Marco Pignataro’s Dream Alliance’s ‘Awakening’ Is A Unique Addition To 2022’s New Live Recordings Field

Courtesy: Zoho Music

Veteran jazz saxophonist Marco Pignataro opened April with the release of a new live recording in the form of Marco Pignataro’s Dream Alliance: Awakening. Recorded in July 2021 at Boston’s GBH Fraser Studio with his fellow musicians, Kenny Werner (piano, vocals), Nadia Washington (vocals, guitar), and Devon Gates (bass, vocals), the performance was a virtual concert. Now nine months after it was captured, that concert has come home on CD through Zoho Music. It is certain to appeal to Pignataro’s established audiences and very targeted jazz audiences. That is due in part to the concert’s set list, which will be discussed shortly. The concert’s production is just as noteworthy as its set list, and will be examined a little later. The concert’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make the concert a presentation that jazz fans will find worth hearing at least once.

Marco Pignataro’s Dream Alliance: Awakening, the new live recording from Marco Pignataro, is a unique live presentation from the veteran jazz saxophonist and his fellow musicians. That is proven in part through its featured set list. The set list is composed of a variety of originals, covers and even spoken word pieces whose run times bring the record’s run time to more than 50 minutes. The spoken word songs are performed by Washington with poems that were crafted by Pignataro. Pignataro and company meanwhile, offer light, subtle, original musical backings for each performance. The whole of those moments will lead audiences to conjure thoughts of those hipster night clubs where just such performances would take place. The only difference is that the bongos and people with black berets would be replaced with people of much higher class. Just as interesting to note is that the spoken word performances are short, the longest clocking in at only two minutes, eight seconds. So in reality, they are their own performances, but at the same time, serve double duty as interludes, so to speak, within the concert’s bigger picture. Their addition within the record, to that end, makes them their own interesting aspect.

The covers featured in the set list meanwhile, are important in their own right. Their number is limited to just four, but they are quite well-known works in themselves. One of the covers, that of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Send One Your Love’ opens the record. The group’s performance here is even more relaxed than Wonder’s original, which itself is subdued in its own approach. Washington’s R&B-tinged vocal approach does so well in the place of Wonder, while the omission of any drums in this case actually improves on the original. The subtle use of the guitar alongside her vocal delivery is a clear illustration that less can be and is so much more. Even the occasional accents from Pignataro on the soprano sax makes for its own touch. The whole makes for an interesting presentation in its own right.

Touching on the recording’s originals, ‘Farfallina’ is among the most notable tracks. It is notable in part because while it is centered on one of Pignataro’s poems, it is not presented as one of the concert’s spoken word performances. Washington actually sings the lines composed by Pignataro, singing about a butterfly, which of course is a metaphorical term here. The pairing of Pignataro’s performance on the saxophone and that of Werner on the piano along with the vocal layering incorporated at times — which makes for an interesting call and response effect — makes the overall performance quite unique in its own right. When it and the other originals are considered along with the covers and the spoken word tracks, the whole of the concert’s set list gives audiences reason enough in itself to take in the virtual concert. Of course the set list is just part of what makes the recording worth hearing. The concert’s production adds its own touch to the appeal of its presentation.

The production that went into Awakenings is of note because again, the concert was recorded and presented sans audience. That means those responsible for the sound mix did not have that crowd noise to balance with the musicians. In its absence, those responsible for the production still had to ensure that the musicians’ performances were balanced within the confines of the performance space and the acoustics therein. The utmost attention was clearly paid to balancing each instrument with its counterpart. The painstaking work that went into balancing that audio paid off, as the noted audiences will find this aspect just as positive as the mix of content in the concert’s set list.

Awakenings‘ packaging rounds out its most important elements. The packaging refers here, to the overall content provided with the recording. On the back of the package, the covers and originals are denoted with credit for the covers give to their original acts. The originals are credited to the group, and those within the group. Case in point, Werner composed the late entry, ‘Inspiration,’ and is given his due credit. The Beatles (specifically, John Lennon and Paul McCartney) composed ‘Because,’ one of the concert’s featured covered. They receive their own credit. Giving credit where due not only is a legal issue, but also ensures audiences know which songs are originals and which are covers right off the bat.

Also within the packaging are liner notes pointing out that each of the featured works (musical and spoken word alike) follow one theme, that of love in each form. From romantic to familial and other, the liner notes within the package let audiences know that the songs’ focus was intentional from one to the next. The liner notes also explain the use of the poems in the spoken word performances, making for appreciation for those moments, too. Speaking of the poems that Pignataro wrote, they are presented as part of the overall packaging, too. Keeping that in mind along with the rest of the information provided in the packaging, the whole of this element clearly shows this element’s importance to the recording’s presentation, too. When this element is considered along with the rest of the recording’s items, the whole makes Awakenings a unique addition to this year’s field of new live recordings.

