LTE’s Latest LP Is The Latest Contender For The Top Spot Among 2021’s Best New Rock Albums

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

More than two decades after the release of its then most recent album, prog rock super group Liquid Tension Experiment officially returned Friday.  The band – Mike Portnoy (drums), Jordan Rudess (keyboards), John Petrucci  (guitar) Tony Levin (bass) – released its new aptly titled album Liquid Tension Experiment 3 Friday through InsideOut Music.  The eight-song instrumental album spawned three singles ahead of its release.  Those songs are but a glimpse into the album, too.  The 61-minute presentation offers hints of the band’s existing catalog and something in another direction throughout, too.  ‘Beating The Odds is just one of the songs featured in the recording that shows a new creative direction from the band in its latest outing.  It will be discussed shortly.  The band’s updated take on famed composer George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is another change in direction for the band in this outing.  It will be discussed a little later.  Showing even more, the change in direction in this record is ‘Chris and Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey,’ which comes just past the record’s midpoint.  It will also be discussed later.  Each note song proves the album’s growth, and in turn, engagement and entertainment.  When they are considered along with songs, such as ‘Shades of Hope,’ ‘Hypersonic,’ ‘The Passage of Time,’ and the album’s two remaining songs, the whole makes the album in whole a work that is a welcome return for Liquid Tension Experiment and that is among the best of this year’s new rock albums.

Liquid Tension Experiment’s latest album, Liquid Tension Experiment 3, is a presentation that will appeal to the band’s established audience base.  In the same note it will appeal to fans of the band’s members and their primary projects just as much.  That is due in large part to the songs featured in this recording.  The songs in question show evidence of songs from the band’s existing catalog as well as works that show some growth from the band.  One of the most notable of the songs that exhibits that growth comes in the form of ‘Beating The Odds.’  The six-minute-plus composition is not the wildly energetic style composition that audiences have come to know from the band.  Rather, it combines a variety of tones and influences, beginning with a very Rush style guitar intro to open the song.  From there, listeners can hear distinct influence from Dream Theater’s early days prior to Portnoy’s departure from the band.  At the same time, there is also a hint of Spock’s Beard influence through the combination of Rudess’ work on keyboards and Petrucci’s guitar performance.  At times the influences remain separate, and at others join together for one unique whole.  Through it all, the balance in the influences is handled expertly, a tribute to the record’s production.  The end result of that controlled chaos is a work that brings out the best of the bands that have influenced this band’s members in one complete work that boasts its own standout identity as a prog-rock opus.

‘Beating The Odds’ is just one of the songs that serves to exhibit the growth from Liquid Tension Experiment in its latest album.  The band’s updated take on George Gershwin’s timeless jazz classic, ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is another clear example of the successful change in the band’s new album.  It is a complete change of pace for the band, taking on a jazz classic instead of any rock composition.  Gershwin’s original composition is present here.  There is no denial of that fact.  At the same, the song gets a nice change of pace in this rendition.  Petrucci’s subtle guitar opening mimics the piano line that opens the original so well.  The addition of the synthesized string arrangement at points throughout is a nice tribute to the original in its own right.  It actually does well to sound like the real thing, even being synthesized.  What’s more, the Joe Satriani-style approach that Petrucci takes along with his own style as the song progresses adds even more to the approach.  Much the same can be said of Rudess’ keyboard performance throughout, and that of Portnoy.  The whole of the group’s work here is such a rich presentation.  It is a dramatic change of pace for the band this time out and such a successful risk.  It is just one more example of what makes the album so successful.  ‘Chris and Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey’ — which comes in the record’s second half — is yet another example of the album’s strength.

‘Chris and Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey’ is notable because it is so starkly unlike anything that these musicians have ever crafted collectively and with their primary acts.  The whole thing starts off with Levin using what sounds like a bow on his bass, as if it was a standup bass.  Portnoy’s accents on the toms sound random, but are in fact complimentary to Levin’s work.  The subtle addition of the occasional keyboard effect makes for its own unique touch here.  The whole experimental work immediately comes across as a distinctly avant-garde type composition, yet is still so engaging because of that experimental, free form type composition.  It is another wonderful example of how much the band has branched out this time out and how that willingness to try something new has paid off.  When it is considered with the other two songs examined here and the more familiar sound exhibited through other songs featured here, such as ‘Shades of Hope,’ ‘Hypersonic,’ ‘The Passage of Time,’ and the album’s two remaining songs,  the whole of all of that content makes the album in whole a welcome return for Liquid Tension Experiment and an equally impressive new addition to this year’s list of top new rock records.

