Panton’s 2015 Re-Issue Shows Big Things Can And Do Come In “Little” Packages

Courtesy:  eOne

Courtesy: eOne

As each day passes this month, Phil’s Picks is presenting its annual “Best of” lists.  That mass of lists launched yesterday with the year’s top new EPs.  Today, we move from EPs to albums.  Today’s list doesn’t focus on new albums, but album re-issues.  Make no bones about it, every year, hundreds of albums are re-issued both on CD and vinyl (as well as digital platforms).  So they are just as valid as being considered in any critic’s year-end lists as anything else.  Keeping that in mind, today Phil’s Picks is offering its list of the year’s Top 10 New CD Re-Issues.  This year’s list is topped by Diana Panton’s 2015 album I Believe in Small Things.  Also included in this year’s list of top re-issues are titles from Rich Robinson, Black Sabbath, Pain of Salvation and others.

As always, the list includes both the Top 10 records and five extra honorable mention titles for a total of 15 records.  Keeping that in mind, here for your consideration are the Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 CD Re-Issues

 

1) Diana Panton – I Believe In Small Things

 

2) Rich Robinson – Woodstock Sessions Volume 3

 

3) Rich Robinson – Through A Crooked Sun

 

4) Rich Robinson – Llama Blues

 

5) Allen Stone – Radius

 

6) Junkstars – This Means War

 

7) Faith No More – Album of the Year

 

8) Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

 

9) Black Sabbath – Paranoid

 

10) Black Sabbath – Master of Reality

 

11) Pain of Salvation – Remedy Lane: Revisited, Re-Mixed and Re-Lived

 

12) American Hi-Fi – American Hi-Fi

 

13) Michael Jackson – Off The Wall

 

14) Pete Seeger – Pete

 

15) Shooter Jennings & Hierophant – Black Ribbons

 

 

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Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest Is A Great Treat For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Discovery Family

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Discovery Family

Labor Day has come and gone once again. The weather is beginning to turn for much of the country and has already turned for others. That means it won’t be long before Halloween is upon us once again. Even store shelves across the country are becoming filled with the annual bevy of Halloween fare. This includes the annual crop of Halloween DVDs and Blu-rays. The thing about Halloween is that it seems to produce the least amount of holiday programming in comparison to that of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Shout! Factory however is looking to help change that as it released yet another new Halloween DVD earlier this month in the form of the new Littlest Pet Shop DVD Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest. This latest addition to the show’s already extensive series of DVDs is yet another welcome addition to any family’s home DVD library and yet another breath of fresh air among the annual holiday fare. The main way in which it proves itself such an enjoyable new set of episodes is the writing behind each of its episodes. While Littlest Pet Shop has always been aimed largely at younger female viewers, the writing in the featured episodes is such that the whole family will enjoy each episode. That will be discussed at more length shortly. The work of the show’s voice cast is just as entertaining as the work of the series’ writers once again. Last but hardly least worth noting to this DVD’s positives is the inclusion of a pumpkin stencil exclusive to the DVD. With many stores and farms already stocking their annual supply of pumpkins, the stencil is a great addition for any family in deciding what design to use for their jack-o-lantern this year or any year. Each noted element by itself proves its own value to the whole of Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest. Collectively they show the DVD in whole to be a collection that is just as enjoyable in the realm of Littlest Pet Shop compilations as it is in the realm of new holiday DVD fare.