Marco Paignataro’s Dream Alliance’s Awakening is an intriguing live recording. Its interest comes in part through its set list. The set list features a combination of originals, covers, and spoken word songs. The combination of songs is unique in itself. The production that went into the virtual performance ensures the concert’s sound is just as appealing to the noted targeted audiences as the songs themselves. The packaging puts the final touch to the recording, rounding out its most important elements. Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make Awakening a presentation that Pignataro’s audiences and specific jazz audiences will find appealing.

Awakening is available through Zoho Music. More information on the record is available along with all of Marco Pignataro’s latest news at:




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‘1221’ Marks Another Success For Singer-Songwriter-Musician Ryan Hamilton

Courtesy: Wicked Cool Records

Independent singer-songwriter Ryan Hamilton made a big splash last year with his album, Nowhere To Go But Everywhere alongside his band, The Harlequin Ghosts.  Now more than a year after the record’s release, Hamilton is scheduled to return Friday with its follow-up, his new solo record, 1221.  With barely more than a month left in the quickly aging year, most critics will agree the 12-song record has shaken up their lists of the year’s top new independent albums.  That is proven from the beginning to end of the 42-minute presentation through its musical and lyrical content alike.  ‘Déjà Vu I Love You’ is a prime example of the strength of that collective content.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Babies’ is another way in which the record’s overall content shows the album’s appeal.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Ready To Love Again,’ is yet another example of how much this record has to offer audiences.  It will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the other two songs noted her and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole shows the record to be unquestionably one more of the year’s top new independent albums.

More than a year after the release of his then latest album, Nowhere To Go But Everywhere (which made its way to this critic’s list of 2020’s top new independent albums), Ryan Hamilton is set to go two for two with his new solo record, 1221.  Composed of singles that he released over the course of 2021, the record is yet another example of Hamilton’s talent as a singer, songwriter, and musician.  This is proven from beginning to end of this nearly 45-minute presentation from early on in its run.  ‘Déjà vu I Love You’ is a prime way in which this is proven.  The song’s appeal comes in part through its musical arrangement, which takes audiences back to the 90s right from its outset.  The combination of Hamilton’s vocals and the song’s instrumentation immediately lends the arrangement to comparison to works from the likes of Weezer, Marcy Playground, and so many other pop rock acts that rose to fame during the mid-90s.  The vocal harmonies and those crated by the bass and guitar are infectious from the song’s opening notes to its end.  The production that went into the song gives the whole, including the work on drums and bass, such a rich presentation.  Again, the whole is certain to completely engage and entertain audiences throughout the song’s three minute-plus run time.  The upbeat energy and positive vibes established through the arrangement work well with the song’s lyrical theme, which is the familiar topic of love found.

The theme of love found is obvious in ‘Déjà Vu I Love You’ right in the song’s title.  It is even more so as Hamilton sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “A slow dance/In the fast lane/The romance/The pleasure and the pain/You put your heart up/But then it fell/Because it feels right/Man, it’s heaven/But it’s how you make a promise/And you keep it/You wanna shout it/But it’s a secret/Hey, you got it wrong, man/But it’s right now/You can’t help it/You’re gonna shout it out loud/Baby, I love you/Baby, I love you/You give me déjà vu/Baby, I love you.”  If that is not proof enough of this song’s theme, then nothing is.  The rest of the song follows similarly in its lyrical theme, so there is really no need to continue from there.  Again, this so excited mood that is exemplified here matches so well with the energy and mood in the song’s arrangement.  When all of this is paired together, it makes the song a clear example of how much the album overall has to offer through its content.  ‘Babies’ is another example of the impact of the album’s content on its appeal.

‘Babies’ is quite opposite of ‘Déjà Vu I Love You’ both musically and lyrically.  Where the prior song is so optimistic and happy, this song’s musical arrangement is more of a folk-pop style composition in its musical arrangement.  In listening to this song’s arrangement, one can’t help but wonder if Hamilton perhaps took some influence from John Lennon and/or The Beatles or maybe even some from Bob Dylan and/or Bruce Springsteen here.  The arrangement has that sort of neo pop-folk approach in its light, contemplative mood and mid-tempo energy.  There is a sense of melancholy here, but it is not so strong that it will bring anyone down.  Rather, it is a contemplative melancholy that matches its lyrical counterpart well in its own right.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘Babies’ is a social commentary, despite what its title might infer.  It is a commentary about the state of the world today.  This is made clear right from the song’s outset as Hamilton sings, “Little babies/In bathrooms/Getting high/Little babies/In little cars/Flying by/Geneation X/Generation Y/The world’s so hard sometimes/It makes me cry/And where we are/That’s where we will be/Everything changes as far as I can see/But one thing stays the same/Everybody’s always looking for someone to blame.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Little babies holding whips/Sinking boats and building ships/And bright, blue buildings in the sky/And never wondering/Why/God made it all to be destroyed/Every baby girl and every baby boy/Everything you do is safe/The only thing you’ll ever have is today.”  The added notes of “little babies looking for flags to burn” and everybody being afraid adds even more to that commentary. The fully, straight forward fashion in which Hamilton delivers the commentary avoids any preachy nature while still presenting so much depth.  It makes the song so much more accessible even with the theme being so familiar across the musical universe.  That, considered along with the song’s arrangement, makes for even more accessibility and in turn shows that much more what makes 1221 in whole such an enjoyable presentation.  It is hardly the last of the record’s most notable songs.  ‘Ready To Love Again,’ the record’s closer is yet another of the most notable of the album’s songs.

