Sony Music, Experience Hendrix LLC Release Another Essential Jimi Hendrix Experience Live Recording in ‘Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969’

Courtesy: Sony Music, Experience Hendrix LLC

Some music acts out there are better on their studio recordings than their live shows.  For others, the exact opposite is the case.  And then there are still others that amazingly are just as good on their albums as on stage.  The Jimi Hendrix Experience is in the latter category. While the trio was only together for a short time ­– only a few years – the band’s records and concerts remain some of the greatest in the modern history of music.  The band’s brand new live recording, Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 is no exception to that rule.  Set for release Friday through Sony Music, Experience Hendrix, LLC, the 11-song concert is just as much an essential for any Hendrix fan’s collection as its most recent live predecessor, Live in Maui (2020).  That is due in large part to the featured set list and the trio’s performance thereof.  This will be discussed shortly.  The companion booklet that accompanies the recording building on the foundation formed by the concert and makes this recording even more enjoyable.  That is because of the liner notes therein.  This will be examined a little later.  The recording’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation and brings everything full circle.  It will also be examined later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969.  All things considered they make this recording easily one of the best new live CDs released so far this year.

Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969, the latest archived Jimi Hendrix Experience live show to see the light of day, is yet another essential addition to the library of any Hendrix fan.  That is due in no small part to its featured set list and the trio’s performance thereof.  The concert’s set list spans 11 songs and 79 minutes (one hour, 19 minutes) and features a hand full of songs which audiences had come to know at that time (and that are still beloved to this day) while also including some lesser-performed songs, such as ‘Spanish Castle Magic,’ ‘I Don’t Live Today’ and ‘Tax Free,’ which opens the concert.  Yes, Hendrix and his fellow musicians – drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding – played ‘Tax Free’ many times, but few of the group’s live recordings feature performances of the song.  To that end, it is correct to say that the song is lesser performed.  What’s more, the overall set list featured in this concert was, as noted in music journalist Randy Lewis in the recording’s second set of liner notes (this will be discussed a little later), an example of Hendrix being more concerned simply with a set list, not which songs from the trio were popular and charting at the time.  It really is an example that few bands today follow when they tour.  To that end, this set list is such a joy in its own right, giving audiences something familiar and lesser so.

Staying on the topic of the concert itself, the collective performance put on by Hendrix and company makes the show even more enjoyable.  That is because it proves to be so natural and “organic.”  Jimi seems to relaxed as he tries to get the audience at the famed forum to not rush the stage, actually noting at one point that the band couldn’t perform until the crowd settled down.  The trio’s performance of ‘Tax Free’ lasts more than 15 minutes (15 minutes, 34 seconds to be exact), with much of it being a jam session.  The band takes the same style approach through each song that follows, simply enjoying being in the moment and bringing the audience into the moment.  The result is a general effect between the songs and performances thereof that makes for so much engagement and entertainment for audiences.

The content featured in this recording is itself more than reason enough for audiences to own the concert.  It is just one part of what makes the recording so deserving of applause, too.  The companion booklet that accompanies the recording builds on the foundation formed by the concert and makes for even more enjoyment and engagement.  That is because it features not just one but two separate sets of liner notes.  The first set of liner notes was crafted by ZZ Top front man/bassist/founder Billy F. Gibbons and the second by Lewis.  As already noted, Lewis points out in his writing, that the concert featured in this recording was an example of Hendrix caring less about which of the band’s songs were performing well on the charts and simply being more in the moment and making the concert enjoyable for everyone.  The jam sessions that grow out of each song make that completely clear.  Lewis also points out in his notes, The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s performance at the Forum was important because prior to its presentation the only rock acts that had preceded the group’s came from Deep Purple, Cream, and The Doors.  Prior to those concerts (and that of The Jimi Hendrix Experience), the Forum’s concerts were much more in another direction in terms of genre.  Audiences will be left to find out more about that topic for themselves when they buy this recording. 

Gibbons’ liner notes meanwhile offer their own engagement and entertainment.  Gibbons reminisces at one point in his comments, about having actually been there at the Forum for the band’s show.  He writes in his liner notes that Hendrix actually came back stage after the concert and asked Gibbons what he thought of the show.  Gibbons’ response in his recollection is humble and in its simplicity, shows the respect that even someone of Gibbons’ status had and has even today for Hendrix as a person and musician.  Gibbons also points out his amazement at and respect for Hendrix’s talents on the guitar, writing, “What unfolded thereafter was firsthand evidence of how Jimmy Hendrix had figured out how to do things on a Fender Stratocaster that had obviously never been imagined by its designers.”  That is a strong statement of pure respect from one now famous musician to one who remains among the most influential in the music community in whole.  It is just one more of so many insights shared by Gibbons that make his comments just as entertaining and engaging as those crafted by Lewis.  Gibbons even shares a brief anecdote about Hendrix requiring a record player in any hotel room where he stayed.  That is one more story that audiences will be left to enjoy for themselves when they buy this recording and even more example of the importance of the recording’s liner notes.  When the comments shared by Gibbons and Lewis are considered collectively, they make the overall liner notes even more reason for Hendrix fans to own this recording.

