Verve’s New Coltrane LP Is The Cream Of 2018’s New Albums Crop

Courtesy: Verve RecordsVer

From the mainstream to the underground, from the worlds of jazz and blues to the worlds of pop and rock, audiophiles have been given quite a bit this year to appreciate.  Up-and-coming blues-rock band The Record Company and veteran jazz outfit Yellowjackets joined World Music act Yiddish Glory to prove to be some of this year’s best new music.

Experience Hendrix, LLC’s new Jimi Hendrix album Both Sides of the Sun, composer Klaus Schultz and veteran performers Elvis Costello & The Imposters also provided some memorable new music along with Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Ry Cooder and Femi Kuti.

Considering how many top notch records were released this year, developing this year’s list was not easy by any means.  The acts noted previously all turned out some very impressive offerings.

After much analysis and consideration, this critic has placed atop the year’s top new albums list is the long-lost album from John Coltrane, Both Directions At Once.  The record stands out as a shining beacon that music lovers across the board should hear at least once, regardless of their familiarity with Coltrane and his body of work.

Second in this year’s list is taken by Yiddish Glory’s new album The Lost Songs of WWII.  Listeners learn some very important history about Jewish music, culture and history through this album that should be in so many listeners’ libraries.

Third place in this year’s list goes to composer Klaus Schultz and his new album Silhouettes.  The otherworldly compositions featured in this record are stunning in their presentation.  They conjure thoughts of some of Nine Inch Nails master mind Trent Reznor’s most powerful instrumental works crossed with just a touch of John Williams sensibility.  It really is a powerful presentation that crosses genres and deserves so much attention.

The remainder of this year’s list features new albums from the likes of Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Femi Kuti and The Record Company just to name a few acts.  As always, the list’s top 10 titles are the best while the five that follow are honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 Albums of the Year.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

  1. John Coltrane — Both Directions At Once
  2. Yiddish Glory — The Lost Songs of WWII
  3. Klaus Shultz — Silhouettes
  4. Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite — No Mercy in this Land
  5. The Jamie Lawrence Sextet — New York Suite
  6. Jimi Hendrix — Both Sides of the Sky
  7. Femi Kuti — One PeopleOne World
  8. Ry Cooder — Prodigal Son
  9. Yellowjackets — Raising Our Voice
  10. The Record Company — All Of this Life
  11. Billy Gibbons — The Big Bad Blues
  12. Elvis Costello & The Imposters — Look Now
  13. Onyx Collective — Lower East Suite Part Three
  14. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats — Tearing at the Seams
  15. Joe Bonamassa — Redemption

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Detour Is A Musical Side Trip That Any Of Costello’s Fans Will Want To Take

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

“The most prodigious writer of fine songs in British history.”  That is the title given to veteran performer Elvis Costello last year by a writer with the British newspaper The Independent following Costello’s 2015 tour.  It is quite the title considering the number of outstanding acts that have come from Great Britain and the United Kingdom.  Those acts include the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Richard Thompson, and so many others.  And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Regardless of whether or not audiences agree with the honor bestowed upon Costello by that writer, one thing on which audiences can agree about Costello is that he is quite the accomplished musician and showman.  Now thanks to the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment audiences that haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Costello perform live will get to see just what makes him such a prolific performer and musician in his new live recording Detour: Live at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Featuring Larkin Poe.  The recording presents one of the performances included in Costello’s 2015 “Detour Tour.”  Costello’s performance here is in itself proof of why he is one of the most prodigious performers in the industry today.  It will be discussed shortly.  The concert’s extensive set list also shows what makes him so respected.  It features a total of twenty-seven songs composed over the course of his more than four decades of making music.  The show’s production values help to show what makes Costello such a prolific performer and his shows fan favorites.  Each element is important in its own right in showing what makes Elvis Costello such a respected musician and performer.  They also serve to show here what makes his live shows so impressive.  Altogether they make this snapshot of Elvis Costello’s live shows a welcome addition to any of his fans’ music libraries.

