Audiences Will Enjoy “Fan Made” Rockumentary

Courtesy:  Arts Alliance Media/Scott Free/Black Dog

Courtesy: Arts Alliance Media/Scott Free/Black Dog

Bruce Springsteen.  One name.  So many thoughts.  Few artists have meant to the music industry what he and his band mates in the E Street Band have—and still mean—to audiences and fellow musicians through their career.  Now thanks to film maker Baillie Walsh, audiences get a very special look at just what he and his band mates mean to the world.  Walsh has directed a new documentary centered on “The Boss” that is comprised largely of fans submissions. The documentary, Springsteen and I, presents what he and his band’s music mean to fans from the first hand perspective of his fans.

Lots of documentaries have been made over the years that include fan submissions.  But it’s rare for music documentaries to consist nearly entirely from the perspective of the fans.  It makes this a very special presentation.  What’s so interesting in terms of the fan submissions is just how many people from so many backgrounds Bruce Springsteen has reached throughout the course of his career.  Audiences see fans from every walk of life.  There are truckers, housewives, hopeful musicians, and so many others in between.  Just as interesting is the sentiment shared throughout the fan submissions.  Every fan notes just how important of a role Springsteen’s music has played in their life.  At one point, one fan tells his story of the importance of Springsteen’s music as he drives, and begins to become very emotional.  It’s one of the most moving of the main feature’s barely hour plus run time.  On the completely opposite end, there’s an appearance by “The King” in one fan story that will have audiences laughing and smiling together.  Whereas the previous moment noted was one of the film’s most moving, this moment is one of the most memorable for the wonderful feelings that it will bring about.  The story shared by the Elvis impersonator is one of this documentary’s most enjoyable of highlights.  There are plenty more highlights that could be shared.  But that would mean endless rambling.  And that is not what this critic is here to do.  However, it does bring about another aspect of the documentary that audiences will enjoy just as much as the stories shared by their fellow fans.  That enjoyable secondary aspect of the documentary is the fan and professional footage used for the feature. 

The professional footage included in the feature makes up a healthy portion of its live performances.  As a matter of fact, the second hour of the feature is nothing but live footage of Springsteen and company culled from over the years.  While both the live and “bootleg” footage are combined throughout the first hour of the documentary to help illustrate the stories shared by Springsteen’s fans, the documentary’s more professionally recorded performances complete everything.  The second half of the documentary is comprised largely of live performances.  It culminates with the now infamous London 2012 performance in which the plug was pulled because the show went past the city curfew.  It makes sense as to why the London show was used as the final performance in the documentary.  The way in which it went out literally with the lights made for even more impact.  That’s because the show didn’t end there.  Springsteen stayed devoted to the audience and played one more song before having to leave the stage.  It was one last tribute to what it is that makes people love Springsteen so much to this day.  Sir Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings) was there along with John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival), Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, Street Sweeper Social Club).  The footage sound and video were expertly mixed both with this concert and with the others included throughout the documentary’s second half.  Even after the concert ends, there’s one more surprise for audiences that takes up the last ten minutes or so of the documentary.  It will leave audiences feeling entirely fulfilled, knowing they have just experienced something very special.     

The mix of live footage and fan submitted stories makes Springsteen and I more than just another concert documentary or documentary.  All things considered, it will be a wonderful experience for any true fan of Bruce Springsteen from start to finish.  And it will be an equally welcome addition to any Springsteen fan’s home library when it is eventually released to DVD and/or Blu-ray.  But first, it will run exclusively in theaters one time today, July 22nd and again next Tuesday, July 30th.  Audiences can check to see if it will play at their nearest theater online at http://www.fathomevents.com/#!springsteen-and-i.  Fans in Greenville, North Carolina will get to see this feature tonight at the Greenville Grande 14.  Audiences in Raleigh will also get to see it as it will play at the Brier Creek Stadium 14.  Fans in the mountains of North Carolina will also get to see the presentation as it will run at theaters in Asheville, Charlotte, Concord, Greensboro, and Salisbury.  Tickets for showings can also be purchased online at http://www.fathomevents.com/#!springsteen-and-i

To keep up with tall of the latest news and more from Bruce Springsteen, fans can follow him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/brucespringsteen and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/springsteen.  Fans can also get all the latest news and notes from Bruce Springsteen on his official website, http://www.brucespringsteen.net

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Rockshow Another Welcome Live Release For Fans of McCartney AND Wings

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment has for some time, been the place to go for anyone wanting to learn anything about the history of modern mainstream music.  The company has released live recordings from greats such as: Ray Charles, Miles Davis, The B-52s, Deep Purple and more over the years.  It has even ventured into the realm of newer music with live releases from artists including: The Raconteurs, Stone Temple Pilots, Alanis Morissette, and even Slipknot.  Now Eagle Rock has taken music lovers the world over back in time once again with yet another impressive live release from another of music’s greatest names in the form of one Sir Paul McCartney.