The production that went into this concert recording rounds out its most important elements.  That is because it surprisingly immerses audiences in the experience, making listeners really feel like they are right there.  The production isn’t some spit-shined presentation.  It is raw and organic.  Audiences can hear the audience noise “in the distance” while the band’s performance sounds so natural.  There is a certain richness and warmth to the sound quality in its approach.  It is a tribute to those who were charged with bringing the master tapes back to life for this presentation.  The result of the overall audio production is a positive general effect here, too.  Keeping that in mind, the effect of the production pairs with the effect of the band’s performance and the set list itself to make the whole a complete presentation that every Jimi Hendrix fan and rock fan will find enjoyable.

Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969, the brand new live recording from The Jimi Hendrix Experience, is another thoroughly enjoyable presentation from the band, even with the band no longer being around.  It is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  That is due in no small part to its featured set list and the band’s performance thereof.  The set list features plenty of familiar songs and some that are less common place on live Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings that have already been released.  The band’s performance of said set list feels so natural that it makes for its own enjoyment.  The liner notes featured in the recording’s companion booklet make for even more entertainment and engagement.  That is because of the background that they offer from both Gibbons and Lewis.  The recording’s production creates a sound quality that is organic and natural in its own right that makes for its own immersion in the experience.  Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of this recording.  All things considered they make Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 one more of the best of this year’s new live CDs if not the best so far.

Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 is scheduled for release Friday through Sony Music and Experience Hendrix, LLC. More information on Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 and other Jimi Hendrix releases is available online at:




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Neal Schon’s Latest LP Is A “Universal” Success

Courtesy: Neal Schon Music, Inc.

It goes without saying that guitarist Neal Schon is one of the most well-known and respected figures in the music industry today.  A founding member of legendary rock band Journey, Schon has also worked with fellow rock legend Carlos Santana, and is also a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee.  The band he helped found has sold millions of records the world over, too, thanks in part to his own performances on said records.  Schon added yet another proverbial notch in his belt this month when he released his new solo album Universe.  The 15-song record is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation that will appeal equally to fans of Journey, Schon and to real rock musicianship in general.  This is proven in no small part to the musical arrangements that make up the body of the 70-minute record.  They will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements’ sequencing builds on the foundation built by the songs themselves and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be examined later.  All three elements noted here are important in their own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Universe more proof of why Neal Schon is in fact one of the most respected and well-known figures in the entire musical universe.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.

Neal Schon’s new solo album Universe is a strong new musical statement from a musician who has already so many laurels over the course of his career.  It is a presentation that will appeal widely not only to his fans, but to those of Journey and of real pure guitar rock, too.  That is proven continuously throughout the course of the album’s hour-plus run time in large part because of its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are wide spread in terms of their influences and comparison.  The record opens with a decidedly Joe Satriani style composition in ‘Something in the Heart.’  The song finds Schon playing so subtly against an orchestral backing and slow, steady drum beat to open the song.  The picture that it paints is like something that belongs in the end credits of some blockbuster drama on the big screen (E.g. the sun setting on the lead characters, their silhouettes the only part of them visible following the events of the story).  The subtlety in Schon’s performance alongside that of the song’s orchestral element is such a powerful presentation.  On a distinctly different note, Schon takes listeners in a completely different direction in ‘She’s For Real.’  The use of the strings in this song’s arrangement pairs with the piano arrangement to create something of a vintage disco type of style approach.  The aforementioned Joe Satriani-esque guitar work and the solid time keeping that accompany the strings and piano come into play here to enhance the arrangement even more, and make it that much more engaging and entertaining.   Not only that, but it also adds to the discussion on the diversity of the album’s musical arrangements.  It strengthens that discussion and in turn the importance of that element.  Showing even more, the diversity in the record’s musical arrangements is the frantic ‘Be Happy,’ which comes late in the album’s run.  The high-energy composition clocks in at just under three-and-a-half minutes, and makes full use of that time, too.  Schon’s fingers run their way all over his guitar’s fret board while the bass line and time keeping add an extra layer to the work.  The ghost notes and cymbal crashes from the percussion give just the right accent along with the bass drum.  The repetition of the almost walking bass line makes for a solid counterpoint to Schon’s fiery guitar work.  The addition of the strings to the mix adds its own unique touch to the whole, too.  By the time the song ends, listeners themselves will be left feeling breathless just from hearing the whole of the noted elements.  The composition is that intense, but in the best way possible.  It is just one more way in which the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements come through so clearly.  Between this work, the others addressed here, the likes of others, such as the slow jam style ‘Silent Voyage,’ the powerhouse cover of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain,’ and the bluesy, almost Pink Floyd-esque ‘Caruso,’ that diversity becomes even clearer.  When all of this is considered along with the rest of the album’s works, that diversity shines through even more, leaving zero doubt as to its importance.  It is of course just one of the key elements that makes Universe such a surprisingly successful album.  The sequencing of the album’s featured musical arrangements adds even more impact to the album’s presentation.