Halloween is one of the slimmest times of the year when it comes to new DVD and Blu-ray offerings. Why that seems to be the case is anyone’s guess. Regardless each year there are some new releases among those slim pickings of new releases. The problem is that among those few new offerings, even fewer can truly be said to be worth the watch. Shout! Factory has one of those few fully worthwhile offerings once again in the form of the new Littlest Pet Shop collection Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest. The main way in which it proves this is in its writing. At the center of the writing’s success is the script for each of its five episodes. All five episodes featured in this collection feature their own frightfully fun stories that are fitting for the whole family (say that one five times fast). It all kicks off with the absolute laugh riot “Door-Jammed.” This episode sees Blythe’s animal friends believing that each one is a monster after having watched a movie about a werewolf. Meanwhile Mrs. Twombley sets out to claim a doorknob (yes, a doorknob) away from her arch-nemesis Mr. Biskit. The LPS pals meet a new eight-legged friend in the collection’s second episode “Eight Arms To Hold You.” This episode is a good fit for the collection thanks to the execution of its story. As the story progresses, it is believed that the octopus is actually a monster. That’s because the new pal was kept in the shadows much in the vein of so many classic monster movies. And that will be discussed shortly as it is another element of the episodes’ writing that makes these episodes so enjoyable. As if the stories already noted aren’t enough to convince families, there is an equally enjoyable story in “War of the Weirds” the third of the DVD’s five episodes. The very title is itself a tribute to the classic sci-fi flick War of the Worlds. The episode itself will have viewers laughing till their sides hurt as the LPS pals become afraid that aliens are invading. There is an interesting twist at the episode’s end that makes for just as many laughs. On another level, the episode makes great reference to one of the funniest stereotypes of the alien conspiracy theory culture out there today. That is yet another more minute detail of the episodes’ writing that makes them so enjoyable, which will also be discussed shortly. Getting back on the subject at hand, all three of the stories noted here are in their own right prime examples of how the writing behind this collection’s episodes makes them so enjoyable. That is hardly to take away from the remaining pair of episodes–“Pawlm Reading” and “The very Littlest Pet Shop.” Both episodes make for their own share of enjoyment, too. All five episodes considered together make Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest well worth the watch within themselves. They are just part of the writing that makes this collection so enjoyable, too. There are smaller details within each episode that make each one even more enjoyable and the collection in whole that much more enjoyable.

The stories presented within each of the episodes featured in Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest give viewers plenty of reason to pick up this new collection of Littlest Pet Shop episodes. They are only part of what makes the writing so enjoyable within each episode. The smaller details included within each episode’s script adds even more enjoyment to the whole of the DVD. One example of how the episodes’ more minor details make the writing even more enjoyable comes in the set’s lead episode “Door-Jammed.” The writers make direct reference to the hit Hobbit movie franchise as well as Michael Jackson’s famed Thriller video complete with narration just as the actual video had courtesy of Vincent Price. The manner in which the writers kept the octopus in the shadows through much of “Eight Arms To Hold You” is very much in the vein of Hollywood’s classic monster movies. Those movies would build tension by not revealing the monsters until late in the movies’ run. One could even argue that the use of an octopus is in itself a direct throwback to the classic 1955 sci-fi/horror hybrid It Came From Beneath The Sea. In “War of the Weirds” the writers pay homage to the classic 1953 sci-fi flick War of the Worlds. There is also a hilarious reference to the stereotype of conspiracy theorists using tin foil hats to keep the invasion forces from controlling their minds. And just as interesting in this episode is the playful jab at the stores that employ people to stand on street corners and spin signs while dancing in order to get attention. These are just a handful of examples of how the more minor details of the episodes’ writing makes them so enjoyable for audiences of all ages. There is just as much that could be noted from “Pawlm Reading” and “The Very Littlest Pet Shop,” which in itself throws back to the likes of 1957’s The Incredible Shrinking Man. The ultimate reveal in this episode won’t be given away here for the sake of those that haven’t seen this episode (or any of the set’s others). But it is a timeless plot element that has been used time and again in so many other TV series and movies. Whether for that element, for any of the other minor details of the writing or for the stories themselves, it should be fully clear by now why exactly the writing behind the episodes featured in Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest is so important to its overall success and enjoyment. All things combined, the writing makes each of the set’s five episodes enjoyable not just for its target younger female viewers but for the whole family. Having noted this, there is still plenty more to note in regards to the enjoyment of Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest including the work of the series’ cast.