Liquid Tension Experiment’s first new album in more than two decades and first since the release of Spontaneous Combustion – released in 2007 (almost 15 years ago) by three quarters of LTE under the moniker of Liquid Tension Trio – is an impressive new offering from these  musical mates.  It proves that from start to finish with a solid combination of familiar content and plenty of material that takes chances and takes the band in new directions.  Those newer songs are all examined here.  When they are considered with the rest of the album’s works, the whole makes LTE 3 a work that every prog-rock fan will welcome.  It is proof positive that good things really do come to those who wait.  LTE 3 is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at  

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Bigelf Releases Cover Art, Track Listing For InsideOut Debut

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Veteran L.A. based stoner rock band Bigelf will release its latest release this Spring.  Into The Maelstrom will be available in stores and online Tuesday, April 1st via InsideOut Music.  The band’s new album will be the first for Bigelf on InsideOut.  It will also be the first record for drummer Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater) with the band.

Into The Maelstrom will be available in a double-disc digipak and on a double-disc gatefold vinyl release.  The double-disc digipak will feature both the album and a handful of re-mixes and demos from the band.  The gatefold vinyl will feature the entire album as presented on CD.  The album’s track listing is as follows:

  1. Incredible Time Machine
  2. Hypersleep
  3. Already Gone
  4. Alien Frequency
  5. The Professor & The Madman
  6. Mr. Harry McQuhae
  7. Vertigod
  8. Control Freak
  9. High
  10. Edge of Oblivion
  11. Theater of Dreams
  12. ITM: I. Destination Unknown / II. Harbinger Of Death / III. Memories

Founding member Damon Fox explained in an interview what audiences can expect from the bands upcoming InsideOut debut.  “I think ITM is the best Bigelf record yet,” he said. “And I believe it is a real game changer for the band. It’s gonna put us over the top! Psychedelic cinematic landscapes and melodic prog-doom set the stage for the new album, I cannot wait for fans (old and new) to experience all of its apocalyptic color.”

Bigelf will be part of this year’s Progressive Nation At Sea cruise.  The cruise sets sail February 18th and returns to port February 22nd.  It will also feature performances by Transatlantic–another band with whom Portnoy plays—Devin Townsend Project, Riverside & Adrian Belew Power Trio.  Tickets for the Progressive Nation At Sea Cruise are available on the cruise’s official website,  Audiences can also go to the cruise’s website to get a complete list of performers and all of the latest information on the cruise.

More information on Bigelf, its upcoming new release, tour dates and more is available online at, and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Concert For Ronnie Montrose Is As Good As Any Major Label’s Live Recordings

Courtesy:  RoMoCo

Courtesy: RoMoCo

2013 has seen quite the surplus of live concert recordings.  Bands the likes of Jane’s Addiction, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and so many others have been released to the masses.  Each of those live recordings has proven to be exceptional in its own way.  These recordings will be seen by countless audiences thanks to being released via some of the music industry’s biggest labels. It doesn’t mean that they’re the only live recordings to hit the market this year.  One independently recorded and released live concert event that deserves just as much coverage as those aforementioned recordings is the Concert for Ronnie Montrose.  Recorded April 27th, 2012 at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, California, this live concert event will impress anyone that is a fan of true, pure, guitar-driven rock and roll.  This applies to even those that might not be so familiar with the work of Ronnie Montrose.  There is much to like about this new live recording.  The most obvious of factors is the concert’s audio and video mix.  For a show that was independently recorded and released, it looks and sounds surprisingly good.  The show’s set list and guest lineup collectively make up another of the reasons to check out this concert.  And while it is something relatively subtle, those charged with finalizing the concert included names and titles for each artist on each song.  For those that might be unfamiliar with the artists, this inclusion will help to introduce the artists to said new audiences when they look up each name.  In turn, it could open audiences’ eyes and ears to a whole new world of music.  Together with the aforementioned factors, the Concert For Ronnie Montrose proves to be just as enjoyable as any live recording released by the industry’s major labels.