The sequencing of Universe is important to examine because it plays directly into listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  As already noted, the album opens on a somewhat somber note in ‘Something in the Heart.’  From there, the album’s energy only barely picks up as it progresses through ‘The Eye of God’ and ‘The Universe.’  From there, ‘Caruso’ pulls things back again before finally really letting loose in the cover of ‘Voodoo Child.’  The energy in that song carries through to ‘Third Stone From the Sun’ before really pulling back again in Schon’s cover of ‘Purple Rain.’  Listeners will be glad to know that things do not stay reserved for too long, as the album starts to pick back up again immediately after in ‘She’s For Real.’  The rises and falls in the album’s energy continues from here with full stability, ensuring just as much, that noted engagement and entertainment for audiences.  The bigger picture, looking back, is that of sequencing that took into full account, the songs’ energies and impact thereof.  The result of that attention to detail makes an album that listeners will find just as enjoyable to hear for this aspect as for the songs themselves.  Keeping all of this in mind, now it is even clearer why Universe is such a successful new offering from Schon.  It still is just one more aspect of the album that listeners will appreciate.  The production of Schon’s new album puts the finishing touch to the presentation.

As has already been noted more than once here, there is a lot going on in many of the songs featured in Universe.  This means that a lot of attention had to be paid to detail in each song.  That is so that the sound is balanced to the best degree possible in each work.  Those efforts paid off, too.  Schon takes center stage throughout the album, and with good cause.  At the same time though, Schon’s fellow musicians each get their own attention in each song.  The string arrangements are balanced so well each time they are incorporated into the songs.  The bass line, which far too often is under used by bands across the board, gets its own time in the light throughout the album, too.  Even the drums sound so rich, but never overpowering at any point. Simply put, throughout the course of Universe’s one hour, 10-minute presentation, each instrument and performance is expertly balanced in each song.  The result is that the album sounds that much more appealing.  When this is considered along with the appeal just from the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements and the effect of the arrangements’ sequencing, the album in whole becomes a presentation that is another presentation from Schon that will appeal just as much to his fans as to those of Journey and guitar rock.

Neal Schon’s newly released solo album Universe is a positive new offering from the guitarist, whose accolades are already numerous.  Its diverse musical arrangements in themselves are certain to appeal to the noted wide range of listeners, along with the sequencing of those arrangements.  The production of the arrangements puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation, giving them the aesthetic that makes their sound just as appealing as their general content.  It puts the final touch to the album’s whole.  When it is considered with the songs and their sequencing, that whole makes the album a presentation that will appeal just as much to Schon’s fans as to those of journey and pure guitar rock.  Universe is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of Schon’s latest news at:



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‘A Modern Man’s Way To Improve’ Is A Promising Start For Royal Horses

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

Early this month, independent music collective Royal Horses released its debut album A Modern Man’s Way To Improve to the masses.  The 10-song record is a strong start for the band.  It is a presentation that makes this band one of the next big names in the country and southern rock communities.  That is proven in no small part to through the musical arrangements that make up the album’s 37-minute body.  They will be addressed shortly.  The lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical content adds to the album’s appeal.  It will be addressed a little later.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation and will be addressed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the album a positive start for the up-and-coming outfit that is certain to appeal to a wide range of audiences.

Royal Horses’ debut album A Modern Man’s Way To Improve is a powerful start for the collective.  It is a presentation whose appeal is far-reaching.  This is proven in part through its musical arrangements.  From start to end of the album, the band refuses to stick to just one sound and stylistic approach.  There is some rock influence, such as in ‘Rattlesnake Smoking a Cigar,’ which comes late in the albums run.  The song’s arrangement and sound is psychedelic.  There are times in this four-and-a-half-minute opus that conjure thoughts of Jimi Hendrix while at others, there are hints of Clutch.  Yes, it’s one heck of a combination, but it is balanced surprisingly well here and works just as well.  On a completely different note, ‘Leave A Light’ presents an old school country music approach that will appeal to fans of Hank Williams, what with its vintage honky ton sound and style.  On yet another note, a song, such as ‘Valley of the New’ will appeal to fans of the modern country rock band Reckless Kelly.  There is even a welcome bluegrass element in ‘Call It War’ and an equally enjoyable blues-based rock presentation in ‘Who Do You Know’ that will appeal to fans of Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band.  ‘Ruby Do’ gives audiences a sort of rockabilly approach that fans of Rev. Horton Heat and the Legendary Shack Shakers will enjoy.  Between these noted arrangements and the others featured throughout the album, the whole of the record’s musical content shows great diversity.  That in itself ensures the album’s noted wide appeal.  It is just one aspect of what audiences will enjoy about the album.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s diverse range of musical arrangements adds to the record’s appeal even more.

