Franti’s Latest LP “Rocks” Phil’s PIcks 2016 Albums Of The Year List

Michael Franti and Spearhead Soulrocker Cover Art

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

The time has come.  Today is New Year’s Eve eve.  That means 2016 is nearly in the books.  With that year right at it’s end, it’s time for the last two of this year’s Phil’s Picks best of lists.

Rounding out this year’s lists are the year’s top new albums overall and the year’s top new overall movies.  The year’s top new albums list is up first.  It was not an easy list to assemble either as there were so many stand out records released from across the musical universe’s many genres.

This year’s top albums list is represented by music from the jazz community, the world of children’s music, rock, blues, and even reggae in the form of Michael Franti and Spearhead’s new album Soulrocker.

As with every previous Phil’s Picks list, this list features Phil’s Picks’ top 10 new titles plus five honorable mention titles, bringing the total count to 15.  Having noted that here for you is Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 new albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

 

  1. Michael Franti & SpearheadSoulrocker

 

  1. Santana IV

 

  1. Joe BonamassaBlues of Desperation

 

  1. YellowjacketsCohearance

 

  1. FoghatUnder The Influence

 

  1. The Okee Dokee BrothersSaddle Up

 

  1. Songs of the Night: Dance Recordings by the Joseph C. Smith Orchestra 1916 – 1925

 

  1. Marian HillAct I

 

  1. Love and a .38Nomad

 

  1. Red Hot Chili PeppersThe Getaway

 

  1. Rich RobinsonFlux

 

  1. Charles Lloyd and the MarvelsI Long To See You

 

  1. Logan Richardson Shift

 

  1. Tedeschi Trucks BandLet Me Get By

 

  1. Mountain HeartBlue Sky

 

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Santana Shines Again In Phil’s Picks’ 2016 Top 10 New Live DVDs/BDs List

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The weather outside is definitely looking frightful this time of year.  That means rather than going outside to get out and about, people are going to be looking more for ways to have fun while they stay indoors and stay warm.  That is just one of so many reasons that record labels churn out so many live recordings each year.  The problem with all of those recordings is that while some are truly standout offerings, others are otherwise forgettable space fillers used to fulfill contractual obligations for the given acts.  Presented today are some of the best of this year’s new live recordings.

Whereas Phil’s Picks already presented the year’s top new live CD recordings, this time Phil’s Picks is presenting the year’s top new live DVDs and Blu-rays.  A lot of thought and consideration went into this list.  The concerts’ set lists, the bands’ performances, the cinematography and audio mix all went into consideration for this list as did the recordings’ companion booklets or lack thereof.  So it goes without saying that it wasn’t an easy list to assemble.  But this critic tried.
As always, the list presented here includes not just this critic’s list of the year’s top new live DVDs and BDs but five honorable mention titles for a total of 15 recordings.  Without any further ado, here for you, is Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Live DVDs/BDs.
PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW LIVE DVDs/BDs
 
1. SantanaSantana IV Live at the House of Blues Las Vegas
2. KISSKISS Rocks Vegas
 
3. Joe BonamassaLive at the Greek Theatre
4. Judas PriestBattle Cry
5. Motley CrueThe End Live in Los Angeles
6. The Rolling StonesHavana Moon
7. Deep PurpleLive at the NEC
8. Melody GardotLive in Paris
9. Gregory PorterLive in Berlin
10. ScorpionsLive in Munich
11. Alan JacksonLive at Red Rocks
12. Michael Schenker’s Temple of RockRock on a MissionLive in Madrid
13. SaxonFeel Your Power
14. Imagine DragonsSmoke + Mirrors Live
15. Fall Out BoyThe Boys of Zummer TourLive in Chicago
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Bonamassa’s New Blues Record Is No Desperate Act From The Veteran Performer

Courtesy J&R Adventures

Courtesy J&R Adventures

Phil’s Picks has focused a lot lately on rock and other genres of music in the vastness of the musical universe.  Today, the focus shifts away from those genres to something a little bit less mainstream.  In today’s list, Phil’s Picks presents the year’s best new Jazz and blues records.  This year’s list presents a wide variety of acts, from more well-known acts such as The Rolling Stones, Joe Bonamassa and Yellowjackets to perhaps lesser known, but still talented acts such as Hazmat Modine, Takuya Kuroda and others.  It wasn’t an easy list to work up, either.  That’s because there was so much great material out there this year.  Combining jazz and blues into one list didn’t make things any easier.  But it got done.

