Shout! Factory’s ‘Dragnet’ Re-Issue Is Another Welcome Addition To Company’s Shout! Select Series

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

When Jack Webb’s timeless cop action drama series Dragnet first aired Dec. 16, 1951, likely no one at the time thought it would be a timeless franchise that would go on to transcend generations of audiences.  Now 67 years later, it has become one of the most beloved and important properties in the worlds of television and movies.  That is proven as the series would go on to have its own extensive life on television – a life which is still very vibrant through and even turned into a big screen adaptation in 1987 in the form of Universal Pictures’ Dragnet.  The movie, which flopped in its opening weekend – according to information from Internet Movie Database (IMDB), it grossed $10.5 million, just over half of its $20 million budget – did end up going on to success both domestically and globally, ultimately grossing $53 million nationwide and more than $66 million overseas before ending its theatrical run.  Now more than 31 years after it made its initial debut, the movie – which has since gone on to be a cult favorite – has seen the light of day once again thanks to Shout! Factory.  The home entertainment company re-issued the modern classic on Blu-ray Oct. 30 as part of its ongoing Shout! Select series.  This latest re-issue is an overall welcome new addition to that series, too.  This statement is supported in part through the story’s writing.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bonus material included with the movie’s new re-issue strengthens that foundation even more.  It will be discussed a little later.  The movie’s average price range rounds out its most important elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Dragnet’s re-issue.  All things considered, the whole of Dragnet makes this re-issue another welcome addition to Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series and to the library of any classic movie buff.

Shout! Factory’s new Blu-ray re-issue of Universal Pictures’ 1987 cinematic adaptation of Jack Webb’s Dragnet franchise is another good addition to the Shout! Select series.  It is just as welcome in the libraries of any of the movie’s fans.  That is proven in part through the movie’s writing. The script finds Joe Friday’s nephew (played here by Dan Akroyd, and also named Joe) continuing in his uncle’s footsteps.  He is joined in this adventure by Pep Streebek (Tom Hanks – The Polar Express, Philadelphia, The Burbs).  This in itself is a tribute to the radio and television series that preceded this movie, as Friday notes his previous partners, and even includes a pack of Chesterfield cigarettes and a picture of Webb.  Where Webb’s original radio and TV series were serious, action-packed presentations, this incarnation has a much more light-hearted feel, yet does not sacrifice the action of those series.  The use of an evil cult that aims to take over the city throws back maybe not so much to the old Dragnet radio and TV series, but to old-time radio and TV in general.  To that it, it actually generates its own welcome sense of nostalgia.  The balance of the comedic elements to the action elements is a surprisingly welcome addition to the writing.  That is not to say that the serious side of Dragnet, which is more prevalent in the classic TV and movie series, is not welcome.  As a matter of fact, there is some of that seriousness here, but the more light-hearted approach set alongside that seriousness makes for a good balance of hard and soft at the same time.  The writing also is proven positive in the movie’s pacing.  From start to finish, the script never once loses focus or momentum, ensuring even more, viewers’ engagement and entertainment.  Between this factor, the balance of the script’s comedic and serious elements and the homage paid both to the original Dragnet series (and other classic radio and TV dramas), audiences get in the writing, an element that in whole, that forms a solid foundation for the movie’s new presentation.  While the combined writing elements go a long way toward making Dragnet engaging and enjoyable, that foundation is strengthened even more through the bonus content included with the movie’s presentation.

The bonus content featured with Dragnet’s new re-issue is important to note because of the insight and entertainment that it adds to the movie’s overall presentation.  The new audio commentary from famed pop culture historian Russell Dyball is one item that supports that statement. Dyball’s commentary is loaded with plenty of interesting tidbits throughout the story.  He shares discussions early on, of a former Los Angeles Police Chief.  He also offers commentary about Friday reciting LAPD dress code, noting that it is factual, as Friday and Streebek first meet, which is interesting in its own right.  As the story progresses, Dyball, who has provided commentary for various other movies’ home releases, also shares commentary about workings behind the camera connected to director Tom Mankiewicz and Akroyd, as well as notes of Akroyd’s refusal to use teleprompters, unlike that of Webb in the original series, the joke of Orange County residents’ conservative nature and that tie to Connie’s character and the subtlety of Friday’s transition from a grey suit to a brown suit.  That commentary is intriguing in its own right.  Between all of this and so much more that Dyball discusses over the course of the movie’s nearly two-hour run time (one hour, 46 minutes to be exact), audiences get so much to appreciate from that commentary.  It is yet another way in which bonus material proves to be just as important to a movie’s home release as the movie itself.  If any one thing can be said to the negative of Dyball’s commentary, it is that at times, Dyball comes across as he is reading from his own script than actually getting into the movie.  That is inferred through his delivery.  Of course at other times, he does seem to be involved in the movie, so maybe those other moments in which he seems disconnected are just misinterpretations.  Keeping this in mind, audiences will agree that Dyball’s commentary is, in the end, a crucial addition to the movie’s whole.