The lyrical content that is presented throughout A Modern Man’s Way To Improve adds to the album’s success because it is just as accessible as the album’s musical arrangements.  Case in point is the lyrical content featured in ‘Valley of the New.’  Front man Shelby Kemp sings here, “give me a reason to be here/Give me something to lose/Sing me a riddle/And I’ll give you a good answer/And I’ll hold you ‘til the sun comes shining through.”  From there he sings later, “If I die here/There is something you must do/March me down/In a field of golden roses/March me down/to the tune of something blue/hang my hat/On a yonder mountain/Lay my heart/In the valley of the new.”  This is as old school country as a song can get.  On another note, the addition of the claves to the song’s arrangement gives the work a little bit of a Jimmy Buffet influence.  Getting back on track, the song follows lyrically in similar fashion as that presented in its lead verse and chorus.  Simply put, this is vintage country in which someone is singing about life gone by and what is to come.  It’s one of those classic introspective songs that one could so easily hear in an old, dimly lit honky tonk bar.  Its introspective lyrical content and equally moving musical arrangement makes for so much enjoyment.

‘Valley of the New’ is just one of songs whose lyrical theme shows the overall importance of the album’s lyrical content.  ‘Rattlesnake Smoking A Cigar’ presents its own interesting lyrical content.  It is just as psychedelic as the song’s musical arrangement.  The subject sings here about going for a drive with his dad.  The duo meets a group of women *allegedly* and one turned out to be not quite what she appeared.  It is the most unique lyrical presentations featured in this album and will certainly have listeners talking. 

‘Bottom of the Chart’ presents another unique lyrical theme that is worth noting.  This song finds the song’s subject singing about being there for someone else when all of life’s negativities happen.  From everything dying to “mother earth closing her eyes”, to even rivers being dammed up by trees, the song’s subject says he will be there for that person “at the bottom of your chart.”  This is just this critic’s interpretation, but it comes across as someone saying, even when I’m the last on your list, the least important to you, I’ll be there.  If in fact that is what the song’s subject is saying, then it is powerful.  Most people who realize they are at the bottom of someone else’s priorities will do something to change things and perhaps just walk away from that situation.  For this song’s subject to seemingly say he will be there, devoted as ever, no matter what, is a powerful statement.  On one hand, it is moving.  On another, some might say not so smart.  The seeming lyrical theme in itself is certain to generate plenty of discussion.  Building on the noted discussion, if in fact this critic’s interpretation is right then it takes listeners in yet another distinct direction.  It shows even more, the record’s lyrical diversity.  The result is that it shows even more, the importance of the album’s lyrical content in whole.  The rest of the record’s lyrical content supports the noted statements just as much as that examined here.  Between all of that and the album’s musical content, all of this more than makes this record worth hearing.  All of that content is just a part of what makes A Modern Man’s Way Of Improving such a strong start for Royal Horses.  The production of the noted collective content rounds out the record’s most important elements.

The production of A Modern Man’s Way of Improving is important to note because of how much is going on in some of the album’s entries, and how little is going on in others.  ‘BLD’ for instance, which closes out the album, is one of the entries that has very little going on.  It is grounded in a very simple, light guitar line.  The echoing effect in the guitar’s melancholy approach is a credit to the production.  It really serves to help set the mood in this song.  The lyrical content is very limited here, which means the music takes center stage.  Those behind the boards are to be credited for their work here.  That noted echo effect and just the simplicity in the guitar line here supports the old adage that it is possible for a song to be heavy without being heavy. 

By comparison, the album’s title track, which comes very early in its sequence, has a little bit more going on.  The poppy approach and sound in the song again lends itself to comparisons to works from Reckless Kelly, but in this case, also to works from Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen.  That’s one heck of a collection of influences, but it works so well here.  It is also a credit to those responsible for the album’s production.  That upbeat but still light guitar line works so well with the song’s solid time keeping and catchy vocal delivery style to make for so much enjoyment.  On another level, the subtlety in the lead guitar line against the lighter rhythm guitar line adds its own richness to the presentation.    The bass line pairs with that aspect to fill out the arrangement even more.  As the song progresses, an increasing amount of action takes place.  Each element within the song is expertly balanced throughout, to the end that the song offers listeners full enjoyment and engagement from start to end.  It is just one more way in which the album’s production proves so important and hardly the last.  ‘Call It War’ is another example of the importance of the album’s production.

‘Call It War’ crosses elements of bluegrass with southern rock and country into one whole for its foundation.  The very crossing of the elements into one whole makes for an interesting presentation.  That the banjo and electric guitar get equal attention here thanks to the production enriches the song’s arrangement in its own right.  That the drums are used to tastefully here to add accents in all of the right points adds even more to the song’s enjoyment and engagement.  The whole conjures thoughts of the Jerry Reed/Dick Feller hit song ‘Eastbound and Down’ from the timeless Burt Reynolds movie Smokey & The Bandit.  That the whole can conjure such a comparison and that everything is so well-balanced here is one more example of the impact and importance of the album’s production.  The production clearly brings out the best aspects of each song, in turn making each song so enjoyable and engaging.  When this is considered along with the album’s musical and lyrical content, the whole of these elements makes the album in whole a successful first outing for Royal Horses.

Royal Horses’ debut album A Modern Man’s Way To Improve is a positive first outing for the up-and-coming band.  It is a presentation that is sure to appeal to a wide range of listeners.  That is proven in large part through its musical arrangements.  The record’s musical arrangements offer elements of southern rock, country, bluegrass, and even blues-based rock.  The arrangements never stay on one track for too long a period of time, either.  That ensures in its own way, listeners’ enjoyment and engagement.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements is just as diverse as the album’s musical arrangements.  It ensures even more that enjoyment and engagement.  The production that went into the album’s presentation brings out the best elements of each arrangement, making the album even richer in its presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the album’s presentation.  Al things considered, they make the album a promising first outing for Royal Horses.  The album is available now. 