Detour: Live at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall featuring Larkin Poe is a welcome addition to any of his fans’ personal music libraries.  That is because whether or not fans have had the pleasure of seeing him live, it serves as a good snapshot of what makes the veteran musician and performer one of the industry’s most prodigious and respected figures.  That is shown primarily through his stage presence throughout the concert.  For the most part audiences get in this concert Costello performing by himself.  There are no other guitars, drums or anything.  It is just him, his guitar, and the audience.  Throughout the course of the concert there is a certain sense of intimacy for lack of better wording because of that one-on-one approach.  He takes time not only to sing a number of his most well-known hits but also to share some stories and jokes with the audience along the way. He also shares the stage with fellow musician Larkin Poe on a handful of songs. Some of the songs in question were pieces on which the pair collaborated for the “New Basement Tapes” 2014 project Lost on the River. Those performances are just as organic and real as those by Costello by himself. The pair shows that the chemistry developed in the recording of that album was very real and was also still very much there in their performance here. It’s the kind of performance overall that will put a smile on any viewer’s face as said audiences tap their toes in time. His time on stage with Poe along with his own time on stage alone shows why he is such a prolific performer and why that performance makes this recording in whole so impressive for Costello’s fans. It is just one of the ways in which both are exhibited here. The concert’s set list does just as much in that respect.

Elvis Costello’s performance both by himself and with Larkin Poe in his new recording collectively show in their own clear way why he is such a prolific performer. They also serve to show just one way in which his ability to entertain audiences makes the recording in whole so impressive for his fans. Of course there is more to note here than just his stage presence. The show’s extensive set list also serves to show what makes him such a prolific artist/performer and in turn another way in which the recording in whole exhibits this. The set list consists of twenty-seven total songs. And not all of those songs featured in this concert are taken from his own works. As already noted, Larkin Poe makes a special appearance to perform some of the songs that the pair collaborated on for the Bob Dylan “tribute” album Lost on the River. She also shares time on stage with him on the likes of ‘Blame It On Cain,’ ‘That’s Not The Part Of Him You’re Leaving,’ and ‘A Good Year For The Roses’ just to name a few. Speaking of those songs, audiences will note that while not all of the songs featured in this performance come from Costello’s own albums, a fair share do. They include the noted compositions as well as ‘Accidents Will Happen,’ ‘Shipbuilding,’ ’45,’ ‘Red Shoes’ and a number of other classics. It would have been interesting to see Costello try to represent every one of his albums. But that would have extended his performance well past its roughly two hour mark. Of course real diehard fans would likely not complain. What is presented is worth the mention, though. He makes a valid attempt to cover as much of his career as possible with songs lifted from no fewer than a dozen of his albums. National Ransom, which he released in 2010, gets the most representation with three songs. His 1977 debut album My Aim Is True received four mentions in this concert. Get Happy (1980) and When I Was Cruel (2002) each get two nods. Also represented here are songs from Armed Forces (1979), Trust (1981), Almost Blue (1981), Punch The Clock (1983), Goodbye Cruel World (1984), King of America (1986), Spike (1989), and The Delivery Man (2004). His 2006 collaboration with Allen Toussaint The River in Reverse is represented, too in the song ‘Ascension Day.’ Again, not every one of Costello’s albums is represented in this recording. But it is safe to say that a relatively healthy offering of his albums is featured here. That being the case, the fact that he would make such a concerted effort to focus on so much of his catalogue shows yet again why he is indeed one of the industry’s most prolific performers. By connection the extensive set list serves to show why the recording in whole exemplifies what makes him so prolific.

The performance put on by Elvis Costello in his latest live recording is in itself proof of why he is one of the music industry’s most prolific performers. The set list contained in the concert recording exhibits this even more. Both also show why the recording is a good example in itself of why he is so respected. The show’s production values round out the ways in which the recording proves not only why he is so respected but why the recording is such a good example of why he is held to such a high standard. The show is a very intimate presentation. And those behind the cameras and mics do their own applause-worthy job of capturing the essence of a live Elvis Costello show and of who Costello is, too. The Philharmonic Hall isn’t the biggest venue out there. But it is large enough yet small enough at the same time to make for an intimate get together of performer and fan. The camera crew and director did an excellent job of keeping a clear and clean line in each shot that also didn’t intrude on the experience for the audiences. Thanks to the work of those behind the show’s audio both in concert and in post-production, the warmth and emotion of Costello’s vocals come through with so much power and clarity. Said individuals are to be applauded just as much as those behind the cameras. Their combined efforts result in a show that expertly captures a performer who seems like no other. He comes across as being completely genuine especially in this case. Keeping that in mind, it completes the recording and shows once more exactly why Costello is such a revered figure in the music industry and why the recording serves as such a clear example of why he is so acclaimed. Together with the show’s set list and Costello’s performance, it can be said of the recording in whole that it is one that just as with a turn on a detour, fans won’t want to miss this new live recording.

