UDR’s New Rhoads Tribute Record Pays Proper Respect To Guitarist’s Memory And Legacy

Courtesy:  UDR

Courtesy: UDR

Cover albums and tribute records are a dime a dozen. It would be no surprise if it turned out that there are more covers albums and tribute records churned out every year than albums of actual new material. Considering the number of covers albums and tribute records churned out each year–most of which are little more than contractually obligated space-fillers–it means that most of the noted compilations will either sit on store shelves and fade into obscurity or they will just end up being shipped back to the record companies from whence they came. So that leaves the question as to which compilations are worth at least one listen. This past March, UDR answered that question at least to a point with its new tribute to the late guitarist Randy Rhoads Immortal Randy Rhoads – The Ultimate Tribute. The eleven track disc is one of those records that is worth at least one listen if no more. It features covers of some of the most famous songs on which Rhoads performed before his untimely death on March 19, 1982. That is just one of the reasons that audiences will want to give this record at least one listen. The lineup of artists tapped to re-work Rhoads’ songs is another reason that audiences will want to give this record at least one listen. And then there are the disc’s production values. Grammy award-winning producer Bob Kulich manned the boards for the project. Listening to the balance of each part within each song, it’s no wonder that the album’s production values are so noteworthy. All three elements on their own are worth their own share of attention. Combined, they show that Immortal Randy Rhoads – The Ultimate Tribute, while not immortal itself, is a compilation that fans of Rhoads’ work will want to hear at least once.

Immortal Randy Rhoads is not the only collection of songs co-written at least in part by Randy Rhoads and recorded by Rhoads. Despite this, it still stands as a collection that fans of Rhoads’ work will want to hear at least once. The main reason for this is the fact that the eleven-track disc, which comes in at a total of fifty-two minutes, focuses not just one Rhoads’ short-time with rock legend Ozzy Osbourne, but on his career at large. Yes, the majority of the record’s body is composed of songs that Rhoads co-wrote and recorded with Ozzy. But, there is also a pair of songs featured here representing his time with Quiet Riot in the form of ‘Back to the Coast’ and ‘Killer Girls.’ Producer Bob Kulich heading the whole project, one can only imagine that he had a hand in the sequencing of the songs that make up the compilation. While there are only two songs representative of Rhoads’ work with Quiet Riot, they change things up just enough to keep listeners engaged. The same can be said of the overall mood of the songs in whole. The mood changes with each song just enough, too to keep listeners engaged. Both the changing mood of the songs and the compilation’s sequencing overall make for a solid foundation on which the rest of the record’s elements rest, thus making plenty of reason within itself for listeners to check out this compilation.

The songs that make up the body of Immortal Randy Rhoads – The Ultimate Tribute make a solid foundation for the record. Their sequencing and the overall changing mood of the songs from one to the next will encourage listeners to give the record at least one listen. The artists that were tapped to re-work the songs make for just as much reason for audiences to check out this collection of songs. Famed singer Tim “Ripper” Owens (Iced Earth, Judas Priest, Yngwie Malmsteen) handles vocal duties for much of the record save for just three songs–‘Crazy Train,’ ‘Mr. Crowley,’ and ‘Back to the Coast.’ Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio, Kill Devil Hill) shares drumming duties with fellow veteran drummers Brett Chassen and Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot) while Ozzy’s latest axe-man Gus G. shares duties on the guitar with Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Night Ranger), Doug Aldrich (Revolution Saints, Dio, Whitesnake), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger, Ozzy Osbourne, Rubicon), Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom) and even Bob Kulich himself. Dweezil Zappa joins in on bass on one song while Rudzy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake) handles bass duties on a number of the disc’s songs. There are other names included in the collection’s lineup. These are just some of the figures tapped to record and perform Rhoads’ songs. It’s not just a bunch of no-name individuals, either. It is a who’s who of rock’s past present and future. Some of them were friends of Rhoads. Others were closely familiar with his work. Such closeness with Rhoads and his work means a certain level of respect for both, which in turn leads to the product presented on this record. It isn’t just a bunch of material slapped together haphazardly save maybe for the disc’s opener. That one is self-explanatory. Other than that moment, the rest of the material presented in this record by the A-list of musicians shows true respect for Rhoads and his legacy. It translates clearly through to listeners, too. And in translating so well, it shows once more why this collection is worth at least one listen.