More information on A Modern Man’s Way To Improve is available along with all of Royal Horses’ latest news at:



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Hammerfall Drops The Hammer On 2020’s Top New Live Recordings List

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Live music and live music venues took a big hit this year thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  That goes without saying.  Music acts and venues from the independent level all the way up to the big names were force to put their live music plans on hold indefinitely as a result of the pandemic.  However a glimmer of hope rose this week when Live Nation head Joe Berchtold was quoted by major media outlets as saying that he believed live music would return by summer 2021.  One can only hope that Mr. Berchtold is right, and that when it does return, audiences will welcome its return rather than let the germaphobes control their minds.  Until then, audiences do have lots of live music to enjoy on CD, DVD and Blu-ray that was released this year.  Hammerfall released its latest live recording Live! Against The World this year.  Dream Theater also dropped its new live recording Distant Memories: Live in London.  Metallica even celebrated the anniversary of its landmark S&M show with the release of S&M2.  These are just some of the recordings that made Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Live Recordings.  They were joined by new live material from the likes of Myrath, The Rolling Stones, and Kamelot.

As with each list from Phil’s Picks, this collection 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 Live Recordings.


  1. Hammerfall – Live! Against The World
  2. Jimi Hendrix – Live in Maui
  3. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – A Swingin’ Sesame Street Celebration
  4. Def Leppard – London to Vegas
  5. The Rolling Stones – Steel Wheels Live
  6. Devin Townsend – Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1
  7. John Lee Hooker – Live at Montreux 1983 & 1990
  8. Waylon Jennings – The Outlaw Perrformances
  9. Myrath – Live in Carthage
  10. Kamelot – I Am The Empire Live from the 013
  11. Dream Theater – Distant Memories: Live in London
  12. Metallica – S&M2
  13. Delta Rae – Coming Home To Carolina
  14. Bush – Live in Tampa
  15. Dee Snider – For The Love of Metal

Up next from Phil’s Picks is one of the last three music categories of the year, Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Rock Albums.  After that will be the year’s top new hard rock & metal albums, and then last but not least, the year’s top new albums overall.  From there, it’ll be on to the DVDs and Blu-rays in all of their categories.  Stay tuned for all of that.

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‘Live In Maui’ Is An Essential Experience For Any Jimi Hendrix Fan

Courtesy: Sony/Legacy Recordings/Experience Hendrix, LLC

Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC released another important chapter to the story of Jimi Hendrix’s life and career Friday.  The “chapter” came in the form of the new live recording/documentary Live in Maui.  The brand new release is a presentation that every Hendrix aficionados.  The liner notes that accompany the hybrid recording forms the package’s foundation and will be discussed shortly.  After having read through the extensive liner notes in the set’s companion booklet, audiences will then remain engaged and entertained by the set’s two live performances by Hendrix and company, as well as the fiasco that was the Rainbow Bridge documentary.  The two elements together make the presentation in whole, and unforgettable story on what would sadly become the last chapter of Hendrix’s life.  The three-disc set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the collection’s primary and secondary content, the whole becomes a must have for any Jimi Hendrix fan.

On July 30, 1970, legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix and his fellow musicians Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox played what would be one of the group’s final performances together.  Only days after the intimate concert, Hendrix would die of a drug overdose.  Now thanks to Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC, audiences can experience the ill-fated concert any time they want on Blu-ray and CD in the form of Live in Maui.  Released Friday, the three-disc set is an important chapter in the story of Hendrix’s life and career in part because of the story behind the concert and the documentary that spawned the concert, Rainbow Bridge.  That story is told through liner notes featured in the recording’s companion booklet, which were crafted separately by journalists Jeff Slate and John McDermott.  Slate points out in his portion of the liner notes, a variety of interesting facts about the documentary that Hendrix was not initially on board for the documentary, which his manager Michael Jeffrey had bankrolled, in large part on Hendrix’s back.  It points out that in order to pay for the creation of Rainbow Bridge, Jeffrey had gotten a $1 million advance from Reprise Records – Hendrix’s label at the time – to pay for the creation of Rainbow Bridge, and that half of that amount was taken against potential future royalties from sales of the next album that Hendrix was working on at the time.  That is rather selfish of Jeffrey to have done that to Hendrix,  let alone trying to get Hendrix and his band mates on board for the documentary even though they already had a packed schedule.  This is just a part of what makes this set’s liner notes so important.  Slate’s revelation that few if any preparations were made for Hendrix and company ahead of their performance — a rickety stage, microphones that were unable to handle the sound impacts of high winds, and sound problems that are audible and visible in the final recording – shows how short-sighted Jeffrey was in his attempt at an art style production.  Viewers will note from Slate’s statements that the foam covering the mics was in fact from the band’s equipment cases, and was meant to muffle the sound of the strong winds that were blowing that day.  There are also issues with sound syncing throughout the performance, which Slate also addresses in his liner notes.  It reminds audiences that the production problems seen and heard in the concert are not the fault of anyone at Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC, but rather of those who were behind the creation of Rainbow Bridge and the associated two-set concert.