Elvis Costello’s new live recording is a presentation that none of his fans will want to miss, just as with a turn in a detour. That is because through Costello’s own performance and set list, he exhibits true professionalism and love for his fans. The work put in to recording the performance serves to expertly capture that professionalism and love for his fans. Each element is important in its own right in showing why Elvis Costello is one of the most prodigious and prolific performers not just from the UK but in the music industry in whole. Altogether, they prove this recording to be a clear example of why he deserving of such titles. They combine to make this recording a piece that none of his fans will want to miss. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now along with all of the latest news from Eagle Rock Entertainment at:

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

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Elvis Costello Releasing New Live Recording Next Month

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Veteran singer/songwriter Elvis Costello has a new live recording on the way for fans.

Eagle Rock Entertainment has partnered with Costello to release his new live recording Detour Live at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall next month. It will be released in stores and online on Friday, February 12th. Originally recorded at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall during his 2015 European Tour, the performance includes some of Costello’s most well-known songs. Those songs include the likes of: ‘Watching The Detective, ‘Accidents Will Happen, ‘A Good Year For The Roses,’ ‘Shipbuilding,’ ‘Alison, ‘I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down,’ ‘Peace Love and Understanding,’ Church Underground,’ ‘Jimmie Standing in the Rain,’ and a number of others. It also includes bonus performances of ‘Love Field,’ ‘Either Side of the Same Town,’ ‘Brilliant Mistake,’ and ‘Ascension Day.’ The recording’s complete set list is featured below.

 

TRACK LISTING

1) Intro

2) Red Shoes

3) Watch Your Step

4) Accidents Will Happen

5) Church Underground

6) ’45

7) Shipbuilding

8) I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down

9) Walkin’ My Baby Back Home

10) Ghost Train

11) When I Was Cruel No.2

12) Watching The Detectives

13) If I Had A Hammer

14) Pads, Paws And Claws

15) That’s Not The Part Of Him Your Leaving

16) Down On The Bottom

17) Blame It On Cain

18) Alison

19) A Good Year For The Roses

20) Side By Side

21) Jimmie Standing In The Rain

22) Peace, Love And Understanding

23) Golden Tom – Silver Judas (credits)

The concert recording will be available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital formats. The recording’s DVD presentation will retail for MSRP of $14.98 and the Blu-ray for $19.98. Pricing for its digital formats will be announced soon. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

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3rd Rock’s Season 6 A Funny Finale For Former Standout NBC Sitcom

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Today’s sitcoms are anything family friendly.  They have become increasingly over laden with sexual innuendo, foul language, and completely dumbed down humor.  These are the main complaints that are received by many audiences about many of the sitcoms currently airing on television’s “Big 4”, and even on some cable based comedies.  Thank goodness for companies Mill Creek Entertainment for offering audiences an alternative to the mostly blue humor that pollutes today’s comedies.  One of the most recent of those alternatives from Mill Creek Entertainment is the release of NBC’s hit sitcom, 3rd Rock from the Sun Season Six.

The sixth and final season of the once powerhouse NBC comedy is just as funny as the show’s previous five seasons thanks once again to the show’s writers.  The Solomon family continues trying to learn the ways of humans in its ongoing mission, all while creating its own share of laughs along the way.  Dick learns in the show’s final season that he’s *gasp* Canadian.  The Solomon family also temporarily takes on new lives in an alternate universe.  And Tommy experiences the human experience that is college.  These are just a few of the funny moments that fill out the final season of 3rd Rock from the Sun.  That’s not all that makes this season such a joy.  A who’s who of guest stars appears throughout Season six, too, adding to the laughs.  A whole slew of fellow NBC stars come in this season including former Saturday Night Live cast members Darrell Hammond, Tracy Morgan, and Ana Gasteyer.  Richard Belzer (Law & Order: SVU) and Mark McKinney (The Kids in the Hall) and singer Elvis Costello also show up this season.  Even as small as their parts are, the guest stars add their own comic element to the show, making it even more entertaining.