The songs that make up the body of Immortal Randy Rhoads – The Ultimate Tribute and the artists tapped to re-works Rhoads’ classic songs are equally important to the success of this record. Considering their importance, they would not be worth even the slightest mention without a mention of the work put in behind the glass during their recording. Grammy award-winning producer Bob Kulich is to thank in large part for making the songs sound as good as they do. Listening to the songs and hearing their balance, audiences will be pleasantly surprised at how well each song is balanced. The balance allows for every one of the superstars featured in each song to get his moment. Not only that but it allows for the full body of each of Rhoads’ songs to come through. The result is eleven tracks that sound equally solid from one to the next and ultimately eleven tracks that will keep listeners fully engaged from the collections’ first song to its last. In giving each song a chance and considering each of the noted elements, every listener will agree once again that among all of the covers albums and tribute records out there, this is one that deserves at least one listen rather than being left on store shelves.

Hopefully it has been proven by now that among all of the covers albums and tribute records that are churned out every year, UDR’s recently released tribute to Randy Rhoads, Immortal Randy Rhoads – The Ultimate Tribute is one that is deserving of at least one listen; this despite the fact that it is not the only tribute to Rhoads that has been released so far this year. It is not one those records that was just tossed together to make a little money for the label. That is made clear through the record’s collection of songs, its all-star cast of performers, and its production values. It is a record that Rhoads’ fans of all ages will appreciate. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from UDR is available online now at:

Websitehttp://www.udr-music.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/UDR.music

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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Gus G.’s Solo Debut A Record That Every Rock Purist Should Hear

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Guitarist Gus G.’s solo debut I Am The Fire is an album that any hard rock and rock purist must hear at least once in 2014.  This record exhibits elements of the award-winning guitarist’s entire career over the course of its dozen total tracks.  From more modern sounding material similar to the likes of Three Days Grace to older classic Iron Maiden style shredding to anything in between, G. (a.k.a. Kostas Karamitroudis) offers his listeners a musical melting pot on this record.  Add in guest appearances from fellow greats such as Billy Sheehan and David Ellefson among many others, and audiences get a record that more than deserves a spot on any critic’s year-end lists of the best new rock and/or hard rock records.

I Am The Fire wastes no time grabbing the attention of its audiences.  That is exhibited in the album’s opener, ‘My Will Be Done.’  The song’s first few bars hint at what’s about to come before it really launches with its full, driving energy.  And the vocals of singer Mats Leven (Therion, Krux, Candlemass) add even more of a punch to the song.  Leven sings against G.’s full throttle guitar work, “I hit the gas out on the road/And I don’t care about tomorrow/I see the places that you don’t/I will command and you will follow.”  Those first few lines are classic rock anthem in every sense of the term.  And they perfectly complement the song’s energy.  They exude the attitude and energy of so many classic anthems that have come before.   Leven goes on in the song’s chorus singing, “Why not get on it/Life depends on it/I’m gonna survive /I felt your disgust/In myself I trust/I am right/You are wrong/My will be done.”  That presents even more of that defiant, self-assured attitude exhibited in so many far more classic rock songs.  And it doesn’t stop there, either as listeners will hear throughout the song’s remaining verses.  Having that attitude and energy exhibited so expertly throughout this  song makes ‘My Will Be Done’ the perfect choice with which to open I Am The Fire.