McDermott, in his notes, backs up Slate’s writing about the production problems that faced Hendrix and his band mates, but pointing out that the trio took the whole thing in stride, performing just as professionally as it would at any other concert.  Additionally, McDermott takes time to point out why the concert’s order was presented as was.  As a hint, that is also related to the production problems caused by those behind Rainbow Bridge’s creation and that of the concert.  Keeping in mind this, everything pointed out in Slate’s notes and even more not mentioned here, the liner notes featured with Live in Maui form a strong foundation for the recording’s presentation.  It is just one aspect of what make the recording so appealing.  The two sets that make up the recording’s featured concert build on that foundation, making for even more enjoyment and engagement.

The two sets that are featured in Live in Maui are important both for their content and their presentation.  As is noted in the recording’s liner notes, the set opens with what was then one of Hendrix’s newest songs, ‘Hey Baby (New Rising Sun).’  From there, the concert went into a series of fan favorites, such as ‘Hear My Train A-Comin’,’ ‘Foxey Lady’ and ‘Purple Haze’ before presenting another new song, ‘Spanish Castle Magic.’  That then new song is followed by another new tune, ‘Lover Man,’ which is itself followed by the first set’s closer, ‘Message to Love.’  In simple terms, Hendrix and company presented the audience with a well-balanced set featuring some familiar content and something new from beginning to end in this case.  The second set gives listeners a fair share of familiar songs, too, again, doing its own part to ensure audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  The two sets clearly entertained the audience who attended the event.  The intimate audience, who had originally taken part in the filming of Rainbow Bridge danced nonstop to the performance.

While the featured set lists do plenty to keep audiences engaged, it should also be noted that the editing used in the recording is impressive in its own right.  That is because, as noted in the liner notes, the whole concert was not recorded by cameras during the shoot for Rainbow Bridge.  There are plenty of points at which cameras apparently stopped rolling.  It is at those points at which the post production came into play.  That aspect was also discussed in the liner notes.  The painstaking efforts that were taken to assemble the concert’s audio in post paid off, as the transitions are seamless.  The result of those efforts is a full concert recording that even without full visual footage still proves so enjoyable.  To that end, the combination of the previously unreleased concert footage and audio proves just as enjoyable as the liner notes that accompany the concert and its associated documentary.  These two elements together just make up one part of what makes the recording so appealing.  The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements.

The packaging used for Live in Maui is important to note through the placement of its three discs.  This set’s packaging is not the standard multi-disc presentation.  Rather than using a familiar gatefold style packaging for the 2CD/BD set, it opens more like a box, with the cover section opening downward, the another portion opening up, and the final two portions opening left and right.  The companion booklet is held in the middle of it all while the CDs and Blu-ray disc each sit in their own spot in the gatefolds.  It is an original packaging style to say the very least that also manages to protect each disc.  The only downside to the packaging style is that it can put undue stress on the package, leading to the potential of each “wing” tearing over time.  Even with that in mind, if a person is careful enough with the packaging, that wear should be minimal over time.  To that end, the packaging is more of an aesthetic element here, but is still important to note in its own right.  When it is considered along with the liner notes and the concert footage itself, the whole of the recording proves that much more engaging and entertaining.  All things considered, this rare live/documentary hybrid set proves to be a welcome addition to the library of any Jimi Hendrix fan.

Sony/Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix, LLC’s new Jimi Hendrix recording Live in Maui is an important chapter of Jimi Hendrix’s life and career that until now has been unreleased.  Now thanks to the companies, it is out there for fans to experience.  The liner notes that fill the companion booklet tell a rich story in this chapter.  They set the stage for the previously unreleased live recording featured in this set.  The packaging that is used to house the set’s two discs and one Blu-ray puts the finishing touch to the set with is aesthetic value.  And of course for those who want, the much maligned documentary Rainbow Bridge is also included on the Blu-ray.  Though knowing the story, it will make some not even want to watch the program.  Regardless, its inclusion in the set along with the concert footage and liner notes, makes the set in whole a must have for any Jimi Hendrix fan and any classic rock fan.  It is available now.

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Derek Sherinian Debuts Track-By-Track Discussion On New LP

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Derek Sherinian showed audiences how his latest album The Phoenix came to life this week.

Sherinian (Sons of Apollo, ex-Dream Theater, Platypus) debuted his new “making of” video Tuesday.  The nearly 25-minute video opens with Sherinian shredding on a massive keyboard setup before eventually moving into an interview with Sherinian and a montage of footage from the album’s recording sessions.

The noted montage is coupled with a series of other interview segments with Sherinian and some of the album’s featured guest stars, such as Billy Sheehan, Simon Phillips, and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal.

The video takes audiences trac-by-track through The Phoenix in Sherinian’s own words and those of Phillips.  the pair discusses topics related to the album, such as the influence of Return To Forever and Jimi Hendrix, working with bluesman Joe Bonamassa, and bringing everyone together for the album.