As with every other list, the Top 10 New Jazz and Blues Albums features the year’s top 10 new jazz and blues albums.  It also includes five honorable mention titles for a total count of 15 albums.  That is not to take away anything from those honorable mention titles.  They are enjoyable in their own right and deserved to be noted, too.  Enough rambling.  Here, for everyone’s consideration, is Phil’s Picks’ 2016 Top 10 New Jazz and Blues Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW JAZZ AND BLUES ALBUMS

 

  1. Joe Bonamassa – Blues of Desperation

 

  1. YellowjacketsCohearance

 

  1. Joseph C. Smith OrchestraSongs of the Night

 

  1. John Coletrane – Trane 90

 

  1. The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome

 

  1. James Hunter SixHold On!

 

  1. Takuya KurodaZiggerzagger

 

  1. Fela Ransom Kuti & His Koola LubitesHigh Life: Jazz & Afro Soul (’63 – ’69)

 

  1. Gregory PorterTake Me To The Alley

 

  1. Quinn SullivanMidnight Highway

 

  1. Charles Lloyd & The MarvelsI Long To See You

 

  1. Logan RichardsonShift

 

  1. Hazmat ModineExtra – Deluxe – Supreme

 

  1. Keely Smith – The Intimate Keely Smith

 

  1. Jazz Haunts & Magic Vaults – The New Lost Classics of Resonance

 

 

 

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Santana Shows The Way In The Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Live CDs List

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Experiencing a live performance of one’s favorite act(s) is a very special event.  That is because it serves to help fans and their favorite acts connect in a way that taking in said acts’ studio releases just can’t.  What’s more attending live concerts isn’t always easy or inexpensive.  Between the cost of tickets, food, souvenirs, gas, and lodging, attending concerts can cost almost as much as a used car sometimes, depending on the act.  In other cases, one’s favorite acts might never even come near one’s town.  So what is a person to do to experience one’s favorite acts?  The answer is simple: the live recording.  That brings us to the topic of today’s “Best Of” list.

Today, Phil’s Picks presents its list of the year’s Top 10 New Live CDs.  Everyone should understand this is distinguished from the year’s top new live DVDs and BDs.  That’s because some recordings come only on CD while others are only presented on the latter format.  Others are also presented in both formats both separate of one another and collectively.  The recordings included in this list include both standalone CDs and CDs included in complete DVD/BD/CD sets.  One of the standalone live CDs included in this list is ZZ Top’s new live recording Greatest Hits Live.  The Outlaws’ Legacy Live is another of those standalone CD recordings.  Joe Bonamassa also has a new live recording in the form of Live at the Greek Theatre that is available on separate CD, DVD, and BD platforms.  It’s on this list, too.  Suffice it to say, there’s a healthy mix of new live titles here both in terms of genre and platform.  So, enough rambling.  Presented here for you is Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Live CDs.

It should be noted here again that the list includes the Phil’s Picks Top 10 new Live CDs as well as five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 recordings.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW LIVE CDs

 

  1. Santana IV Live at the House of Blues Las Vegas
  1. ZZ TopGreatest Hits Live
  1. Judas PriestBattle Cry
  1. KISSKISS Rocks Vegas
  1. Joe Bonamassa Live at the Greek Theatre
  1. The OutlawsLegacy Live

  2. The Rolling StonesHavana Moon

  3. Motley Crue – The End: Live in Los Angeles

  4. SaxonFeel Your Power

  5. Imagine DragonsSmoke + Mirrors Live

  6. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression

  7. Ayreon – The Theater Equation
  8. Pete Townshend’s Deep EndFace The Face

  9. Wacken 201526 Years Louder Than Hell

  10. LeprousLive at Rockefeller Center

 

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Blues Hall Of Fame Grand Opening Scheduled For Today

There’s big news for blues fans today.

The Blues Hall of Fame will officially open for the first time ever this morning at 10amET. Today’s grand opening of the band new building was preceded last night by the annual Blues Music Awards, which is now in its 36th year. The awards ceremony was held in front of a sold out crowd of 1500 people in downtown Memphis, TN at the Cook Convention Center.

Photo Credit: Charles Ragsdale II

Blues Hall of Fame Inductees. Some of those featured include: Tommy Brown, Bobby Rush, Charlie Musselwhite, Eddie Shaw, Dick Waterman, Billy Boy Arnold, John Hammond, Big Jay McNeely, Otis Clay, Bruce Iglauer and Mike Kappus. Photo Credit: Charles Ragsdale II

Twenty-four awards were handed out at last night’s ceremony. Elvin Bishop was the night’s big winner with three awards. His latest full-length release Can’t Even Do Right won for Best New Album. His Band took top honors in the Band category. And the album’s title track won for Best Song. Other winners on the night included: Joe Bonamassa (Best Instrumentalist—Guitar), Selwyn Birchwood (Best New Artist Album—Don’t Call No Ambulance) and Johnny Winter (Best Rock Blues Album—Step Back). The complete list of this year’s Blues Music Awards is noted below.