The classic rock and roll attitude and energy crafted and released in the opener of I Am The Fire made that song the perfect choice with which to open the album.  Just as welcome an addition to this album is the first of the album’s two instrumental tracks, ‘Vengeance.’  Coming less than halfway through the album, Gus G. really gets the chance to shine in this track.  Audiences can take their pick in terms of comparisons.  The veteran guitarist shows why he is more than deserving of having his name next to any number of other guitar greats.  He shows just as much why he was the obvious choice to take over guitar duties for Ozzy Osbourne on his 2010 album Scream.  Audiences will especially enjoy this song because it bridges so well, the classic shredding style of so many veteran guitarists and that of more modern rock.  It is one more well-chosen addition to the record as a whole.

For all of the intense energy contained throughout the songs on I Am The Fire, Gus G. does give listeners some more pulled back moments, too.  Case in point: ‘Long Way Down.’  Eyes Set To Kill vocalist Alexia Rodriguez handles vocal duties on this far deeper and emotional song.  If one were to hear this song without knowing Rodriguez was handling vocal duties, one would almost swear it was Evanesence singer Amy Lee with Gus G. and the rest of the musicians on hand for the song sounding like the rest of Evanesence.  She does quite the job of capturing the song’s emotion as she sings, “Nobody’s perfect/Is it really worth it/To let this go to waste/Just let me break away/Break away/Release my tension/Nothing left between the ledge and the ground/Take away/Take away/My regression/I’m on the edge/Another step/It’s a long way down.”  Obviously, these lyrics are meant in an entirely metaphorical sense.  She’s not actually singing about a subject jumping to one’s own death.  Most people likely would already know this.  But sadly, there are those that take things far too seriously even today.  So it necessitates that being pointed out.  The lyrics, it would seem, are meant to illustrate one’s own personal inner turmoil and how that turmoil is ripping said subject apart inside.  Yes, it’s a standard lyrical topic.  But the manner in which Rodriguez and Karamitroudis capture the song’s emotion is what makes it well worth the listen.  It is of course just one more of so many songs on I Am The Fire that makes this album one that every rock and hard rock purist should experience at least once before 2014 ends.  Gus G.’s European fans will get to hear his new music live as he kicks off his “”Unity 1” tour tomorrow, March 7th with Uli Jon Roth, Jorn Lande and Mats Leven.  The six-date tour begins in Kerkyra, Greece tomorrow and winds down in Athens next Wednesday, March 12th in Athens, Greece.

The “Unity 1” tour winds down a little less than a week before the release of I Am The Fire.  Fans don’t have to wait to get the album, though.  It can be pre-ordered online now via Century Media’s online store at  http://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=715.  Fans can get more information on I Am The Fire, tour dates and more online at http://www.gusgofficial.com and http://www.facebook.com/officialgusg.  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.

Black Utopia Re-Issue Another Hit For Sherinian

Courtesy:  Armoury Records/Eagle RockEntertainment

Courtesy: Armoury Records/Eagle RockEntertainment

Derek Sherinian’s second solo album Black Utopia is an interesting work from this world renowned keyboardist.  There is so much to say about this record and not enough space or time to go into everything.  So instead of rambling, we’ll hit on the main points of what makes this album just as enjoyable for Sherinian’s fans the second time around as it was in its original release.   The first aspect of this album that makes it so enjoyable is its sequencing.  That is to say the order of the songs.  The second factor that listeners will appreciate (especially those that might be hearing the album for the first time) is the A-list guest stars that agreed to be a part of this album.  The third factor in the success of the album’s re-issue is the reworked liner notes.  All three of these factors together make Black Utopia an album that any Derek Sherinian fan will appreciate just as much in its new re-issue as they did in its initial release some ten years ago.