The Phoenix is available now through InsideOut Music.  The album has produced the singles ‘Them Changes,’ ‘Dragonfly,’ and ‘Empyrean Sky.’

It will be available as a limited edition digipack CD, 180-gram LP/CD combo pack and digital album.  The record’s track listing is noted below.


1. The Phoenix
2. Empyrean Sky
3. Clouds of Ganymede
4. Dragonfly
5. Temple of Helios
6. Them Changes
7. Octopus Pedigree
8. Pesadelo


The Phoenix will feature guest appearances by figures, such as bassists Billy Sheehan, Tony Franklin and Jimmy Johnson and guitarists Joe Bonamassa, Zakk Wylde, Steve Vai, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Sons of Apollo, Guns N’ Roses), and Kiko Loureiro (Megadeth).

Sherinian said of bringing Loureiro on board for the new album, “Kiko and I have known one another for about 20 years, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play with him.”

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Experience Hendrix, LLC And Legacy Recordings Partner To Release The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1970 Maui Concert

Courtesy: Experience Hendrix, LLC/Legacy Recordings

Experience Hendrix, LLC will release a new Jimi Hendrix documentary and companion live recording this fall.

Music, Money, MadnessLive in Maui is scheduled for release Nov. 20 through Legacy Recordings.  The documentary and its companion recording center on The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1970 performance in Maui, HI.  The band’s performance was part of the now infamous documentary film Rainbow Bridge, which was produced by the band’s then manager Michael Jeffrey.

The central plot of Rainbow Bridge was that of a “rainbow bridge” that connected the unenlightened and the enlightened worlds.  It was shot without professional actors, and featured footage of people taking part in activities, such as surfing, Tai-Chi and meditation.

The film remains controversial to this day for a variety of reasons.  Jeffrey spent $500,000 — given to him as an advance from Warner Brothers — on the documentary.  It is alleged that Hendrix’s involvement in the film was not a guarantee.  It is alleged that Jeffrey had to convince Hendrix to perform, as he allegedly did not initially agree to take part.

The performance put on by Hendrix and his band mates ended up totaling only 17 minutes.  None of the performance footage featured in the film is a complete song.  The recording set for release in November will be the first time that the group’s performance has been released in full.

The Jimi Hendrix Experiences’ performance as part of Rainbow Bridge‘s production would be Hendrix’s last recorded concert and his second to last American Concert.  His final American concert was a performance on  Aug. 1, 1970 at the H.I.C. Arena in Honolulu, HI.  Hendrix had already committed to the concert before being convinced by Jeffrey to take part in Rainbow Bridge.

Hendrix died a short time later on Sept. 18, 1970 when he went to Europe to tour there.

The documentary and recording will release on Blu-ray/2CD combo pack and separate 3LP gatefold vinyl.

Pre-orders for Music, Money, MadnessLive in Maui are open.  Audiences can view a trailer for the documentary here.  The band’s performance of ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)‘ held during its performance in Maui, is also streaming.

The track listing for the concert is noted below.




Chuck Wein Introduction

Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)

In From The Storm

Foxey Lady

Hear My Train A-Comin’

Voodoo Child (Slight Return)


Purple Haze

Spanish Castle Magic

Lover Man

Message to Love



Dolly Dagger

Villanova Junction

Ezy Ryder

Red House


Jam Back at the House

Straight Ahead

Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)/Midnight Lightning

Stone Free


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Capitol Records, Universal Music To Reissue Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Band Of Gypsys’ Live Recording Next Month

Courtesy: Capitol Records/Universal Music Group

Capitol Records and Universal Music will celebrate a major musical milestone next month.

The companies will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original release of Jimi Hendrix’s seminal live album Band of Gypsys March 27 with a new vinyl reissue of said album.  The all-analog presentation was mastered from the original analog stereo tapes of the recording.  The mastering work was handled by famed Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer.

The new vinyl reissue will be available on two different pressings — a black, 180-gram pressing from Quality Record Pressings, and a translucent cream, red, yellow and green swirl 180-gram pressing available exclusively through

Each pressing will feature an eight-page booklet filled with rare images from the Band of Gypsys concert and an essay penned by John McDermott.  They will also feature a 24″ X 36″ reproduction of the original poster used by Capitol Records to promote Band of GypsysPre-orders are open now for the reissue.

Jane Hendrix, Jimi’s sister and Experience Hendrix CEO, spoke highly of the forthcoming reissue in a recent interview.

“This is more than the commemoration of an anniversary that is, of course, something momentous, but it is also the celebration of a cathartic event in Jimi’s life…a sort of changing of the guards,” she said.  “He demonstrated that there was no limit to his musical landscape.  It was broad and beautiful, and like the leader of a true band of gypsies, Jimi could go anywhere on the spectrum of genres and be at home there musically!  This is our way of celebrating that part of Jimi’s journey.”

Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys live show was originally recorded Jan. 1, 1970 at New York’s famed Fillmore East.  His then bassist Billy Cox recalled what led to the release of the concert recording during his own recent interview.