‘Ready To Love Again’ is notable because as with the other songs examined here, its arrangement does so well to engage and entertain audiences.  The arrangement’s sound and instrumentation does just as well to help translate the mood and wording in the song’s lyrical theme.  As the song’s title infers, this is a song about someone who is apparently coming off of the heartbreak of a breakup.  Everybody who has ever been through a breakup knows the emotional difficulty of opening his/her heart back to love.  The somber tone exhibited by the simplicity of Hamilton’s vocals and the piano here does so well to translate those mixed emotions that one feels when they “might be ready to love again.”  The gentle tone from the cello alongside the piano adds even more emotional depth to the arrangement and translates that mood and mindset that so many people feel in this situation.  Kudos to Hamilton and all involved for their work here.  It made this arrangement so beautiful and powerful in its simplicity.

As noted, the lyrical theme that accompanies the musical arrangement in ‘Ready To Love Again’ is in fact about that very topic, being at that point of being cautiously ready to give love a chance again.  He translates that moment so well here lyrically, too as he sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Built a big wall/One that won’t fall/I hope you’re real strong/Good luck getting’ through here/I’ve got a big heart/It’s covered in big scars/We’ve all got our reasons/And sad stories to tell/I think I might be ready/Think I might be ready to love again/I think I might be ready/Think I might be ready to love again.  He continues in the song’s second verse, “No more small talk/Let’s go for a long walk/Take my hand/And hold on tight/Broken hearted/But just getting started/I know you’ve got questions/And to tell you the truth/I think I might be ready/Think I might be ready to love again/I think I might be ready/Think I might be ready to love again.”  The cautious optimism that Hamilton’s subject expresses here will connect with any listener.  The manner in which he delivered that optimism through the song’s lyrical presentation is just so moving, along with the song’s musical arrangement.  When the two items are joined, they show even more clearly at this point why this song stands out among the album’s entries.  When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of 1221 becomes a work that is a complete joy and success from start to end.  It is a presentation that as with its predecessor, is among the best of the year’s new independent albums.

Ryan Hamilton’s new, forthcoming album 1221 is another strong new offering from the singer-songwriter-musician.   It has much to offer audiences both in its musical and lyrical content.  The songs examined here do well to support the noted statements.  They openly exemplify the accessibility of that content and the entertainment that said accessibility generates, too.  The same applies to the record’s other songs, too.  All things considered, the content examined here and that which makes up the rest of this album makes the record another successful offering from Hamilton that is among the best of this year’s new independent albums.

1221 is scheduled for release Friday through Wicked Cool Records. More information on the album is available along with all of Ryan Hamilton’s latest news at:




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Eagle Rock Entertainment To Release New Lennon/Ono Documentary Next Month

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release a new profile of John Lennon and Yoko Ono next month.

John Lennon & Yoko OnoAbove Us Only Sky is scheduled for release Sept. 13 on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital.  The documentary follows Lennon and Ono in a previously untold story of the couple and how their relationship led to the creation of Imagine.

Headed by Emmy Award -winning and Oscar nominated director Michael Epstein, the documentary examines how the couple’s personal views on items, such as politics, art and activism played into the duo’s personal life and the eventual creation of Imagine.  It features a new, exclusive interview with Ono as part of that story as well as interviews with those close to the couple such as their son Julian, photographer David Bailey — who captured Lennon and Ono for a cover photo of Vogue magazine in 1971 — and the couple’s personal assistant Dan Richter.

The trailer for John Lennon & Yoko OnoAbove Us Only Sky is streaming now.  Pre-orders are open now.

More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:






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ABKCO To Release Archived Rolling Stones Concert

Courtesy; ABKCO Films/ABKCO Music & Records

The Rolling Stones’ fans are getting another archived show from the band this summer.