The work of the writers behind Littlest Pet Shop has clearly paid off in spades in this collection of episodes. All five featured episodes include something that at least one member of any family will appreciate if not the whole family. This includes both the episodes’ stories and the more minor details of each episode. For all of the enjoyment generated through each of the episodes’ writing, the work of the show’s voice cast makes for just as much enjoyment. Lead voice actress Ashleigh Ball (Johnny Test, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures) is just as solid as ever in her portrayal of Blythe Baxter throughout each episode. One instance in which this is clear comes when she is trapped in a bathroom with one of the Biskit twins at the Biskits’ mansion. Not once here does she try to ham it up as Blythe connects with said girl. Even at other points in which Blythe takes a back seat to her cast mates, Ball is just as entertaining. Viewers can really feel the respect that she has for her cast mates in those moments, which are themselves included in this collection. Peter New’s (Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Agent Cody Banks, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) work as the voice of Sunil Nevla is another of the high points of the cast’s voice work in this collection. New maintains his place as the comedian of the cast as he brings Sunil to life, spewing out conspiracy theories and coming up with all kinds of outlandish thoughts. One can’t help but wonder in listening to New’s delivery just how much of his work was ad-libbed and how much was actually in the scripts. Even if he did stick to the episode’s scripts, his timing was still impeccable, making for so many laughs in the long-term. Supporting actress Kathleen Barr (Reboot, Kid vs. Cat, Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog) is just as impressive as the voice of Mrs. Twombley. Her delivery as she searches for and finds the doorknob she bid on in “Door-Jammed” will have both those familiar with the hugely successful Hobbitt series and those more familiar with Littlest Pet Shop laughing just as much as the other. While Barr, New, and Ball each add their own enjoyment to these episodes, their work is not the only entertaining work featured throughout the set. Each of the cast members could just as easily be noted for their work, too. Altogether, the work of the show’s voice cast plays just as important of a role in the enjoyment of Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest as the work of the show’s writers. The writers and cast together make each episode well worth the watch each time as the days close in on Halloween. Together, they make even clearer why this collection is such a breath of fresh air among this year’s holiday offerings. While both elements do plenty to show why this collection is so enjoyable, they still are not all that make it a wonderful new addition for families. The inclusion of a free bonus pumpkin stencil rounds out the ways in which the DVD proves itself so enjoyable.

The work of both the writers and the cast within each episode featured in Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Fest shows clearly why this new DVD is a breath of fresh air among the otherwise stagnant collection of holiday offerings on store shelves each year. For all of their collective importance in the bigger picture of the DVD, there is still one more element that makes the presentation whole here. That element is the bonus pumpkin stencil included inside the case. Now that fall is here, stores and farms are all beginning to pull out their annual stock of pumpkins for people to carve up and put on their porches. The stencil included in this DVD gives a great idea for fans of Littlest Pet Shop. The main reason that it is such a great addition is that it gives young Halloween lovers and fans of the show a starting point for their own original jack-o-lantern design. It also serves as another great opportunity for parents and children to do something together to get into the Halloween spirit all while celebrating younger viewers’ love of Littlest Pet Shop. Simply put it’s a double whammy for the whole family (hey, it rhymes). It gives the carver (whether it be adult or child) a clear explanation of where to and where not to cut their pumpkins. So it’s also user-friendly so to speak. Considering all of this, the bonus pumpkin stencil included in Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios’ new Littlest Pet Shop DVD is just as much reason to pick up this new DVD as the work of the show’s writers and cast. All three elements together make this DVD a breath of fresh air among this year’s crop of holiday DVD and Blu-ray offerings.

Littlest Pet Shop: Halloween Adventures is not the only new offering among this year’s crop of new holiday offerings. However, it is only one of very few new offerings for Halloween. Considering all that it has to offer in regards to its writing, acting, and its bonus material of sorts, it is one of the best of this year’s holiday offerings. It is a breath of fresh air among that small handful of new offerings for the whole family. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-animation/littlest-pet-shop-halloween-fest. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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.

Motown 25 Is A Musical Diamond In The Rough

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Television in America possesses a rich history in its modern era.  The moon landing, JFK’s assassination, The Korean and Vietnam wars, presidential elections, 9/11 and so many other events fill the history of television in its modern era.  While it would seem that many of the most important events broadcast on television in its modern history are memorable because they are tragic, there are positive events recorded in television’s modern history, too.  Some of the most memorable of those more positive events are concerts that have brought people together from all walks of life.  Live Aid, The Concert For New York, and the Beatles’ first ever live performance on American television each make the list of television’s top live broadcast draws.  Next Tuesday, September 30th, Time Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment will add another concert to that list of television’s greatest live concerts when they release Motown 25YesterdayTodayForever.  Motown 25: YesterdayTodayForever was originally broadcast on NBC on May 16th, 1983.  This new three-disc DVD presentation marks the first time since its original VHS release in 1983 that the concert has seen the light of day.  Being that this is the first time in just over three decades that it has been released to the public, this edition of Motown 25Yesterday– Today.-Forever is well worth the price and the watch.  The central reason for that is the sheer magnitude of material included in the overall presentation.  Audiences don’t just get the original broadcast.  They get to hear from the concert’s original heads and some of the artists that performed on that night.  Audiences also get a brief yet still insightful history on the famed “Hitsville USA” as a bonus.  Another reason that audiences will enjoy this recording is the overall audio and video mix.  The painstaking efforts undertaken by those charged with restoring the concert’s footage paid off in spades.  Both the audio and video presented here sound and look just as good as the concert’s original broadcast if not better.  Completing the set is its companion booklet.  The booklet includes a brief yet thorough history on the concert and its lasting impact by author Nelson George and Motown 25 EP Suzanne De Passe.  Also included in the companion booklet is a complete guide to the concert’s lineup and bonus material along with full credits listing those behind the show.  The booklet is the final touch to a package that any old school r&b fan and lover of music and music history will appreciate.