“There had been a lawsuit against him and the only way out of that was to give them something,” he said.  “Jimi came to me and explained what had happened.  Then it was decided to give them an album.  I said let’s go for it.  At the time, Mitch [Mitchell] was in England, but [Buddy [Miles] would frequent the studios with us and he decided the same thing; let’s help our friend in need. Ultimately we became the Band of Gypsys.”

The lawsuit of which Cox referenced reached back to 1965 when Hendrix was still an unknown artist.  He worked at the time on a series of recordings from Curtis Knight & The Squires.  He was signed to Sue Records at the time, but had signed a deal with PPX Industries, binding his services not only for his work with Curtis Knight & The Squires but in general for the next three years.

That contract with PPX Industries led to the release of two 45 rpm singles that were licensed to RSVP Records by PPX Industries in early 1966.  Neither release gained any traction, leading Knight and Hendrix to part ways.  Hendrix’s agreement with PPX Industries was still in effect when Hendrix became famous as his own star.  A series of recordings that Hendrix had done with Knight was released at the time of Hendrix’s fame, competing with Hendrix’s own successful records Are You Experienced and Get That Feeling.

The competing recordings led to litigation, which was settled in 1968.  The settlement required Hendrix to deliver an album of original content to Capitol Records for distribution.  That recording was the now timeless live recording Band of Gypsys.

Band of Gypsys features six then unreleased songs — ‘Machine Gun,’ ‘Message To Love,’ ‘Power of Soul,’ ‘Who Knows,’ ‘Changes’ and ‘We Gotta Live Together.’  The recording’s track listing is noted below.


1) Who Knows
2) Machine Gun
Recorded January 1, 1970 Early Show

1) Changes
2) Power To Love
3) Message To Love
4) We Gotta Live Together
 Recorded January 1, 1970 Late Show

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Eagle Rock’s Mingus Montreux Show Shines In Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top New Live CDs List

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Going to live shows is neither easy nor inexpensive nowadays.  Between the collective cost of tickets — which is itself oftentimes bank-breaking — transportation, food, potential lodging and souvenirs, and of course planning around work and family schedules, getting out to live shows is not easy for anyone.

Those barriers make the availability of live recordings something critical for audiences everywhere, regardless of genre.  To that end, live CDs deserve their own consideration just as much as studio recordings, each year.  Keeping that in mind, Phil’s Picks has developed once again a list of the year’s Top 10 new live CDs.

This year has been an interesting one for live CDs.  Some notable live CDs were featured as part of bigger bundles (E.G. The Rolling Stones’ San Jose ’99 and Voodoo Lounge ’94 shows) while others, such as Alice Cooper’s A Paranormal Night @ The Olympia Paris and Marty Friedman’s One Bad M.F. Live were standalone offerings.

Some were standout offerings for all of the best reasons.  Others had some problems to note.  Keeping all of this in mind, this year’s crop of live CDs deserves just as much attention as the vast sea of studio recordings released throughout the year.

Topping this year’s list is yet another live CD from the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment in the form of Charles Mingus’ classic 1975 Montreux Jazz Festival show.  This recording presents Mingus at one of his finest moments, and why his live performances were — and still are today — such powerful presentations.

Coming in second in this year’s list is the new Jimi Hendrix live CD, Live at the Hollywood Bowl.  This CD was released as part of the bigger Electric Ladyland box set, and stands out so strongly because of its set list, Hendrix and company’s performance and the production values.

Third place in this year’s list of the year’s best new live CDs goes to veteran viking metal outfit Amon Amarth.  The 30-song set list spans two nights and quite an expansive portion of the band’s catalog.  That set list is directly mirrored on its DVD and BD presentation, and sounds just as good.  Though because of the intensity of the show, it is still better appreciated being seen and heard and not just heard.  That’s not to say the CD presentation is bad, but audiences will agree that hearing it makes for far more appreciation for the concerts’ DVD and BD presentations.

Also featured in this year’s list of top new live CDs are those noted new offerings from Marty Friedman, Alice Cooper and The Rolling Stones alongside new offerings from Opeth, Devin Townsend and John 5 to name just a few more titles.  As always, this critic’s list features 10 of the year’s top new offerings plus five honorable mentions, which follow, for a total count of 15.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 new Live CDs.


  1. Charles Mingus — Live at Montreux 1975
  2. Jimi Hendrix — Live at the Hollywood BowlAug. 14, 1968
  3. Amon Amarth — The Pursuit of Vikings25 Years in the Eye of the Storm
  4. Devin Townsend Project — Ocean MachineLive at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv
  5. Opeth — Garden of the TitansLive at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
  6. The Rolling Stones — No SecuritySan Jose ’99
  7. The Rolling Stones — Voodoo Lounge Uncut
  8. John Mclaughlin & The 4th Dimension and Jimmy Herring & The Invisible Whip — Live in San Francisco
  9. Marty Friedman — One Bad M.F. Live
  10. Accept — Symphonic TerrorLive at Wacken 2017
  11. Alice Cooper — A Paranormal Night at The Olympia Paris
  12. Fates Warning — Live Over Europe
  13. Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow — Memories in Rock II
  14. John 5 and The Creatures — It’s Alive
  15. Overkill — Live in Overhausen

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.


  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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