ABKCO Films and ABKCO Music & Records will release The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus June 7.  Originally recorded over the course of two days in December 1968 at the BBC Studios to promote the band’s then new album Beggar’s Banquet, the show ended up not being aired after then bassist Brian Jones left the band and later died.  The recording’s trailer is streaming now here.

Along with six vintage performances from The Rolling Stones, the recording also features performances from Taj Mahal, John Lennon, Marianne Faithful, Jethro Tull and The Who.

The performances are complimented by bonus content, such as interviews with John Lennon, Pete Townshend, and a handful of extra performances from Taj Mahal and Julius Katchen.  The full track listing for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus is noted below along with the recording’s bonus content.

The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (4K FILM)


Song For Jeffrey – Jethro Tull

A Quick One While He’s Away – The Who

Ain’t That A Lot Of Love – Taj Mahal

Something Better – Marianne Faithfull

Yer Blues – The Dirty Mac

Whole Lotta Yoko – Yoko Ono & Ivry Gitlis, and The Dirty Mac

Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones

Parachute Woman – The Rolling Stones

No Expectations – The Rolling Stones

You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones

Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones

Salt Of The Earth – The Rolling Stones



Widescreen Feature, Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (65 min)

Pete Townshend Interview, Aspect Ratio: 4×3 (18 min)

The Dirty Mac:

‘Yer Blues’ Tk2 Quad Split, Aspect Ratio: 4×3 (5:43)

Taj Mahal:

-Checkin’ Up On My Baby, Aspect Ratio: 4×3 (5:37)

-Leaving Trunk, Aspect Ratio: 4×3 (6:20)

-Corinna, Aspect Ratio: 4×3 (3:49)

Julius Katchen:

de Falla: Ritual Fire Dance, Aspect Ratio: 4×3 (6:30)

-Mozart: Sonata In C Major-1st MovementAspect Ratio: 4×3 (2:27)

Mick & The Tiger/ Luna & The Tiger, Ratio: 4×3 (1:35) 

Bill Wyman & The Clowns, Aspect Ratio: 4×3 (2:00)

Lennon, Jagger, & Yoko backstage, Aspect Ratio: 4×3 (45sec)



Life Under The Big Top (Artists) Featuring: Mick Jagger, Ian Anderson, Taj Mahal, Yoko Ono, Bill Wyman, Keith Richards (65 min)

Framing The Show (Director & Cinematographer) Featuring: Michael Lindsay HoggTony Richmond (65 min)

Musings (artists, writer, fan who was there) Featuring: Marianne FaithfullDavid DaltonDavid Stark (50 min)


The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus Expanded Audio Edition

1. Mick Jagger’s Introduction Of Rock And Roll Circus – Mick Jagger

2. Entry Of The Gladiators – Circus Band

3. Mick Jagger’s Introduction Of Jethro Tull – Mick Jagger

4. Song For Jeffrey – Jethro Tull

5. Keith Richards’ Introduction Of The Who – Keith Richards

6. A Quick One While He’s Away – The Who

7. Over The Waves – Circus Band

8. Ain’t That A Lot Of Love – Taj Mahal

9. Charlie Watts’ Introduction Of Marianne Faithfull – Charlie Watts

10. Something Better – Marianne Faithfull

11. Mick Jagger’s and John Lennon’s Introduction Of The Dirty Mac

12. Yer Blues – The Dirty Mac

13. Whole Lotta Yoko – Yoko Ono & Ivry Gitlis with The Dirty Mac

14. John Lennon’s Introduction Of The Rolling Stones + Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones

15. Parachute Woman – The Rolling Stones

16. No Expectations – The Rolling Stones

17. You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones

18. Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones

19. Salt Of The Earth – The Rolling Stones


20. Checkin’ Up On My Baby – Taj Mahal

21. Leaving Trunk – Taj Mahal

22. Corinna – Taj Mahal

23. Revolution (rehearsal) – The Dirty Mac

24. Warmup Jam – The Dirty Mac

25. Yer Blues (take 2) – The Dirty Mac

26. Brian Jones’ Introduction of Julius Katchen – Brian Jones

27. de Falla: Ritual Fire Dance – Julius Katchen

28. Mozart: Sonata In C Major-1st Movement – Julius Katchen 

Courtesy: ABKCO Films/ABKCO Music & Records

The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus will be available on digital download and limited deluxe edition Blu-ray/DVD/2CD.  The soundtrack will be available on 3LP vinyl set, CD and digital platforms.  The deluxe edition release of the film features a 44-page book that includes David Dalton’s original 1969 Rolling Stones essay and photographs by Michael Randolph.

Pre-orders for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus are open now. An unboxing video for the set is streaming online here.