Motown 25YesterdayTodayForever is one of the most enjoyable live recorded concerts in the modern history of television.  As enjoyable as it proves to be even today, it sadly is not one that most people think of when they think of major broadcast concerts.  That view will hopefully change though, after watching this presentation.  The amount of material included in this three-disc set alone is more than enough reason for viewers to change their view of Motown 25YesterdayTodayForever.  That vast amount of material includes not just the original concert recording, but a number of bonuses to go along with it.  Those bonuses include roundtable interviews with both the show’s heads and some of the performers, a brief but still thorough history of Hitsville, USA, and even an in-depth look at the very creation of the concert from pre-production to the finished product.  Audiences will be moved to hear the emotion as the show’s heads discuss their favorite memories from the concert.  There are plenty of laughs along the way.  And there are some tears, too.  The history lesson on Hitsville, USA is especially enjoyable for those that might not be so familiar with the history of the label that started it all for so many legends.  And the insight into the concert’s creation will interest anyone with any interest in television production.  Collectively, those bonuses along with the concert itself more than make Motown 25YesterdayTodayForever worth the watch whether one is a lover of old school lover of r&B, a music lover in general or even an individual with a love for music history.  And it is just part of what makes the collection worth the watch, too.  There is far more worth nothing that audiences will appreciate and enjoy just as much.  Another aspect worth noting is the overall quality of the concert’s footage (I.E. its audio and video mix).

The vast amount of material that makes up the body of Motown 25 is by itself more than enough reason for every lover of music.  It is just one part of the whole that makes the viewing experience a joy for audiences within this presentation.  The presentation’s collective audio and video mix adds to the presentation’s enjoyment.  StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment included a disclaimer before Motown 25’s central concert presentation begins stating the footage may have some minor discrepancies at various points throughout the concert.  But audiences will see that if there are any such discrepancies, they are too minute to see with the naked eye.  Those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation in this set are to be commended for their painstaking efforts as they paid off in spades.  That applies both to the audio and video mix.  Every note comes through crystal clear as does every single camera shot.  Again, kudos go out to those responsible for bringing the footage back to life as it most definitely looks and sounds as good as it must have in its original broadcast.

The work that went into restoring the footage from the Motown 25 concert and the amount of material included in the new upcoming box set collectively makes it such an enjoyable experience for anyone that has any love for the classics and for music history in general.  As enjoyable as they make the experience together, the people at Star Vista and Time Life didn’t stop there.  They also included a companion booklet with the set that adds even more depth to the presentation.  The companion booklet included with this three-disc set features its own look back at the Motown 25 concert from the show’s EP, Suzanne De Passe as well as one from author Nelson George, who wrote The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Dance and Style.  Their shared insights offer a look at the concert that echoes the sentiments shared in the round table discussions that were included as bonus features.  Along with the additional insight and background on the concert, the set’s companion booklet also includes a complete song-by-song guide to the concert and bonus features.  And closing it out is a full listing of the names of those responsible for both the original concert and its re-working for its presentation here.  It finishes off a set that is arguably one more of this year’s best new archived live recordings.