Blues Music Award winners (final)

  1. Acoustic Album:  Timeless– John Hammond
  2. Acoustic Artist: John Hammond
  3. Album: Can’t Even Do Wrong Right– Elvin Bishop
  4. B.B. King Entertainer: Bobby Rush
  5. Band: Elvin Bishop Band 
  6. Best New Artist Album: Don’t Call No Ambulance– Selwyn Birchwood                 
  7. Contemporary Blues Album: BluesAmericana – Keb’ Mo’
  8. Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Janiva Magness   
  9. Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Gary Clark Jr.
  10. Historical: Soul & Swagger: The Complete “5” Royales 1951-1967 – The “5” Royales (Rock Beat)
  11. Instrumentalist-Bass: Lisa Mann
  12. Instrumentalist-Drums: Jimi Bott
  13. Instrumentalist-Guitar: Joe Bonamassa
  14. Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Charlie Musselwhite
  15. Instrumentalist-Horn: Deanna Bogart
  16. Koko Taylor Award: Ruthie Foster
  17. Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Marcia Ball    
  18. Rock Blues Album: Step Back – Johnny Winter
  19. Song: “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right” written and performed by Elvin Bishop
  20. Soul Blues Album: Memphis Grease– John Németh
  21. Soul Blues Female Artist: Sista Monica
  22. Soul Blues Male Artist: Bobby Rush
  23. Traditional Blues Album:  For Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters)– Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson
  24. Traditional Blues Male Artist: Lurrie Bell
Blues Hall of Fame inductees at BHOF ribbon cutting ceremony: Otis Clay, Eddie Shaw, Big Jay McNeely, Bobby Rush, John Hammond, Tommy Brown, Billy Boy Arnold. Photo by Mariah Selitsch

Blues Hall of Fame inductees at BHOF ribbon cutting ceremony: Otis Clay, Eddie Shaw, Big Jay McNeely, Bobby Rush, John Hammond, Tommy Brown, Billy Boy Arnold. Photo by Mariah Selitsch

On the eve of the Blues Hall of Fame’s official opening, Little Richard, Tommy Brown, and Eric Clapton became the institution’s latest inductees. They join the likes of B.B. King, Etta James, T-Bone Walker and one hundred forty-three others that have been inducted over the past three decades plus. Fifty-one non-performers have also been added to the hall along with eighty-three of the greatest blues singles ever crafted, and forty books and magazines centered on the blues.

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“Concerto” Documentary A Fitting Tribute To Lord’s Memory

Courtesy:   Eagle  Rock Entertainment/Thompson Music/E.A.R. Music

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Thompson Music/E.A.R. Music

When Metallica recorded its now fan favorite live album S&M with the San Francisco Symphony, that recording was lauded by fans and critics alike. The praise showered on the band was fully justified. It was considered by some to be a groundbreaking performance because it was the coming together of two entirely separate musical worlds. What many people might not know is that S&M was not in fact the first time that the two worlds have come together. Former Deep Purple member Jon Lord crafted and performed his now famous Concerto for Group and Orchestra almost forty-five years ago in 1969. That performance was truly groundbreaking. Sadly, cancer claimed Lord in July of 2012. Thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment though, Lord’s opus finally saw the light of day that same year. And now again thanks to Eagle Rock, audiences are taken even deeper into Lord’s majestic and magical composition thanks to a new documentary on that record. There is a lot to like about this recently released documentary. The documentary’s behind-the-scenes main feature is the main portion of what audiences will appreciate in this release.  Audiences are provided a history of Lord’s original performance of his opus in order to set up the more recent recording session.  As part of the recording process, viewers will also get to hear from some big names that helped bring the recording to life. Audiences will also appreciate that not only are they taken behind the scenes of the recording’s birth, but they are also provided with two opportunities to hear the recording in the new Blu-ray presentation.  It is included both as a bonus feature on the Blu-ray itself, and as its own separate CD as even more of a bonus.  All of this taken into consideration makes the documentary on Jon Lord’s Concert for Group & Orchestra quite the interesting work.

Far too many record labels in today’s music industry add “making of documentaries” to their new albums and try to pawn them off on fans as something special.  The problem is that so few of those “documentaries” in question are really worth the extra money shelled out by hard working audiences.  Jon Lord: Concerto for Group& is not one of those releases.  This documentary gives audiences a full history of the former Deep Purple member’s iconic song, from its very first ever performance in 1969 at the famed Royal Albert Hall to its first non-live recording in 2012.  Audiences see just how much work went into putting his composition to record.  It’s a fitting tribute to the musician, who sadly lost his battle with cancer just last year.  From the initial setup to the recording of each part and everything in-between, viewers will see that this isn’t just another one of those albums where each part was recorded separately in different studios.  This understanding will generate a whole new appreciation for the song and everything that went into actually doing a “studio” recording of it.  This applies to listeners that are both more familiar with Lord’s work and those that might be less so.