More information on this and other titles from ABKCO Music & Records is available online now at:






The Rolling Stones’ latest news and more is available online now at:





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Eagle Rock Entertainment’s New Lennon, ‘Imagine’ Retrospective Will Appeal To Lennon, Beatles Fans Alike

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

John Lennon’s Imagine is one of the most important albums in music history.  Whether one is a fan of Lennon, The Beatles or just an audiophile in general, the stylistic change in this record from his work with Lennon’s former Beatles band mates showed a dramatic change of pace for the late, great musician. Now thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, the most devout Beatles and Lennon fans finally get to see for themselves how Imagine was created while also taking in the album complete with visualizations in the form of the recently released presentation, Imagine & Gimme Some Truth.  The two-part presentation offers plenty for the noted audiences to appreciate, beginning with that noted dual presentation.  This will be discussed shortly.  The companion booklet that comes with the presentation is just as important to discuss in examining the Blu-ray’s presentation as the primary content.  It will be discussed a little later.  The bonus content included in the Blu-ray rounds out its most important elements, and will also be discussed later.  All things considered, Imagine & Gimme Some Truth proves to be a presentation that the most devoted fans of John Lennon and The Beatles will find appealing.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s recently released John Lennon doc Imagine & Gimme Some Truth is a presentation that the most devoted fans of Lennon and The Beatles will find appealing.  As noted already, that is due in part to the primary content presented in the program.  Eagle Rock Entertainment has presented here a vintage presentation that follows the creation of his landmark album Imagine as well as a full presentation of the album complete with home videos of Lennon and his widow Yoko Ono.  The doc presents the original in-studio footage of Lennon and his then band mates at work figuring out how to make each song the best that it can be as part of the presentation.  What makes this interesting is that audiences get to see Lennon not just as a performer, but as an artist and a real person.  It’s not always the smiling John Lennon that so many people might remember.  Audiences see that happy guy, but also someone who was human and got frustrated at times, too.  Some might ask why is this important, especially considering that John Lennon is no longer with us.  What is important is that it serves as another reminder that celebrities are not super humans.  They are ordinary people, just like everyone else.  What’s more, audiences get to hear some raw mixes of the songs that would end up on the record while also getting that fly on the wall vantage point of the creative process.  Getting to hear a raw, demo session of ‘Imagine’ itself presents a completely different vocal approach from Lennon than what is heard on record, for example, as well as a slightly different arrangement.  Audiences also get to take in the in-studio recording of ‘Gimme Some Truth,’ which stylistically harkens back to the likes of ‘Helter Skelter.’  Again, here is another important point for the documentary portion of the presentation.  Between all of this and so much more, the documentary proves to be a work that will please, again, the most devoted fans of John Lennon and The Beatles.

The full musical presentation of ‘Imagine’ is a bonus for those fans as it is the original presentation recorded by Yoko Ono and John Lennon together.  The companion booklet that comes with this presentation explains the history behind the film, which is interesting, even for those who might not be as devout as others in their fandom.  As is noted in the booklet, making the film was alien territory for Lennon, but apparently not so much for Ono, which led to some of its more intriguing moments.  Audiences get in the film, home video footage of Lennon and Ono, as well as more artsy type of footage, such as Lennon and Ono sitting at an art display with human-like figures at a table, and the couple walking around in a forest apparently looking for one another just to note a couple of instances.  The home video footage includes footage of the couple at their home together, and with a number of celebs, such as Miles Davis, Andy Warhol and Jack Palance.  Again, the most devout fans of The Beatles and John Lennon will find it all appealing.  Those who might be more casual listeners will at least appreciate getting to hear Imagine in its whole after going through the making of documentary that itself is vintage footage.  That vintage footage in both presentations adds even more appeal for fans as it wasn’t tweaked for the presentation here.  It is exactly the same footage presented in its original presentation.  To that end, the two-part presentation that forms the foundation of Imagine & Gimme Some Truth makes that foundation strong to say the least.  The companion booklet that came with that primary content strengthens that foundation even more.