The Concert for Ronnie Montrose is an independently recorded and released live concert event.  The automatic thought that might be raised in some audiences’ minds upon reading this is that it probably doesn’t match up with the live recordings released by the record industry’s major labels.  That belief could not be any more wrong.  The reality of this concert recording is that it looks and sounds just as good as any of the countless other live recordings released on said labels already in 2013. The camera crews charged with capturing the concert expertly carried out their duties.  Home viewers get the best seat in the house.  They are taken right on stage with the musicians and even above the crowd to see the full extent of the audience in attendance.  Seeing how packed the house was on the night of April 27th, 2012 just goes to show that while Ronnie Montrose might never have been one of the biggest names in the industry, he was and still is one of the most respected individuals to pick up a guitar. It is truly a telling statement, and one that any Ronnie Montrose fan will appreciate when they watch this concert for themselves.

The Concert for Ronnie Montrose was captured just as expertly on video as any live recording released via the industry’s major labels.  It is crystal clear.  And the camera work itself is just as impressive.  Having examined the recording’s high-quality video, the next logical step is to examine its audio mix.  Having been recorded in the semi-intimate setting of San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom, it goes without saying that it was extremely important that the audio be perfect.  Those that are more familiar with the science of acoustics will appreciate the painstaking efforts taken to ensure that the concert’s sound was on par with any major live recording.     Not one of the guitarists overpowered the other at any point throughout the evening.  And none of the musicians overpowered their fellow guest vocalists, either.  That set alongside the equally top notch camera work and video editing serve as the foundation for a concert recording that proves in the long run to be just as good as any of the year’s major concert recordings.

The audio and video mixes in the Concert for Ronnie Montrose collectively make for a solid foundation for this recording.  Having examined both, the next logical step in examining the presentation is to look at the collective set list and the guest lineup.  The set list that comprises this tribute concert spans the late guitarist’s rich career before his passing.  From his days with the Edgar Winter Group to his work with the band that bore his name to his solo career, this concert is front loaded with more than its share of great music.  Even audiences that might perhaps be less familiar with Montrose’s work will likely recognize the Edgar Winter Group’s hit songs ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Free Ride’ and the cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Connection.’  What’s more, those that might be fans of Dream Theater will hear quite the similarity between the concert’s opener, ‘Overture’ and certain work by Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci on the first of Liquid Tension Experiment’s two records.  Petrucci wasn’t one of the artists on hand at the Concert for Ronnie Montrose.  However, some equally big names were in attendance. And their presence is sure to impress audiences just as much as the show’s set list.

The lineup of artists on hand to pay tribute to Ronnie Montrose is just as eye-opening as the show’s set list.  Classic rock fans will recognize former Journey band mates Steve Smith and Neal Schon and Tesla front man Jeff Keith.  Also on hand were two equally big names in the form of Montrose’s former band mate and friend Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen, Chickenfoot) and world renowned guitarist Joe Satriani (Chickenfoot).  Hagar and Montrose’s fellow former band mates were on hand for the concert, too.  Anyone that was a fan of the band in its heyday will appreciate seeing its members back together if only for a one off show.  If the set list that makes up the show isn’t enough for audiences, then this megastar lineup of artists is certain to convince audiences to check out this recording.

So much has already been noted as to what makes the Concert for Ronnie Montrose such a joy of a live recording, even having been recorded and released independently.  There is still one factor in the recording to examine.  It is a subtle, yet important factor to examine.  It is the inclusion of what is called “supers” (or superimposed images) highlighting the names and titles of each musician to take the stage throughout the concert.  Their inclusion is important for those that might happen to be new to each musician.  The names and titles are placed right in front of each musician.  This allows audiences to directly link a name with a face.  Audiences that are less familiar with said artists can in turn link the names and faces when looking up information on each one online or otherwise.  The latent effect of all of this is the potential introduction of a whole new world of music to new audiences.  For that alone, those charged with making sure the supers matched with each artist deserve their own round of applause.  And together with the camera crews, sound editors, and performers themselves, it all comes together to make the Concert for Ronnie Montrose a concert that any purist rock and roll fan will appreciate no less with each watch.  It is available now and can be ordered online at  More information on this and all things Ronnie Montrose is available via the official Ronnie Montrose website,  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