The success of Black Utopia is thanks in large part to its sequencing.  The album’s sequencing greatly exhibits the understanding of and appreciation for music possessed by both Derek Sherinian and co-producer Simon Phillips.  The pair treat Black Utopia as if they were creating a set list for a live show.  The energy of the songs rises and falls just enough throughout the course of the album’s nine tracks to keep listeners fully engaged.  That energy rises and falls just enough within the context of the songs themselves to make the energy in the transitions between songs even more impactful.  It shows on a deeper level, the pair’s understanding of and appreciation for their craft.  The resultant effect is one the makes this album one of those rare albums that listeners will want to take in from start to finish without skipping even one song. It’s just the starting point of the album’s success, too. And that’s saying something.

Black Utopia’s success is thanks in large part to its sequencing.  The sequencing of the songs would be moot without the music crafted by Sherinian and the guest musicians that make appearances on this album.  That is the second factor in this album’s creation that makes it a success.  Sherinian invited some of the biggest names in the business to join him on this record.  And it’s a good thing they accepted his invitation.  Among those major names are the likes of Simon Phillips (The Who, Judas Priest, Gary Moore, etc.), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Al Di Meola (Return To Forever, Chick Corea), Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Sheehan (Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big) and others.  Their talents are well shared throughout the record.  The whole group teams up on the album’s opener for what is without a doubt one of the album’s absolute best works.  Malmsteen puts on a virtual clinic with his shredding, while Sherinian himself manages somehow to mix in a touch of jazz/fusion at one point, adding even more flare and substance to the song.  And the combination of Zakk Wylde, Simon Phillips, Tony Franklin and Jerry Goodman on ‘Nightmare Cinema’ is incredible.  Sherinian’s etherial keyboard part set against Phillips’ drumming early on perfectly illustrates the song’s title.  It establishes quite the eerie vibe.  The eventual addition of Wylde on guitar adds even more depth to the song as it progresses.  It is simply something that must be heard in order to be fully appreciated.  The same can be noted of the album’s remaining tracks.  Sherinian  and his fellow musicians come together on each song to show just why their addition to Black Utopia is such an important part of the album’s overall success.

The who’s  who of musicians recruited to record Black Utopia alongside Derek Sherinian is just as important to the success of the album as its sequencing.  Without the talent of the musicians in question, the sequencing would not be all that important to discuss.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case here.  And because it wasn’t the case, it leaves only one remaining factor to note of this re-issue.  The factor in question is the updated liner notes included with the album.  This time out, Black Utopia includes an article crafted by journalist Joe Lalaina, of Guitar World magazine.  Lalaina outlines the album in his own words.  Sherinian’s own thoughts on Black Utopia are also included as a follow-up to Lalaina.  Listeners will take special interest in Sherinian’s comment about working with Brian Tichy (Something Unto Nothing, Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol).  He notes that it was his friendship and working relationship with Tichy that led the pair to work together on this album.  There’s also mention of his excitement of working with both Yngwie Malmsteen and Al Di Meola.  One of his comments in particular regarding this can’t be repeated here.  But it will most definitely have listeners laughing.  It’s the finishing touch to an album that any hard rock fan should hear at least once now that it has been re-issued by Armoury Records.  More information on this and other albums from Derek Sherinian is available online at http://www.dereksherinian.com.  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.

Gus G. Debuts EPK Ahead Of New Single, Album Release

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Ozzy Osbourne guitarist and Firewind front man Gus G. will release his debut solo album this Spring.  I Am The Fire is scheduled to be released March 18th in the United States.  It will be released March 17th in Europe.  It will be released worldwide via Century Media Records.  Before he releases his debut, Gus G. has released a brand new EPK that offers audiences a look inside the making of the album.  Fans can check out the new EPK online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJd38EoTLkA&feature=youtu.be.

The album’s title track is impacting radio now.  It is currently playing on Sirius RadioXM Octane.  It will be added to mainstream radio stations’ playlists beginning next Tuesday, February 18th.  It features the members of hard rock band Devour The Day as special guests.  It will go on sale digitally via iTunes February 25th.  The track listing for I Am The Fire is listed below.