Along the course of the documentary, viewers get to hear from some of the biggest names in the rock world that took part in the recording process.  Those names include greats such as Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden and blues/rock guitar great Joe Bonamassa among so many others.  The respect shared between them and Lord is obvious through their shared commentary and by the seriousness with which they approached their respective roles in the overall composition.

The overall presentation of the documentary here is exceptional to say the least.  From the composition’s history to its first official studio recording, so much information is shared on its importance.  As impressive as the main feature is, Eagle Rock didn’t stop there.  Eagle Rock has included as a bonus for fans, the complete Concerto for Group & Orchestra both on its own CD and as a bonus feature on the primary Blu-ray disc.  And it’s not all that is included as a bonus, either.  Eagle Rock has exceeded expectations once again with this documentary’s bonus material.  Also included as bonus material is are interviews with Paul Mann and Marco de Groeji.  Mann conducted the orchestra assembled for the new recording of Concerto for Group & Orchestra.  The insight that he shares is something special.  That’s because of his understanding of and appreciation for the worlds of both rock and classical, as well as for Lord himself.  His interview and that with others involved with the record’s production more than live up to the title of bonus features. Together with the documentary’s main feature, they collectively make this release one that transcends genres.  It’s one that fans of both classical and rock will enjoy. It is available now in stores and online.   More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  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.

Bonamassa Still On A Roll With His Latest Live Release

Courtesy:  J&R Adventures

Courtesy: J&R Adventures

Joe Bonamassa has been on quite the roll as of late.  After having released what was one of 2012’s Top 10 Live Recordings last year, Bonamassa has picked up 2013 exactly where he left 2012; with one of this year’s top live recordings.  That recording is An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House.

An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House has been released both on Blu-ray and DVD as well as double CD set.  That audiences have been offered so many options alone makes this new recording one of 2013’s best.  The audio companion to the Blu-ray and DVD portion is nice to have.  Though, the Blu-ray and DVD offer audiences the best experience.  The video and audio are both top notch, especially on the Blu-ray.  That is especially the case for those with a home surround sound theater system.  Collected here in this performance are stripped down versions of songs from Bonamassa’s previously released albums.  Long time fans will recognize: ‘The Ballad of John Henry’, ‘Jelly Roll’, ‘Seagull’, ‘Dust Bowl’, ‘Sloe Gin’, and the title track from his most recent album, ‘Driving Toward The Daylight’ just to name a handful.  They are just part of the enjoyment that audiences get from this latest live release from one of the music industry’s current top guitarists.

The songs performed in this set are enjoyable in and of themselves.  But it’s not just the songs that are enjoyable.  The concert’s setting adds to the enjoyment factor.  It’s a basic, stripped down set with J.B. sitting calmly out front, singing and playing his instrument, and his band mates backing him.  There are no special effects, no pyrotechnics, and no special lighting rigs.  It’s just a group of musicians, their instruments, and the audience.  It’s music as it should be experienced.  Watching J.B. with nothing but his shades and his guitar, sweating as he played the blues echoed hints of legends the likes of Robert Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt.  It is simply put a pure, raw experience.  And thanks to those behind the cameras, the experience is that much more incredible.

Thanks to producer Kevin Shirley, director Philippe Klose, and all others involved, the recorded performance has made for one of 2013’s Top 10 Live Recordings.  Both the video and audio presented in the Blu-ray disc are crystal clear.  The performance here is presented in widescreen, adding yet another touch to the overall product.  That the performance was recorded at the Vienna Opera House makes it even more special.  The juxtaposition of this modern artist performing a mix of modern and classic blues pieces in one of Vienna’s most famed structures puts the whole thing over the top.  Now, had the CD, DVD and Blu-ray been released in one large box as an option, it might have made its way to the very top of the year’s Top 10 Live Recordings list.  Regardless, considering all of what has been noted, it still remains one of this year’s top Live Recordings.  It is both an excellent introduction to Joe Bonamassa’s music for new audiences, and a must have for long time fans.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the official Joe Bonamassa website at http://jbstore.jbonamassa.com/blu-ray/an-acoustic-evening-at-the-vienna-opera-house-blu-ray/.

For those itching to see Joe live, he is currently touring in support of this new live release.  He is currently finishing up a string of U.K. dates and will be returning to the U.S. on April 12th at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, Washington.  Fans in North Carolina will possibly get the chance to see him later this year as he is scheduled to perform at the Crown Theatre in Fayetteville, North Carolina on November 10th.  That performance will be followed up by a performance at the Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 12th.  For a full listing of tour dates and all the latest news, go online to the official Joe Bonamassa website, http://www.jbonamassa.com or his official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/JoeBonamassa.

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