Dyball’s commentary is just one of the key bonuses included with Dragnet’s new re-issue.  The previously released bonus featurette “Just The Facts!: A Promotional Look At Dragnet With Dan Akroyd and Tom Hanks, adds even more for audiences to appreciate.  Given that this roughly 45-minute featurette (probably stretched to an hour for television at the time) was clearly released with the movie to help its ticket sales, many of today’s audiences likely have not seen it, or have not seen it in many years.  To that end, it is its own crucial addition to the presentation.  Audiences learn through the featurette, which is in fact hosted by Hanks and Akroyd, quite a bit of interesting information.  Viewers learn that Akroyd and Hanks were two very different types of actors off-screen for starters.  It is revealed that Akroyd apparently was very much the method actor, using old Jack Webb tapes between takes to get into the role of Friday’s nephew, while Hanks was more of an “act-as-you-go type of actor.  Additionally, viewers learn quite a bit about Webb the man, the director and the actor through this presentation.  It is revealed that Webb had a wonderful sense of humor as a person, but as a director, he was very strict.  According to the information in the featurette, Webb took very few takes and allowed for the use of very few suits by himself and his cast mates, thus cutting costs.  Another interesting note in this featurette is the respect that Webb had for the Los Angeles Police Department, and in turn the respect that the agency had for him.  There was so much respect in both directions, that the LAPD even held a very special memorial for Webb upon his untimely death in 1959 from a heart attack.  As if all  of this is not enough, the featurette also delves into the history of Dragnet’s music, adding even more interest for audiences.  Add in brief discussions comparing the original Dragnet series to the 1987 movie in terms of dialogue and action, talks on the shows created through Webb’s Mark VIII Productions Studio and more, and the whole of this featurette strengthens the overall presentation of Dragnet’s even more.

The interview with co-star Alexandra Paul adds a little bit more to the experience.  She notes fondly her interactions with Hanks and Akroyd on-set, noting that both men were very wonderful figures.  She laughs happily as she recalls Akroyd’s gentlemanly nature both on and off-screen, and Hanks’ more happy-go-lucky yet professional manner.  It shows even more the distinctly different personalities that the actors brought to the set, and how it played into their on-screen chemistry.  Paul also offers an interesting note about her own innocence coming into the movie, and how that played into her portrayal of Connie that viewers will appreciate learning.  That revelation indeed succeeds in making for more appreciation for Paul’s acting.  Additionally, Paul also laughs as she recalls that prior to her interview, which was recorded especially for the movie’s Blu-ray re-issue, she had seen the movie only once prior to her review, and that was in its debut way back in 1987.  She never says if that avoidance of the movie was intentional, which in itself creates plenty of discussion.  When all of these discussions are considered along with the information shared in Dyball’s commentary and the information shared in the vintage featurette, it becomes fully evident why the bonus content included with Dragnet’s new Blu-ray re-issue is so important to the movie’s overall presentation.  It strengthens the Blu-ray’s presentation quite a bit.  The bonus material is not the last of the Blu-ray’s most important elements.  The movie’s average price point rounds out those elements.

The average price point of Dragnet’s new Blu-ray re-issue is $24.99.  that price is found using prices from Shout! Factory’s store, Amazon and Walmart.  The movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue is not listed at the sites of Target, Best Buy, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble at the time of this review.  Considering just the amount of entertainment and insight that audiences get just through the bonus material included in Dragnet’s new Blu-ray re-issue, that price point is relatively affordable.  It gives audiences almost three hours – if not more – of entertainment and engagement when considered along with all of the entertainment and insight offered through the movie itself.  When all of this is considered together, audiences will agree that the Blu-ray’s affordable pricing and the entertainment and engagement offered throughout this Blu-ray makes the package in whole one that classic movie buffs and Dragnet fans alike will agree is a wonderful new addition to Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series, and to any movie lover’s library.

