to names that today are music royalty. The list includes the likes of: Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, and Genesis. Audiences will be interested to find out that many of the acts tapped for the concert also were recipients of the Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef Award. That aside, audiences will especially enjoy every act’s performance. From Clapton’s full on performance of ‘Tearin’ Us Apart’ to Paul McCartney’s emotional performance of ‘Hey Jude’ to Pink Floyd’s ethereal ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’ to its equally driving show closer ‘Run Like Hell,’ the acts chosen for this concert and their performances keep audiences fully engaged from start to finish, clearly showing the importance of their inclusion in the show.

Speaking of the songs , the songs chosen by the acts on the bill are just as important to the presentation in whole. That is because in large part, the songs chosen by each act are songs that were familiar to fans then and are just as familiar and popular with the current generation of fans. Dire Straits’ set included the hugely popular ‘Money For Nothin.’ Genesis included its beloved hit ‘Pinball Wizard’ in its set along with ‘Mama’ and ‘In The Midnight Hour’ among a number of other fan favorites. The Beatles’ ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ and ‘Hey Jude’ are even older than this recording. But they are just as popular with Beatles fans of all ages today as they were when Paul McCartney was part of the then Fab Four. So having both of those songs included in his set will create a sense of both joy and nostalgia among fans of both McCartney and the Beatles regardless of age. The sight of McCartney’s late wife Linda singing along, handling keyboard duties serves to enhance those feelings even more, this showing even more the importance of the set lists chosen by each act. Robert Plant’s mix of solo material and Led Zeppelin classics generates just as much enjoyment for anyone that has any knowledge of Plant’s career both on his own and as part of what remains one of the greatest rock bands of all time. The songs noted here are songs that are still played on classic rock radio stations across America and even the U.K. to this day. The fact that they were just as insanely popular back then as they are even today speaks volumes. It’s just a microscopic view of the impact of the acts’ set list on the enjoyment of this recording. There are plenty of other songs that could make that argument just as easily. And audiences will agree with that sentiment, even finding their own songs to make that argument when they pick up this recording for themselves next week. It still isn’t all that makes the concert so enjoyable for audiences. The quality of the footage both in terms of its video and audio lies at the base of everything. If not for the quality of the footage in both avenues, neither the acts nor their set lists and performances overall would be worth the watch.

The acts chosen for Live at Knebworth, their performances and set lists are all equally important to the concert’s overall enjoyment. However as important as each element proves to be, not one of them would be of any importance without the hard work of those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation here. Of course, being a live recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment, only the best is expected. And the best is what audiences get here. The audio has been re-worked and presented in DTS-HD. This will make anyone with a home theater system very happy as it will re-create with ear precision the feeling of actually being there. Even those without such a system will appreciate the work in question as the concert sounds just as good on a standard HDTV; especially one that allows audiences to switch to a “music” setting with their remotes. And while the original concert footage was recorded in standard definition, it doesn’t show thanks to the work of those charged with restoring the footage. Unlike so many older recordings that have been up-converted, the picture is relatively clear instead of grainy. While there is at least a little bit of that grainy look, it is hardly enough to work against the footage. Rather, it actually enhances that feeling of nostalgia created by the acts’ set lists. So to that extent, the work of those charged with restoring the concert’s footage has paid off even more than they might have known. Coupled with the set lists, the performances, and the very list of performers, the restoration work done for this concert becomes part of a whole that any classic rock fan will wholly appreciate, and that proves once more why Eagle Rock Entertainment remains today the leader in live recordings.

Live at Knebworth will be available on SD-Blu-ray next Tuesday, March 17th. Proceeds from the sale of the concert will continue to raise funds for Nordoff-Robbins Therapy and the Brit School for Performing Arts. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment 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.

Eagle Rock Entertainment Releasing Classic All-Star Benefit Concert This Spring

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release what is one of its biggest recordings to date this spring when it releases on SD Blu-ray Live at Knebworth.

Billed as “The Best British Concert Of All Time,” Live at Knebworth will be released Tuesday, March 17th on SD Blu-ray. It is presented in upscaled standard definition with uncompressed stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio. The concert was originally recorded on June 30th, 1990. It was held as a benefit concert for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and The Brit School for Performing Arts. Its lineup included some of the most well-known and respected musicians and acts from the UK. Many if not all of the acts in question had each themselves received the Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef Award. They included: Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, Elton John, Phil Collins, Genesis, Dire Straits, Tears for Fears, Cliff Richards and the Shadows, and Status Quo. Most incredible of all was that of these performers, each one performed free of charge to support the cause.

McCartney offered up renditions of ‘Hey Jude,’ ‘Birthday,’ and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ for his performance. When Clapton took to the stage, he gave audiences ‘Tearin’ Us Apart’ and ‘before You Accuse Me.’ Elton John moved audiences in his own way with performances of ‘Sad Songs (Say So Much’ and ‘Sacrifice.’ Genesis gave one of the most interesting performances of the concert with a medley of ‘Somebody to Love,’ ‘Pinball Wizard,’ and ‘Turn It On Again.’ Robert Plant was joined on-stage by his Led Zeppelin band mate Jimmy Page for performances of ‘Wearin’ and Tearin,’ and ‘Rock and Roll.’ Pink Floyd’s performances of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ and ‘Run Like Hell’ were some of the concert’s most memorable moments. And they were just some of the key moments that make up the concert’s thirty-two song concert. The concert’s complete track listing is noted below.