Eagle Rock has just released a new live recording from Sir Paul McCartney and his band mates in Wings, titled, Rockshow.  It would be so easy to state that this performance presents McCartney and company at the top of their game.  But the reality is that McCartney himself has always been at the top of his game.  This performance is just one more example of his and his band mates’ talent.  There are those that have complained about issues with audio in the transfer from this performance’s original VHS recording to the DVD and Blu-ray format.  One can’t help but wonder if this was a mostly isolated problem.  The Blu-ray screener viewed by this critic didn’t seem to have any audio issues whatsoever.  And for those that complained about the video quality, one must remember that this concert was originally recorded nearly four decades ago.  So yes, it is going to be grainy.  Fans of the music icon should be appreciative that the effort was even made to transfer the masters from Betamax to DVD and Blu-ray.  Considering all that could have gone wrong with the transfer, the grainy footage is just one more part of the whole that makes this another success for Eagle Rock Entertainment and for Sir Paul’s fans.

Having tackled the elephant in the room, the next logical step here would be to take a look at the band’s performance overall.  Whether one is a fan of McCartney’s time with The Beatles or more of his work away from the band that helped him launch his career, both sides will be equally impressed by the set list of this concert.  It all kicks off with the crowd pleaser, ‘Venus and Mars/Rock Show/Jet.’  Throughout the course of the roughly two hour-long recording, McCartney and company cover largely material from Wing’s catalogue.  Though there are some Beatles tunes peppered in for good measure including: ‘Lady Madonna’, ‘Blackbird’, and ‘The Long and Winding Road.’  They intentionally avoided the Beatles material as much as possible during this and other performances intentionally in order to separate the two bands.  As author/media personality Paul Gambaccini writes in the included liner notes, “In the early seventies McCartney did not perform Beatles songs in concert, wanting to establish Wings on its own.  Now, in 1976, the group is in full flight, and Paul can use some of the songs he wrote in the sixties to spice up the set.”  It really was a logical plan of action for someone that had built his name with such a big band.  And it helps to make this performance so much more enjoyable.

Staying on the matter of Gambaccini’s writing, this is another positive factor to the whole that is Rockshow.  His writing style is less journalism and more storytelling.  Set alongside the photos of the band, the pair takes viewers back in time.  He doesn’t try to write above himself.  And he doesn’t try to write above the heads of those that would buy this new release.  It’s easily accessible for general audiences.  Because of this, the actual concert experience is that much richer whether one was actually there or not when this performance was originally recorded.

Getting back to the actual concert experience, the band covers more than its own material and that of The Beatles.  Audiences will enjoy the inclusion of the Moody Blues classic, ‘Go Now.’  This song about lost love is ironically one of the whole performance’s highlights.  It’s a highlight not so much because of the music, but because of the sight of Paul and his then wife Linda performing side by side.  There is something so contradictory about this sight set against a song about lost love.  Audiences can see just how in love the couple was.  Sadly, she would pass many years later.  Knowing this, it makes this moment all the more special.  It makes the final two pages of the included booklet all the more touching as a closing gesture, too.  The booklet’s penultimate page features a concert poster for the original 1976 tour with Paul’s face there.  The final page is a picture of Linda exactly as she looked in this recording.  She was one of the ones for whom this re-mastered recording was dedicated.  While McCartney himself might not have had a hand in this new re-issue, he surely had to have seen this touching gesture.  Fans will see it too, and hopefully be just as moved by this and the sight of her performing with her then husband.  It’s a touching final moment of what is another enjoyable live release from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The DVD and Blu-ray are both available now in stores and online.  They can be ordered online direct from the Eagle Rock Entertainment website at http://www.eagle-rock.com.

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Live Kisses Another Gem From McCartney

Courtesy:  mpL/Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: mpL/Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Former Beatle and veteran musician Sir Paul McCartney has proven once more on his new release, Live Kisses, why he is still one of the music industry’s most respected names.  This live in-studio performance presents McCartney from Capitol Studios as he recorded the tracks for his most recent release, Kisses on the Bottom.  The recording session was recorded on February 9th of this year.  A lot went into making Live Kisses the enjoyable in-studio performance that it was and will be for any McCartney and Beatles fan this holiday season and well into the New Year.

Live Kisses takes audiences not so much behind the scenes of the recording of Kisses from the Bottom but into the recording process as it happened.  Watching the recording process at work is just as entertaining as listening to the finished product.  The whole mood of the “performance” is set through simple factors such as lighting, the use of older style microphones, and even recording pieces of the session in black and white.  That alone really helps to elevate the nostalgic vibe of the classic standards included in the record as each is being recorded.  If that isn’t enough, the very setting of the recording room at the legendary Capitol Records adds even more to the throwback feeling of the music.  Especially those who have any knowledge of the history behind Capitol Records will appreciate the session being filmed at the company’s headquarters.  There is even a note about the space in which the recording session took place in the booklet that accompanies this recording  Along with the session’s other factors, they all come together to make a performance that will create a strong sense of nostalgia in any listener’s mind.