The writing in 3rd Rock’s final season is just as entertaining as it was in the series’ premiere season.  Some might have considered it a bit of a cheap thing to do a Saturday Night Live crossover and a slight pump for Law & Order: SVU.  But it all works quite well in the two-part episode, “Dick’ll Take Manhattan.”  The writers, probably knowing it was the show’s last season, take a playful stab at then fellow NBC hit, Saturday Night Live and even the NBC brass as Harry becomes the head of the network.  The writers didn’t just take a stab at NBC.  They even poked fun at HBO’s then hit show, Sex and the City, with Sally (Kristen Johnston) taking the place of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie.  It gets even funnier, with each member of the cast having their own hilarious moments.  This standout episode was just one that served as a tribute to the wit of the show’s writers.  Fans will also love the semi-political comedy of “Red, White & Dick.”  This episode sees Dick discovering that he is Canadian in his quest to become more American.  What it is about this kind of joke that makes it so funny is anyone’s guess.  Canada seems to be the butt of so many jokes in American entertainment.  But it is hilarious nonetheless, and it serves as a solid cornerstone for Dick’s attempts to become more American and in the same vein, more human.  It will have any viewer laughing till they cry.

The writing behind each episode of 3rd Rock’s final season offers nonstop laughs in every episode.  It’s a prime example of what used to make NBC a powerhouse network during the 1990s.  The cameo guest spots don’t hurt, either.  Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) appears as Mary’s (Jane Curtin) sister Renita Albright this season.  She sets out to steal Dick from Mary purely out of sibling rivalry.  That adults could be such strong rivals goes back to the show’s solid writing.  Audiences will love watching Mary and Renita going back and forth, sniping at one another like two little children.  Mullally is just one of the many guest stars that made an appearance this season.  Richard Belzer, Tracy Morgan, and Ana Gasteyer—all NBC stars—made appearances, as did singer Elvis Costello.  Costello made an appearance in the series finale.  The others all appeared in the two-parter, “Dick’ll Take Manhattan.”  Watching a then young Joseph Gordon-Levitt go toe to toe with the then rising SNL stars is a laugh riot.  Who ever would have thought that Tommy would date Ana Gasteyer.  And his moments with Tracy Morgan are just as funny.

The writing and the guest spots together make this final season a fitting way to close out what is by this critic’s view, one of the greatest sitcoms of the 20th century.  The DVD release of this season has one more aspect that while not being perfect, is still good in its own right.  Mill Creek has packaged all three discs of this set in their own envelope.  Mill Creek Entertainment is the only company that packages DVDs in this fashion.  It isn’t a perfect packaging method, considering that the envelopes are not padded.  That would make them perfect.  But having them in envelopes allows audiences to take as many discs as they want when travelling instead of having to take an entire DVD case.  This is actually quite smart in its own right.  If the higher ups at Mill Creek would maintain its form of packaging and simply make the envelopes padded, it would make this packaging fashion quite impressive and the overall presentation of its multi-disc sets that much more impressive.  3rd Rock from the Sun Season Six is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered online via the Mill Creek Direct website at https://www.millcreekdirect.com/3rd-rock-from-the-sun-season-6.html. After ordering the three-disc set, audiences can find out about more releases from Mill Creek Entertainment on its official website, http://www.millcreekentertainment.com or its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/MillCreekEnt.

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Live Kisses Another Gem From McCartney

Courtesy:  mpL/Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: mpL/Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Former Beatle and veteran musician Sir Paul McCartney has proven once more on his new release, Live Kisses, why he is still one of the music industry’s most respected names.  This live in-studio performance presents McCartney from Capitol Studios as he recorded the tracks for his most recent release, Kisses on the Bottom.  The recording session was recorded on February 9th of this year.  A lot went into making Live Kisses the enjoyable in-studio performance that it was and will be for any McCartney and Beatles fan this holiday season and well into the New Year.