        ‘I AM THE FIRE’ TRACK LISTING:

  1. My Will Be Done (feat. Mats Levén)
  2. Blame It On Me (feat. Mats Levén)
  3. I Am The Fire (feat. Devour The Day)
  4. Vengeance (feat. David Ellefson)
  5. Long Way Down (feat. Alexia Rodriguez)
  6. Just Can’t Let Go (feat. Jacob Bunton)
  7. Terrified (feat. Billy Sheehan)
  8. Eyes Wide Open (feat. Mats Levén)
  9. Redemption (feat. Michael Starr)
  10. Summer Days (feat. Jeff Scott Soto)
  11. Dreamkeeper (feat. Tom S. Englund)
  12. End Of The Line (feat. Mats Levén)

Gus G. handled all guitar, bass, and keyboard parts on his solo debut.  Brought along for the record were drummers Jeff Friedl (A Perfect Circle, Puscifer, Devo) and, Daniel Erlandsson (Arch Enemy) bassists David Ellefson (Megadeth), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, David Lee Roth), and Marty O’Brien (Tommy Lee, We Are The Fallen), and vocalists Mats Leven (Candlemass, ex-Yngwie Malmstein/Therion), Blake Allison (Devour The Day), Michael Starr (Steel Panther), Alexia Rodriguez (Eyes Set To Kill),Tom S. Englund (Evergrey), Jacob Bunton (Adler) and Jeff Scott Soto (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, ex-Journey).  The album was produced by Jay Ruston (Stone Sour, Anthrax, Steel Panther).

More information on Gus G., his new album, tour news and more is available online at http://www.gusgofficial.com, http://www.facebook.com/officialgusg, and http://twitter.com/gusgofficial.  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.

Armoury Records Gives Sherinian’s Latest Solo Effort A Proper Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Armoury Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Armoury Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment

Every year, consumers see any number of albums re-issued from a variety of artists, groups, and bands. The reasons for those re-issues are as varied as the re-issues themselves. It goes without saying that among that annual mass of music, some of it is worth the purchase, while some of it is not as worthwhile. Keyboardist Derek Sherinian saw all of his solo releases re-issued this week. Those albums are among the re-issues that are worth purchasing. This is especially the case for those that are long-time fans of his music. Sherinian proved throughout each of his solo releases that he was just as good on his own as he was with any of the bands and artists with whom he had already worked over the course of his career. One of the best examples of that talent is his 2009 release, Molecular Heinosity.

Molecular Heinosityis the fifth and most recent of Sherinian’s solo releases. As with his previous four solo releases, this record is largely an instrumental release. The sole song on this album that includes any lyrics is one of two pieces he recorded with long-time friend and Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde. The song in question is ‘So Far Gone.’ Audiences will also be interested to note that Brian Tichy joins Sherinian on this track. Tichy has also played drums for the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, and Zakk WYlde on Wylde’s 199 release Pride& Glory. Most recently, Tichy played with the hard rock supergroup Something Unto Nothing. So it goes without saying that there is a certain level of familiarity between the trio. And it shows in this song, too. The trio–along with fellow musicians Tina Guo (cello) and Tony Franklin (fretless bass)–come together to make this one of the album’s best pieces. Wylde proves once again on this song why he is one of the most revered guitarists in the music business. And Tichy’s timekeeping is rock solid despite the various time signature changes throughout the song. Sherinian’s work on the keys is not to be ignored, either. Whether by himself, partnered with Tina Guo’s performance on cello or even the semi-call and response with Wylde in the song’s bridge, Sherinian shows time and again in this song why he is such a sought after musician even after so many decades in the business. This isn’t the only point at which he exhibits such talent on this record. Another of the album’s high points comes in the album’s second track, titled ‘Ascension.’