The setting and general effect went a long way toward making this performance something very special.  They were just part of the overall enjoyment of Live Kisses though.  While enjoying the songs performed in this session, audiences are also presented with images of his own childhood as he sings, ‘Home (When Shadows Fall).  The combination of the two adds a truly emotional moment to McCartney’s performance here.  Famed jazz musician Diana Krall’s inclusion on the piano on this song makes it that much more of a joy to experience. 

Speaking of Mrs. Krall, both she and her husband Elvis Costello play a role throughout the recording session presented on this Blu-ray disc.  Costello shares with viewers both an introduction to the performance and a transcript of the conversation between himself and McCartney in the accompanying “book” in which the disc comes.  There’s even a joke shared between the two veteran musicians about the inclusion of Krall in the performance.  Of course, the comments regarding her are nothing but positive.  Audiences can find out for themselves what the pair discuss, and can also experience this amazing performance when they pick up this brand new Blu-ray release in store or online.  Live Kisses can be ordered direct online via Eagle Rock Entertainments, website, http://www.eagle-rock.com/product/EVB334289/Live+Kisses and at McCartney’s own official website, http://store.paulmccartney.com/livekisses/usd.php

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New Blu-Ray Shows Hendrix In A Whole New Light

Courtesy: Sony Legacy

It goes without saying that Jimi Hendrix us one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century.  Countless guitarists have tried to emulate his style ever since he came to fame in the late 1960’s.  And they still try to do just that to this day.  The irony of his influence is that Jimi Hendrix apparently was not fond of having such a label placed on him.

The brand new documentary, “West Coast Seattle Boy:  Jimi Hendrix:  Voodoo Child” presents a man who was actually a rather reluctant star.  Audiences see through Jimi’s personal documents and an interview with Dick Cavett, a man who was more about being a great musician than being a rock star.  That modesty and love of music first is ironically what makes him so worthy of respect.

Learning of Jimi’s modesty is just one part of what makes this documentary so impressive.  While it’s called a documentary on the box, the reality is that this presentation is actually a ninety-minute video bio.  Audiences are taken on a journey through Hendrix’s life from his childhood to his untimely death in 1970.  Instead of being just another documentary loaded with sound bites from various celebrities, his story is told through his own documents and words.  The visual timeline used to illustrate each phase of his life is an excellent visual aid that any viewer will love.

Through the course of the timeline, viewers learn interesting facts of Jimi’s journey to fame.  They’ll be left in awe to learn that this legend came up through the ranks, playing with legends such as Little Richard and The Isley Brothers just to name a couple.  And that Paul McCartney was one of the first individuals to give Jimi a major break is just as incredible to learn.  It’s amazing to learn that these legends would be the catalysts to Jimi himself one day becoming a legend in his own right.

“West Coast Seattle Boy:  Jimi Hendrix:  Voodoo Child” offers so much more history that viewers will enjoy discovering.  To try and cover it all would be to prattle on endlessly.  And that would defeat the purpose of this review.  Suffice to say that this new video bio of Jimi Hendrix is now available on blu-ray both in stores and online.  It can be ordered online, along with all four formats of the companion concert piece, “Jimi Plays Berkeley” at http://www.jimihendrix.com/us/shop.

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The Greatest Matt Monro shows why Matt Monro is one of The Greatest

Courtesy: EMI

Matt Monro is one of the greatest singers in the history of both jazz and popular mainstream music.  It’s been just over two decades since the world lost this vocal giant.  But thanks to work from his daughter, Michele, and the people at EMI, Monro’s legions of fans worldwide get to experience many of his greatest songs thanks to the 2010 release of “The Greatest Matt Monro.”

“The Greatest Matt Monro” is a fitting title for this recent compilation.  There are many people out there who know of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and so many other vocal legends.  But there are just as many who don’t know about Matt Monro.  This compilation could change all of that.  It includes many of his own pieces, as well as covers of other greats such as ‘Fly Me to The Moon (In Other Words)’ and ‘Yesterday’ among others.  Most audiences know ‘Fly Me to The Moon (In Other Words)’ thanks to Frank Sinatra.  But Monro’s rendition of the hit gives it a whole different life.  It’s a much smoother take on the song.  And his take on ‘Yesterday’ is just as powerful as the original.

This compilation also has more than enough songs to make for plenty of memorable moments for couples and happy couples to be.  From ‘Let There Be Love’ to ‘When I Fall in Love’, to ‘The Nearness of You’, there is plenty of material for a romantic moment any time of the year.  And the control that Monro had over his voice shows through in every song.  He was able to capture every little nuance of every song.  That ability to voice so much emotion so beautifully makes this compilation an absolute must have for any true jazz fan.  It’s just as beautiful an introduction for those who are unfamiliar with the work of a man who is at least one of the Greatest–if not THE Greatest–vocalists of all time.

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