Shout! Factory’s recent addition of Dragnet to its ongoing Shout! Select series is a wonderful new addition to that series.  Classic movie buffs and fans of the movie (and maybe even fans of the original TV and radio series) will agree to that, especially after watching the movie – some for the first time and others for the first time again.  The movie pays a great homage to its source material with its script and acting while the bonus content gives viewers even more to appreciate.  The average price point certainly will not break anyone’s bank, either.  Each item is important in its own right to the whole of Dragnet’s new Blu-ray presentation.  All things considered, they make this re-issue another welcome addition to Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series and to any viewer’s home movie library.  It is available now.  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

 

 

 

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Slayer Announces Dates For Final World Tour: Leg Five

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

Slayer’s worldwide farewell tour will officially run into summer 2019.

The band announced the dates for Leg Five of its final world tour on Monday.  Leg Five will bring the band back to North America for a series of dates through May, starting May 2 and running through May 25.  Lamb of God, Amon Amarth and Cannibal Corpse will serve as support for the tour.

The band’s new dates are noted below. The announcement follows the recent announcement of the sixth leg of the tour, which will take Slayer across Europe during June and July.  Those dates — and those of Leg Four — are included with the dates for Leg Five.

MARCH
Leg Four:  Australia Japan South Pacific
(Anthrax and Behemoth will support on headline dates) 

7   Brisbane Riverstage Brisbane Australia
9   Download Festival Sydney Australia
11  Download Festival Melbourne Australia
15  Eventfinda Stadium Auckland New Zealand
17  Horncastle Arena Christchurch New Zealand
21  Download Festival Chiba Prefecture Japan
23  Pulp Summer Slam Manila Philippines

MAY
Leg Five:  North America
(Lamb of God, Amon Amarth and Cannibal Corpse will support on all dates) 

2   Ak-Chin Amphitheatre Phoenix AZ
3   Isleta Amphitheatre Albuquerque NM
5   UTEP/Don Haskins Center El Paso TX
7   Bert Ogden Arena Edinburg TX
8   The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory Dallas TX
10  MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre Tampa FL
11  Coral Sky Amphitheatre West Palm Beach Florida
13  Big Sandy Superstore Arena Huntington WVa
14  Merriweasther Post Pavilion Columbia MD
16  Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center Noblesville IN
17  Providence Medical Center Amphitheatre Bonner Springs KS
19  DTE Energy Mush Center Clarkston MI
20  Covel Centre Youngstown OH
22  Canadian Tire Centre Ottawa ON  CANADA
24  BB&T Pavilion Camden NJ
25  Xfinity Center Mansfield MA

JUNE
Leg Six:  Europe(Support acts for headline dates TBA)

4  Arena Gilwice Gilwice Poland
6  Sweden Rock Solvesborg Sweden
8  Rock Am Ring Nurburgring Germany
9  Rock Im Park Nurnberg Germany
11  Sports Arena Budapest Hungary
13  Leipzig Arena Leipzig Germany
14  Nova Rock Nickelsdorf Austria
Weekend of June 14-16
Download Donington Park UK
19  Arena Geneva Switzerland
21  Graspop Metal Meeting Dessel Belgium
23  Hellfest Clisson France25  Tipsport Arena Prague Czechoslovakia
28  Tons of Rock Oslo Norway
29  Tuska Open Air Helsinki Finland

JULY 
July 3-6
Resurrection Festival Viviero Spain
5   VOA Heavy Rock Festival Lisbon Portugal
7   Rock The Castle Verona Italy
10  Metalheadmeeting Bucharest Romania
11  Airport Park Sofia Bulgaria
13  Rockwave Festival Athens Greece
Weekend of July 27-28*
Heavy Montreal Parc Jean-Drapeau Montreal QC

AUGUST  
3  Messegelande Balingen Germany

More information on Slayer’s final world tour is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://www.slayer.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Slayer

 

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.