‘Ascension’ is one of this album’s high points especially in that it boasts something of a similarity to the music he wrote with his former band mates in Dream Theater. To be even more precise, it sounds stylistically like the music that he wrote with his now ex-band mates for the band’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity.  What is most interesting of all in this song is just how much is going on within the context of the song’s near three-minute run time.  That’s right.  This song comes in at less than three minutes in length.  To be more exact, it clocks in at two minutes and fifteen seconds.  That’s pretty short.  Yet, the way that it gradually builds, from start to finish makes it so interesting.  Making it even more interesting is what would appear to be Sherinian mimicking a guitar part with his keyboard in this song.  If that is indeed the case, he is to be even more highly commended.  That’s because that part could easily pass as a guitar.  And it shows even more his understanding of and appreciation for his instrument.  The song’s musical effect overall shows his knowledge of music and his talent just as much.  All of that together makes this song all the more enjoyable.

The songs that comprise Molecular Heinosity each have their own musical identity.  Collectively, they make the entire album one that any fan of Sherinian will enjoy.  Now that it has been re-issued courtesy of Armoury Records, the music is just part of the album’s success.  Just as important to this re-issue is the new companion booklet.  Most people don’t pay too much attention to the liner notes that come with albums in their physical form.  But as audiences will see in the album’s new liner notes, there’s plenty to take in.  This album for instance gives listeners a bio of sorts on Sherinian and his career.  It goes all the way back to his days playing with Alice Cooper and Billy Idol as well as a little surprise background on his departure from Dream Theater.  This critic was surprised to learn that he didn’t leave Dream Theater, but was in fact let go from the band.    Along with the semi-career bio, Armoury Records also included background notes from Sherinian on a handful of songs.  That background info gives extra insight into said songs.  It’s too bad that more bands, artists, and musicians don’t do this.  It’s one more reason that the physical object will never be fully replaced by the digital.  Little things like background notes on songs as art of the liner notes serve to enhance one’s listening experience.  And this album is no exception to that rule.  The bonus liner notes and bio included in this new re-issue are wonderful compliments to the album’s music.  Together, they make the whole product again, one that any fan of Derek Sherinian will want to add to their library especially if they do not already own this record.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Derek Sherinian’s official website at http://www.dereksherinian.com/merchandise.htm.  More information on this and other releases from Derek Sherinian is available online at http://www.dereksherinian.com.  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.

Zakk Wylde Releases Teaser Trailer For Upcoming BLS Album

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Media outlets across the country have already started releasing their lists of the year’s most anticipated albums.  Bands the likes of Slipknot, Tool, Mastadon, Down, and so many others have found themselves on the lists of so many writers.  Now Black Label Society founder and front man Zakk Wylde has thrown his band’s name in the ring for a spot on those lists.  Wylde released a semi-cryptic video today via YouTube announcing the upcoming release of BLS’ upcoming new release. Audiences can check out the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN13Pp5EJWs&feature=youtu.be.

Catacombs of the Black Vatican is currently scheduled to be released April 8th, 2014.  It is the band’s first new full length studio release since 2009’s Order of the Black and will be the band’s ninth full length studio release.  Order of the Black debuted at Number Four on Billboard’s Top 200 Chart in its original release.  The band’s most recent release is 2013’s live recording, Unblackened.  That recording was released separately on double-disc CD, DVD, and Blu-ray.  It saw Wylde and company performing last year, a much more toned down set than that for which they are known to hold.  It was recorded at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, California, BLS’ the territory of the BLS home chapter.

Long time BLS fans know the “Black Vatican” to be Wylde’s recording studio.  It is where some of BLS’ best music has been recorded and produced.  That knowledge serves to build even more excitement over the upcoming record. More information on Catacombs of the Black Vatican is available online at http://www.facebook.com/blacklabelsociety, http://www.facebook.com/zakkwylde, http://twitter.comzakkwyldebls, and http://www.zakkwylde.com.  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.