Live Kisses takes audiences not so much behind the scenes of the recording of Kisses from the Bottom but into the recording process as it happened.  Watching the recording process at work is just as entertaining as listening to the finished product.  The whole mood of the “performance” is set through simple factors such as lighting, the use of older style microphones, and even recording pieces of the session in black and white.  That alone really helps to elevate the nostalgic vibe of the classic standards included in the record as each is being recorded.  If that isn’t enough, the very setting of the recording room at the legendary Capitol Records adds even more to the throwback feeling of the music.  Especially those who have any knowledge of the history behind Capitol Records will appreciate the session being filmed at the company’s headquarters.  There is even a note about the space in which the recording session took place in the booklet that accompanies this recording  Along with the session’s other factors, they all come together to make a performance that will create a strong sense of nostalgia in any listener’s mind.

The setting and general effect went a long way toward making this performance something very special.  They were just part of the overall enjoyment of Live Kisses though.  While enjoying the songs performed in this session, audiences are also presented with images of his own childhood as he sings, ‘Home (When Shadows Fall).  The combination of the two adds a truly emotional moment to McCartney’s performance here.  Famed jazz musician Diana Krall’s inclusion on the piano on this song makes it that much more of a joy to experience. 

Speaking of Mrs. Krall, both she and her husband Elvis Costello play a role throughout the recording session presented on this Blu-ray disc.  Costello shares with viewers both an introduction to the performance and a transcript of the conversation between himself and McCartney in the accompanying “book” in which the disc comes.  There’s even a joke shared between the two veteran musicians about the inclusion of Krall in the performance.  Of course, the comments regarding her are nothing but positive.  Audiences can find out for themselves what the pair discuss, and can also experience this amazing performance when they pick up this brand new Blu-ray release in store or online.  Live Kisses can be ordered direct online via Eagle Rock Entertainments, website, http://www.eagle-rock.com/product/EVB334289/Live+Kisses and at McCartney’s own official website, http://store.paulmccartney.com/livekisses/usd.php

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Krall Impressive As Ever On Her New LP

Courtesy: Verve Records

Diana Krall has become one of the leading names in jazz over the course of her career.  Her voice and her chops as a pianist have made her a household name among not just among jazz aficionados, but among the mainstream masses, too.  But on this new release, Krall has stepped from her comfort zone, and tried something new.  So far, Glad Rag Doll has become an album that fans either love or hate.  There is no gray area with this album.  In the case of this critic, it’s one more success from an artist who continues to prove herself to be one of the industry’s elite.

Glad Rag Doll presents Diana Krall in a different avenue than in her previous releases.  Rather than take the safe road, this time she has ventured out and gone back in time to the 1920’s and 30’s.  Perhaps the closest that Krall comes to her old sound is in the album’s opener, ‘We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye.’  This is one of those songs that could easily be imagined in a smoky old jazz club in the heyday of jazz.  Krall’s vocals are just as smooth as ever.  And the backing of fellow musicians Marc Ribot, Jay Bellerose, and Dennis Crouch add even more of a gentle touch to the song. 

From the gentle jazz mood of ‘We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye’, Krall and company move into something with a little more edge to it in their cover of Fred Fisher’s ‘There Ain’t No Man That’s Worth The Salt of My Tears.’  Fisher wrote this one originally.  But it was made largely popular by singer Martha Wainright.  Again, as with the album’s opener, Krall manages to maintain the integrity of this song from its early days.  The bluesy guitar and light brushwork by Krall’s drummer here make it one of the album’s true highlights.  It proves without a shadow of a doubt that Krall and company can swing it with the best of them both as a jazz and blues artist.  She also proves this on the equally bluesy cover of Betty James’ ‘I’m A Little Mixed Up.’  Her piano work on this song is incredible.  The way she plays shows exactly why the piano is considered more a percussion instrument than belonging to any other instrument family.

All of the songs noted here are excellent additions to Krall’s new album.  They’re not the only enjoyable pieces presented here, either.  All thirteen tracks included on the standard edition (and seventeen on the deluxe edition) will make for an enjoyable listen for any true jazz and blues fan.  Her album is available in stores and online now.  And fans can even see her live now as she is currently touring in support of her new album.  She is currently touring overseas in support of her new album.  Fans can go to her Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/dianakrall to order her album and to get all of her tour dates and more.

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