Film Movement Classics’ New ‘Forever My Love’ Re-Issue Is Forever Forgettable

Courtesy: Film Movement/Film Movement Classics

Late last month, indie film studio Film Movement re-issued the classic 1962 romantic drama Forever My Love on DVD through its classic movies’ arm, Film Movement Classics.  Coming a little more than two years after its most recent re-issue (July 1, 2016) through Entertainment One, this latest re-issue builds on that release with the inclusion of a new pair of bonus features, which are both pro and con.  The fact that the movie’s footage looks exactly as it did in its original release overseas in 1962 is another item that those noted fans will appreciate about the movie’s presentation here.  For all of the positives noted, the movie is not without one clear negative, its very story.  Obviously fans of the movie will overlook this con, but general audiences who might not be familiar with the movie will find it reason enough to not watch the movie.  This will be discussed at more length later.  Keeping all of this in mind, Film Movement Classics’ recent re-issue of Forever My Love will appeal to the movie’s most devout audiences, but likely only those audiences.

Film Movement Classics’ recent re-issue of Paramount Pictures’ 1962 import Forever My Love is a work that is certain to appeal to the movie’s most devout audiences.  That is evidenced in part through the very look of the movie’s footage.  Almost 60 years have passed since the movie, which culls material from all three of star Romy Schneider’s Sissi movies, first premiered, and it has been barely touched, if at all, since that time.  All of the old scratches, the static and every other imperfection that makes classic films look so good are present from the movie’s beginning to its end.  This is especially important not just for those noted devotees of Forever My Love, but also for movie buffs and historians.  That is because of the sense of nostalgia that said look creates for audiences.  If it had been touched up more than it was (if it was touched up at all, again), it might not have had that impact.  Of course, this is all speculative, but it is clear that the look (and sound) of this presentation is the foundation of its presentation.  If for no other reason than that foundation, the movie is worth at least one watch, but sadly not much more.

While the look and sound of Forever My Love does plenty to appeal to the movie’s most devout audiences, the story does just as much to keep less devoted audiences from wanting to take in the movie more than once.  That is due at least in part to the roughly two-and-a-half hour movie’s writing.  There is no real script here, as the movie just cuts and splices bits and pieces of the Sissi trilogy into one long movie that basically outlines the couple’s life together.  The story makes virtually no attempt to grab audiences until the announcement that the Empress is suffering with tuberculosis (TB).  Up until that point, there is no real drama or element that will keep viewers engaged.  This leads the movie to otherwise just plod along from one point to the next throughout.  At least once that announcement is made, audiences have reason to become engaged.  Prior to that point, though, there is just nothing positive about the story.  Even more concerning is the fact that Princess Elisabeth is the Emperor’s cousin.  Given, many societies worldwide “kept it in the family” long ago because they thought it kept the bloodline pure.  However, in today’s age, audiences (and people in general) know the opposite to be true.  To that end, two cousins marrying and even having a child together just seems to be a bit unsettling for a story line.  Keeping all of this in mind, the writing (or lack thereof) detracts quite noticeably from the movie’s presentation, and reduces one’s desire to watch this movie more than once.  Of course while the movie’s writing is without argument, problematic for the movie’s new DVD presentation, the bonus material does help the movie’s presentation, at least in part.

The bonus material featured in this incarnation of Forever My Love helps the movie’s presentation at least a little bit thanks to the “From Romy To Sissi” featurette.  The 20-minute featurette features audio commentary from Schneider herself that follows the making of the second of the Sissi movies.  Audiences learn through the brief discussion that the mountain scenes in said movie were supposed to have taken place in summer, yet were shot during winter.  That explains the snow on the ground in the scenes featured in Forever My Love, as well as the fact that the Empress and Emperor were wearing thick, heavy clothes in said scenes.  Schneider also notes just as briefly – and with a laugh – that her real life brothers were on set during filming of another of the trilogy’s entries, and that they allegedly were troublemakers to a point.  That brief revelation will bring laughs from audiences.  Just as many laughs will come as Schneider reveals a note about one of the movies’ hunting scenes.  She reveals one figure behind the camera wanted to make certain that the scenes were done to certain specifications.  The light-hearted revelation is sure to put smiles on audiences’ faces.  Between these and other discussions raised in the featurette’s short run time, the whole of those discussions makes for its own interest for audiences.