Black Sabbath Live Is 2013’s Last Great Live Recording

Courtesy:  Universal Republic/Vertigo Records

Courtesy: Universal Republic/Vertigo Records

It’s getting ever more expensive to attend a live concert nowadays.  The cost of a pair of tickets alone can run a person well over a hundred dollars.  Factor in the cost of gas, food, souvenirs, and potentially even lodging, and a person can spend quite a bit on just one concert.  The cost of tickets alone is about to go up even more in 2014 for residents of one state thanks to a new tax law that will go into effect in 2014.  Taking all of this into account, it becomes increasingly wise to just pick up a live recording of one’s favorite band, musician, or musical group.  The question is which live releases are well worth the one-time cost for audiences that would rather save some money while enjoying a great concert?  One recommendation is Black Sabbath’s new live Blu-ray and DVD, Black Sabbath Live..Gathered in their Masses.  The first live recording from the band in many years, this live concert recording is one of the best live recordings of 2013. It is so worthwhile first and foremost because of its set list.  The show’s set list more than lives up to the oft-used term, career-spanning.  Just as important to note in this concert is the band’s very performance.  While one band member is noticeably absent, he is replaced quite effectively by another individual.  And his frenetic energy combined with that of the remaining original members exudes something almost magical.  Last but not least important to consider in this concert is the audio and video mix.  Both the audio and video are expertly mixed.  The camera crews take viewers up close with the band throughout the near two-hour concert.  It only adds to that magical sense, completing the overall presentation and making this new recording one that fans both of Black Sabbath and hard rock in general will enjoy time and again.

The term “career-defining” is far too often tossed around for live performances.  Far too many of those recordings are in fact anything but career defining.  In the case of Black Sabbath though, that term is more than deserved.  The band includes nearly every one of the hits that have continued to make it the paramount band that it has remained for decades despite being inactive just as long.  ‘War Pig’s’ opens the show as are the equally beloved ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Black Sabbath.’  It’s all bookended by another massive hit in ‘Paranoid.’  Those that are hoping for something more recent get that, too in the form of ‘Methademic’, ‘End of the Beginning’ and ‘God Is Dead?’  These songs comprise just part of the band’s extensive set list.  There are plenty more songs included in this show that play into its success.  Audiences will each have their favorites when they pick up the new recording for themselves on Blu-ray and DVD.

The set list chosen for this concert is part of the heart of the concert’s success.  Just as important to the success of the recording is the band’s onstage presence.  It’s incredible to think how many years had passed since Ozzy, Geezer, and Tony had performed together under the Black Sabbath moniker.  Drummer Bill Ward was not on hand.  Allegedly there are some hurt feelings between him and his now former band mates for some reason.  That’s not what’s important here, though.  Tommy Clufetos, who records and tours with Ozzy’s own band, handles drum duties on this concert.  And he more than handles his appointed duties, too.  He plays with the same intensity of a young John Bonham.  That’s evident both in the case of his work with the rest of the band and on his solos.  The rest of the band seems to feed off of Clufetos’ energy, too.  That energy is evident throughout the band’s performance, too.  The band may be years older, but they definitely got their audience just as energetic and excited.  Home viewers will feel it, too.  And that’s just one more aspect of this recording that makes it one of the year’s best.

The set list and stage presence of Ozzy and company are both extremely important in the overall enjoyment of Black Sabbath’s new live recording.  There is still one more factor to consider in examining this recording.  That factor is the recording’s combined audio and video mix.  The audio and video mix of any live recording is its foundation.  Far too often, people take this factor for granted.  But there are those recordings that suffer in these areas because of someone that is either inexperienced or simply doesn’t care to do their job the right way. Luckily for Black Sabbath fans, that isn’t the case here.  The video and audio were both expertly mixed.  Even as large as the venue was, the audio is crisp and clear.  The same can be said for the video mix.  It works with the set list and the band’s overall stage show to make Black Sabbath Live…Gathered in Their Masses a recording that is just as worth the money as going to see Black Sabbath live if not more so.  It is available now in stores and online.

More information on Black Sabbath and its tour schedule is available online at http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath and http://www.blacksabbath.com.  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.