Tears For Fears:

1) Change

2) Badman’s Song

3) Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Cliff Richard & The Shadows:

4) On The Beach

5) Good Golly Miss Molly

6) We Don’t Talk Anymore

Phil Collins & The Serious Band:

7) In The Air Tonight

8) Sussudio

Paul McCartney:

9) Coming Up

10) Birthday

11) Hey Jude

12) Can’t Buy Me Love

Status Quo:

13) Whatever You Want

14) Rockin’ All Over The World

15) Dirty Water

16) In The Army Now

Eric Clapton:

17) Before You Accuse Me

18) Tearin’ Us Apart

Dire Straits:

19) Solid Rock

20) Think I Love You Too Much

21) Money For Nothing

Elton John:

22) Sacrifice

23) Sad Songs (Say So Much)

Robert Plant:

24) Hurting Kind

25) Tall Cool One

26) Wearing And Tearing (with Jimmy Page)

27) Rock And Roll (with Jimmy Page)


28) Mama

29) Throwing It All Away

30) Turn It On Again Medley: Turn It On Again / Somebody To Love /  Reach Out, I’ll Be There / Pinball Wizard / In The Midnight Hour / Turn It On Again (reprise)

Pink Floyd:

31) Shine On You Crazy Diamond

32) Run Like Hell


Proceeds from the sale of Live at Knebworth will continue to raise funds for Nordoff-Robbins Therapy and the Brit School for Performing Arts. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:


Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews


To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment 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.

Cason’s Latest LP Has Plenty Of “Heart”

Courtesy:  Plowboy Records

Courtesy: Plowboy Records

Singer/Songwriter Buzz Cason has spent some six decades making music. He started his career by starting the very first rock and roll band in Nashville, Tennessee. He has founded his own recording studio where greats such as Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and The Doobie Brothers have recorded hit songs among many other major names. He has also spent much of his career making his own music. He has continued making his own music up to this year. As a matter of fact, Cason released his latest record, Troubadour Heart earlier this year. The album is quite aptly titled considering Cason’s storied career. And for those audiences that might not be so familiar with Cason’s body of work, Troubadour Heart serves as quite the first impression, too. The album exhibits quite the number of influences. The laid back bluesy ‘Goin’ Back To Alabama’ presents an influence from the likes of Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, and Robert Johnson. This applies both musically and lyrically. And then there’s the southern rock styling of ‘Something I Can Dance To.’ This song shows Cason’s Nashville roots and his rock leanings at the same time. Troubadour Heart’s penultimate tune ‘Cowboys & Indians’ exhibits more of Cason’s southern rock influences. Audiences more familiar with the history of modern rock will hear tinges of Eagles and even George Thorogood to a slightly lesser extent. There are also hints of The Grateful Dead and Dire Straits peppered throughout the course of Cason’s latest release. All of these influences together make Troubadour Heart one of 2014’s more interesting new records.

Troubadour Heart is one of this year’s more interesting records. That’s because of the range of influences exhibited throughout the course of the album’s fifteen total tracks. One prime example of this comes in the laid back bluesy ‘Goin’ Back To Alabama.’ The song—the album’s only blues-influenced piece—conjures thoughts of Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, and even Robert Johnson thanks both to its music and lyrics. Cason sings of a subject reminiscing of his younger days in Alabama. He sings, “When my world/Comes unraveled/I know it’s time/For me to travel/Going ‘round the bend/Gettin’ in that Dixieland.” He goes on in the song’s chorus to sing in semi-celebratory fashion about going back to Alabama. The most interesting aspect of this song is that not only does it exhibit classic blues influence, but that guest singer Dan Penn actually sounds just like Eric Clapton. If one were to hear this song without knowing that it was Penn backing Cason here, one would swear that one was hearing Eric Clapton. The similarity between the pair’s vocals is incredible. That and the song’s easygoing lyrics and music show just why ‘Going’ to Alabama’ is such a solid example of what makes Troubadour Heart such an interesting listen.

‘Goin’ Back To Alabama’ is an excellent example of the diversity of Cason’s talent on his latest record. It is just one example of that talent, too. Another equally impressive example of that diversity is in the more up-tempo southern rock tinged song ‘Something I Can Dance To.’ It clearly reflects Cason’s early days growing up in Nashville with its sound. That up-tempo sound and the song’s lyrics—which are slightly sexually charged in their own right—make this song a perfect fit for so many country-western style bars and clubs. The energy exuded by this piece will have listeners up and dancing in no time regardless of whether or not there’s a formal dance floor.

‘Cowboys & Indians’ is the penultimate track included in Troubadour Heart’s fifteen total tracks. It is also one more fitting example of the diversity of music presented on this record. This song presents a pretty obvious country-western influence as Cason sings about a Romeo and Juliet style story. Cason’s story here presents the love story of a Native American woman falling in love with a seemingly White male. Despite the fact that one’s parents doesn’t approve of the other, the couple doesn’t let that stop them. They end up happily ever after and having their own family together. It’s a fun story and an equally fun final blast from Cason before he gently closes out the album with the aptly titled beachy tune ‘Pacific Blue.’ That final song is a fitting closer as it is one more song showing the pure vastness of Cason’s talent and influences. Having taken in this song and those mentioned before it, listeners will agree once more that Troubadour Heart is without a doubt one of the year’s most intriguing records.

Troubadour Heart is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HGTNKAK/ref=s9_simh_gw_p15_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1RG9YQMJV0C4KG1XBKVB&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846. His new album can also be purchased at any of his upcoming live shows. Cason is scheduled to perform live Wednesday, Jun e18th in Okoboji, IA. He also has a pair of shows scheduled in Nashville and one in Lincolnton, North Carolina. That concert is scheduled for Saturday, August 16th. Audiences can get a complete list of Buzz Cason’s live events and news online at http://www.facebook.com/buzzcasonmusic, http://www.buzzcason.com, and http://twitter.com/buzzcason. 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.