As noted already, the companion booklet that joins the Blu-ray’s primary content is so important because of what it adds to the Blu-ray’s presentation.  It presents the words of Lennon and Ono themselves instead of the typical liner notes written by a journalist, biographer or other personality.  The notes, obviously written around the same time as the Imagine film, clearly show the time and thought put into the film’s creation so many years ago.  Ono discusses Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton movies in her notes as inspiration for the film’s stylistic approach at one point.  At another point, Lennon talks about the cameras following him and his fellow musicians around the studio as the album was being made.  He also writes jokingly about the man in the bag who walked around London in one point of Imagine.  At yet another point, Lennon talks about Ono’s apparent talent with film making, how that led to the film’s outcome and his feeling on the outcome.  It’s just one more commentary that, again, truly devout fans of Lennon and the Beatles will appreciate.  Between all of this and the rest of the commentary featured throughout the booklet, the whole of that content builds on the foundation formed by the program’s two-part primary content to give the noted audiences even more reason to view this presentation.  Even as much as this content offers audiences, it is not all that audiences have to appreciate here.  The bonus material included in the program rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus material features bonus outtakes of performances from Gimme Some Truth not included in the final presentation of that studio presentation.  Audiences get as bonuses, outtakes of the sessions for ‘Jealous Guy,’ ‘How?’ and ‘Gimme Some Truth.’  Again, the bonus features show Lennon and company hard at work in a setting that audiences might not be so commonly seen in other Lennon and Beatles presentations.  As an additional bonus, audiences also get to see a photoshoot of Lennon in studio that is used to create pictures to promote Imagine.  Again, it’s one more display of the creative process for the record.  It’s one more item for Beatles and John Lennon fans to appreciate.  When it is considered along with the bonus studio outtakes, the breadth of information shared by Ono and Lennon themselves in the presentation’s companion booklet and the primary two-part program that forms the program’s foundation, the whole proves to be a work that the most devout Lennon and The Beatles fans will find appealing.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s recently released profile of John Lennon’s landmark album Imagine is a work that the most devout fans of The Beatles and John Lennon will find appealing.  That is due in part to the two-part primary content that forms the presentation’s foundation.  The rich background that is provided through the Blu-ray’s companion booklet strengthens that foundation even more.  The bonus studio outtakes put the finishing touch to the Blu-ray’s presentation.  Each element is important in its own right to the whole of this Blu-ray.  All things considered, they make this a work that, once again, the most devout fans of The Beatles and John Lennon will appreciate.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:










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The Dead Daisies Celebrate Holidays With Christmas Classic Cover

The Dead Daisies have released their take on a classic holiday tune to celebrate the season.

The band recently recorded its take on the modern classic song ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over) while on tour overseas.  The song was first made famous by John Lennon with Yoko Ono in 1971 with the Harlem Community Choir and the John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band.

The Dead Daisies’ take on the song is a full-on acoustic rendition of the classic.  It gives the composition a whole new identity with its arrangement and production.  Audiences can hear the band’s take on the song now here.

More information on the band’s new cover is available online now along with all of its latest news and more at:










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Live In Tokyo Presents A Master Musician At His Finest

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The term master is a word that is generally used for someone who has spent many years honing one’s talents. And not only that, but someone whose time honing his or her talents have paid off in the most positive ways possible both for himself/herself and for others. There are masters in every profession. There are master carpenters. There are master chefs. There are even master electricians and martial artists. So what makes a musician a master at his or her own craft? The answer is much the same as those people who spend their own lives honing their crafts. It leads to yet another question: Who are the masters in the music industry today? Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Queen are just a few acts that come to mind. Another master that comes to mind is the hugely talented and so humble guitarist Jeff Beck. His latest live recording Live in Tokyo is proof positive of why Beck is deserving and has been deserving of the title of master for many years. That s evident throughout the hour and a half-long set. Beck shows so much talent and humility throughout the show, handling his own tunes and covering songs from other masters, too. Along the way, Beck lets his band mates keep the center stage while he does his own thing. Staying on that line of thought, Beck’s own on-stage presence in this concert shows even more why he is considered one of the masters. He shows that he doesn’t need big antics or even big riffs to make an impact on his audiences. And last but not least worth noting as proof of his position is the fact that Beck didn’t need to spend any time between songs killing time. He let his music (and that of his band mates) speaks so loudly in its beauty and impact that it speaks perfectly for itself. It left no need to waste any time between songs, thus making the performance presented here so enjoyable. And in the end, it leaves not even a shadow of a doubt as to why Jeff Beck is one of the true masters in his field.

Jeff Beck is a master of his field. He has far more than proven this throughout the course of his decades-long career. From his earliest days as a member of the famed Yardbirds up to his current solo career. His latest live recording Live in Tokyo shows without a shadow of a doubt why some five-plus decades since he first started making a name for himself he is considered one of the industry’s true masters. Beck proves why he is one of the industry’s masters on Live in Tokyo first and foremost through the concert’s set list. He breezes through his own compositions and those of other masters from across the music industry. Those masters include: Jimi Hendrix, Charles Mingus, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and even John Lennon and Paul McCartney among others. The fact that Beck handles such variety of music with equal ease shows great talent. It also shows a great knowledge and respect for the history built by said masters as audiences will hear for themselves throughout the concert. He performs with such ease. Yet it’s obvious he never takes for granted his craft nor the talents of those to whom he pays tribute. Such great talent and respect for his fellow musicians in this form proves without a shadow of a doubt why Jeff Beck is considered a master. It’s definitely not the only way he proves it here (as if he really needed to do so). He also proves himself a master through his humility, which could be included in his on-stage presence.