Motown 25: YesterdayTodayForever is a diamond in the rough. With its full concert experience, bonus interviews and retrospective roundtable discussions, it offers audiences a concert experience unlike most others released so far this year.  The painstaking efforts on the part of those charged with re-mastering the concert’s original footage make the concert even more enjoyable for audiences.  And the bonus booklet added as a companion to the concert adds even more depth and insight to the show and its importance to the history of both r&b and the music world in whole.  All three factors together make Motown 25: YesterdayTodayForever one of this year’s best new archived live recordings and one that every lover of music will enjoy.  It will be available next Tuesday, September 30th and can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Motown-25-Yesterday-Today-Forever/dp/B00L9OPA56/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1411671053&sr=1-1&keywords=motown+25th+anniversary+television+special.  A special limited edition six-disc set and an expanded limited edition six-DVD/eight-CD set online via the Time Life online store at http://timelife.com/products/motown-25-yesterday-today-forever.  More information on these and other releases from Time Life and StarVista is available online at

Website: http://timelife.com

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

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.

Up-And-Coming Guitarist To Tour With Malmstein

Rising guitar star Ethan Brosh will hit the road this spring and summer with veteran guitarist and virtuoso musician Yngwie Malmstein.  The tour, which is in support of his upcoming sophomore full length studio release, will span twenty-five cities across the U.S. and Canada.  Brosh’s upcoming album is titled Live The Dream.  Bassist Dave Ellefson joins Brosh on this new release.  Ellefson isn’t the only huge name to have a hand on Bosh’s latest record.  Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth) mixed the record, and Bob Ludwig (Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden) mastered it.  Joe Petagno (Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd) crafted the album’s artwork.

Brosh’s debut album, 2009’s Out of Oblivion featured its own roster of who’s who in rock. Mike Mangini (Dream Theater, Extreme, Steve Vai) covered the drums for the record.  Mangini was just one of the big name musicians to make a guest appearance on Out of Oblivion.  He was joined by George Lynch (Dokken) and Greg Howe (Michael Jackson).  Derek Riggs (Iron Maiden) created the artwork for the album, while Chris Tsangarides (Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne) ran the boards.

Brosh has obviously made quite the name for himself as a solo artist.  And while he has done so, he doesn’t rest on his laurels as he also performs with another group called Burning Heart.  Burning heart will join the Yngwie tour on its second leg.  The tour will mark the first ever national tour for the band. 

A current list of tour dates is available below.  And for the latest tour updates and all the latest news from Ethan Brosh, fans go “Like” him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ethan-Brosh/88968151778.  Fans can also get the latest from Ethan Brosh online at http://www.ethanbrosh.com, http://www.myspace.com/ethanbrosh, and http://twitter.com/ethanbrosh.  Audiences can also check out Ethan’s music via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/ethanbrosh.

04/24/13        CLEVELAND, OH           HOUSE OF BLUES
04/25/13        DETROIT, MI                             ST. ANDREW’S HALL
04/26/13        TORONTO, ON                     PHOENIX THEATRE
04/27/13        HARTFORD, CT                    THE WEBSTER THEATER
04/28/13        MUNHALL, PA                     CARNEGIE LIBRARY MUSIC HALL OF HOMESTEAD
04/29/13        BOSTON, MA                      THE WILBUR THEATRE
04/30/13        NEW YORK, NY                    IRVING PLAZA
05/03/13        MEMPHIS, TN                     TOM LEE PARK – BEALE STREET MUSIC FESTIVAL
05/04/13        CHICAGO, IL                     HOUSE OF BLUES
05/05/13        ST. CHARLES, IL                 THE ARCADA THEATRE
05/07/13        DENVER, CO                      THE SUMMIT MUSIC HALL
05/09/13        ANAHEIM, CA                     HOUSE OF BLUES
05/10/13        W. HOLLYWOOD, CA                HOUSE OF BLUES
05/11/13        FRESNO, CA                      TOWER THEATRE
05/12/13        VENTURA, CA                     MAJESTIC VENTURA THEATER
05/13/13        SAN FRANCISCO, CA       THE REGENCY BALLROOM
05/14/13        SAN DIEGO, CA                   HOUSE OF BLUES
05/16/13        DALLAS, TX                              GRANADA THEATER
05/17/13        SAN ANTONIO, TX         BACKSTAGE LIVE – OUTDOORS
05/18/13        HOUSTON, TX                     OUTDOORS HOUSTON GUITAR FESTIVAL
5/21/13         SAUGET, IL                              POPS
5/23/13         NEW ORLEANS, LA         HOUSE OF BLUES
5/24/13         ORLANDO, FL                     PLAZA THEATRE
5/25/13         MIAMI, FL                               GRAND CENTRAL
5/26/13         TAMPA, FL                               ORPHEUM THEATRE

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.