While Jeff Beck’s name graces the cover of his new live recording, his on-stage presence proves to be a total counter to that billing. He shows so much humility throughout the course of the concert, letting his band mates–Jonathan Joseph (drums), Nicholas Meier (guitar), and Rhonda Smith (bass)–take the center stage most of the time. He doesn’t just fade into the background by any means. But he also doesn’t show himself to be like other well-known musicians who try to covertly hog the limelight while their band mates try to shine. He shows quite the level of humility, allowing Joseph, Meier, and Smith to display their talents just as much as himself if not more. It’s really something rare to behold especially in the current era of the music industry. It’s also quite refreshing. That humility coupled with Beck’s own talents show here even more why Beck is justifiably considered a master.

Staying on the matter of Beck’s talents, He shows with his talents that he doesn’t need huge riffs, pyro, crazy antics (  without his guitar) or other extras to entertain audiences. He doesn’t show the need to speed through any of the songs, either. He more than lives up to the adage that it takes a real musician to play slow and with control. What’s more he lives up to that adage more than once throughout the course of the concert. That casual approach oddly enough actually makes the performance even more enjoyable. In turn it proves yet more why Jeff Beck is one of the greatest of the music industry’s masters.

Jeff Beck proves in so many ways throughout Live in Tokyo why decades after he first broke out he is considered one of the best in the game. He shows why through his humility, his knowledge and respect for the history of music, and through his own ability to entertain audiences without really having to try. One more way that he proves his place in the music industry’s upper echelons is through the fact that he didn’t even need to spend any time killing time between songs to entertain audiences. His talents (and  his band mates) prove so substantial throughout the concert that audiences won’t feel like they are losing anything in that lack of interaction. Audiences will be so entertained that all they will feel and hear is the music. By the time the show ends, audiences won’t even realize that it all passed without even the slightest break for conversation. That is how loudly and how solidly the talents of both Beck and his band mates spoke throughout this concert. It truly says something about an entertainer when he or she doesn’t need to rely on such extra in order to entertain audiences and fill time at the same time. Considering this, it is one more way in which Jeff Beck proves that now in his 70s, he is only coming into his prime and yet is justifiably considered one of the greatest of the masters in the music industry. Together with all of the aforementioned aspects of this concert, audiences will see with crystal clear vision just why Jeff Beck is one of the greatest in his business. It also shows why Eagle Rock is the greatest in its business.

Jeff Beck has made quite the name for himself over the course of his decades-long career. That career includes time with other greats and with those that are perhaps not so well-known. Through it all, Beck has persevered and risen throughout those decades to become today one of the true masters of the music industry. Whether it be through his stage presence, his very display of talent, or his knowledge of and respect for the history of music, Jeff Beck shows throughout Live in Tokyo without a doubt why he is a master musician. Audiences will agree with this sentiment when they purchase this concert for themselves on DVD and Blu-ray. It is available in stores and online now. More information on this and other recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:



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May & Ellis’ Candlelight Concerts Recording Another Huge Hit For Eagle Rock

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Eagle Records

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Eagle Records

Eagle Rock Entertainment and its visual division, Eagle Vision, have been at the front of the line in live recordings in recent years thanks to releasing so many big, bombastic concerts on DVD and Blu-ray. So it goes without saying that Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts is quite the departure for Eagle Rock and Eagle Vision. That’s not a bad thing, either. While it features Queen guitarist Brian May alongside one of the most powerful voices in Broadway’s modern history, the references to Queen are kept to a minimum throughout the course of the concert. That is the most important factor in what makes this latest release from Eagle Rock and Eagle Vision so worth the time. Another reason that audiences will appreciate this new recording is its audio and video mix. The high quality video and audio mix (both on the Blu-ray and CD) maintain Eagle Rock and Eagle Vision’s long-held standard of releasing only the best quality concerts to audiences. And making everything complete for this latest recording is its packaging. Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts has been made available to consumers in a double-disc Blu-ray/CD combo pack in a single package. This allows audiences to take in the performance in whole without having to choose which one they would want more. It may be a slightly higher price. But in the long-term, it’s more cost effective for those wanting the full concert experience. All of the factors noted here make Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts yet another huge success from the leader in live recordings.

Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts is not a Queen concert. That’s not to say that there are no Queen songs featured throughout the course of the set’s CD and Blu-ray. As a matter of fact, some of Queen’s biggest hits including ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Somebody To Love’, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young)’ are part of the performance. But by and large, this performance features covers of other songs, and even a couple original tunes. One of the most powerful of the performance’s moments comes in Ellis’ cover of ‘The Way We Were.’ The song, made popular by singer/actress Barbara Streisand in the 1973 movie by the same name. As Ellis notes before performing her take on the song, it’s more commonly performed with a full orchestral backing, even in the movie’s soundtrack. It gains a whole new identity in this completely stripped down setting. On the other end of the spectrum, May and Ellis presented a stripped down song in ‘The Kissing Me Song’ that absolutely cries out for a full band setting. Any drummers and percussionists out there will agree with this drummer that there is a stunning polyrhythmic drum track just waiting to come out in this piece. One can even hear a tambourine part echoing in the background. Making the song even more interesting is that it is an original piece, instead of a cover. It would be interesting to see if the pair ever re-works the tune for a full band setting. Moving on, there is at least one more high point in this performance in terms of the show’s set list that audiences will appreciate. That last high point is the duo’s take on ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love.’ Despite being in a stripped down setting, it is just as enjoyable in this setting as on record. And experiencing the audience’s enthusiastic reaction to the song makes it all the more enjoyable for viewers watching it in their homes. It has just as much energy here as in any other setting. As enjoyable as this moment is, it isn’t the last of the show’s many high points. There are plenty more moments from which audiences will get to choose when they purchase or order the combo pack for themselves.

The set list chosen for this penultimate performance of May and Ellis’ “By Candlelight Tour” is central to the enjoyment of this recording. Those hoping for a stripped down Queen set will be sadly disappointed since it isn’t a Queen set. For those more open-minded, they will deeply appreciate the variety of songs included in the show. The songs would be nothing without the expert work of those behind the cameras and soundboard. Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision have maintained a high standard for their live recordings for some time. And this recording is no exception to that rule. The picture and sound are both crystal clear. And the angles used in the camera work expertly capture the emotion of both performers in the rather intimate setting. It adds so much depth to the overall presentation, making it even more worth checking out.

The set list and overall production values of Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts are both pivotal elements to the overall presentation of this recording. Both go hand in hand in making the whole thing worth the time and money. There is still at least one more element worth noting about this set. That aspect is the recording’s packaging itself. Eagle Rock, Eagle Vision, and Eagle Records have come together to make the set available to the masses not as separate release, but as one entire package. On the surface, this might drive up the price of the set a bit. But in the long run, it actually saves money and the time trying to decide which is more important. Eagle Rock is actually serving its customers by combining the CD and Blu-ray into a full double-disc set. What’s more, each of the two discs gets its own spot on either side of the Blu-ray’s case. That saves space and in turn, helps to keep the cost of the set down. And that combined with the show’s outstanding production values, and equally outstanding set list makes it one more huge success from the company that more than deserves the title of being the leader in live recordings.

Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online via Amazon at More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment, Eagle Vision, and Eagle Records is available online at and To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

The Love We Make makes for a great documentary

Music, it’s said, is the universal language.  It’s been said that it has the power to unite people of every background from every corner of the world.  In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, that adage never proved truer than with the Concert for New York.  And in Paul McCartney’s recently released dvd, The Love We Make, audiences get a glimpse into everything that led up to the concert.  Needless to say, The Love We Make is not a concert dvd.  It’s a documentary.  And anyone who is left dry-eyed by the end of this work is either not human, or simply has no emotion.

One of the most intriguing aspects of The Love We Make is how it portrays McCartney.  Generally in music documentaries, audiences just see the artists as artists.  But with this documentary, audiences see another side of McCartney.  They see Paul McCartney the person equally balanced with Paul McCartney the artist.  It shows how much performing for the people of New York meant for him, in the wake of that tragic day.  He tells the story during the documentary that his decision to headline the concert was influenced by his father.  He explains that his father was a firefighter in WWII, and seeing what happened on September 11th reminded him of how important it was to honor those men and women who give of themselves every day.

McCartney’s story about his father has a lasting impact throughout the documentary.  Audiences get to see his human side as he signs autographs for people, and talks to them about what had happened.  What it serves to do is show that while yes, he’s a celebrity, he’s still a normal average person.  He’s someone who wanted to help, even if it means having to appear on Howard Stern.  Speaking of Stern, his reaction to Stern’s showing at the concert only added to his humanity.  Along with seeing his humanity, viewers see someone who is a true musician.  Again, yes he’s a celebraity.  But the documentary shows him as someone who is more about the music and the people than about the celebrity status.  It makes the 94-minute run time seem to pass by without effort from either the director or audience.

It’s been just over ten years since what is now considered this generation’s Pearl Harbor.  Since that time, some people have forgotten the sense of togetherness and community that was felt across the country at that concert.  People from every walk of life came together for a singular reason, and a single night to honor those men and women who lost their lives on one of this nation’s darkest days.  But thanks to The Love We Make, hopefully those who might have forgotten that feeling will remember it anew after watching this outstanding film.