While the disc’s main bonus featurette does plenty to engage and entertain audiences, the secondary featurette, “Sissi’s Great-Grandson At The Movies” does nothing to help that interest.  It is only a short segment from the bigger documentary Elisabeth: Enigma of an Empress, but paints quite a picture of that doc.  That is thank primarily to the general lack of any audio balance whatsoever throughout.  Between Schneider’s in-theatre discussions and his talks in his one-on-one interviews, the lack of a balance in the audio makes this brief segment completely unwatchable.  The interpreter’s overdubs are at the exact same level of the audio from Schneider’s great-grandson, creating its own cacophony.  The same can be said of the balance between the movie audio and the interpreter in the theater moments.  The whole is experience is simply unbearable on the ears.  If the rest of the doc is like this segment, then the doc in whole likely is just as unenjoyable.  When this is considered with the more positive of the DVD’s main bonus featurette, the issues raised by the movie’s writing and the positive of its production values, the whole of this latest re-issue of Forever My Love is sadly a presentation that will likely *ahem* be forever forgettable, even for the most devoted fans of the classic romantic drama.

Film Movement Classics’ recently released re-issue of Forever My Love is a disappointment for the classics arm of the indie film studio.  That is even with its positives.  The positives are not few, but not many, either.  Classic film buffs will appreciate that the movie is presented here with little to no touch-ups on the footage and sound.  They will also appreciate the brief behind-the-scenes featurette, which features Romy Schneider discussing work on the trilogy.  Sadly, those are its only positives.  The story, which splices together elements of the trilogy into one whole does little to engage audiences until late in the second act.  Add in the matter of the story centering on two cousins  marrying and having a child, and audiences have even less reason to watch.  The horrendous secondary “bonus” featurette, which features a brief dubbed discussion from Schneider’s great-grandson detracts from the viewing experience even more.  All things considered, this re-issue is one that is sadly, forever forgettable.  More information on this and other titles from Film Movement Classics is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.filmmovement.com/theatrical/classics

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Film_Movement

 

 

 

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Accept Debuts New ‘Symphonic Terror’ Trailer

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

Accept has released a new trailer promoting its forthcoming live recording.

The band debuted the trailer for its upcoming live recording Symphonic Terror on Thursday. The recording is scheduled to be released Nov. 23 via Nuclear Blast.  The trailer only runs 36-seconds in length, but gives a new visual and audio preview of the band’s new recording in that time.

Pre-orders for Symphonic Terror are open now. Symphonic Terror will be available on a variety of platforms, all of which are noted below.

Symphonic Terror – Live at Wacken 2017 will be available in the following formats:

  • BluRay+2 CD-DIGI
  • DVD+2 CD-DIGI
  • 2 CD-DIGI
  • 3 LP Box (black) incl. booklet, poster
  • 3 LP Box (gold) incl. booklet, poster // NB Mailorder exclusive
  • BluRay+DVD+2 CD-Earbook
  • BluRay+DVD+2 CD-Earbook + photo card (signed) // NB Mailorder exclusive

Accept guitarist and founding member Wolf Hoffman said in an interview, that the band is proud of its new recording.

“We are so glad we recorded this unique show,” Hoffman said.  “This very special concert at Wacken will always stay in our memories.”

He added that the band has already scheduled a handful of live dates for the new year, and that audiences have a lot to be excited about from the band in its upcoming dates.

“Those who couldn’t be there at Wacken have never seen Accept like this, but it’s definitely worth it.  On our last tour, I personally missed the orchestra in some songs.  What I can already say is this: There will be some visual and musical surprises on the Symphonic Terror tour that you wouldn’t exactly expect from Accept.  2019 will be exciting!”

The dates for the band’s upcoming tour are noted below.

ACCEPT live 2019:

31.01. – 04.02. USA     Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, FL – 70000 Tons of Metal

20.04. D – Wuppertal – Stadthalle
21.04. D – Leipzig – Haus Auensee
22.04. D – Hamburg – Mehr!Theater
23.04. D – Fürth – Stadthalle
25.05. D – Saarbrücken – Congresshalle
27.05. D – München – Circus Krone

Accept’s new trailer for Symphonic Terror is just the latest video that the band has released in anticipation of the recording’s release.  The band has also released full live clips of ‘Balls to the Wall,’ ‘Symphony No. 40‘ and ‘Breaker‘ to build anticipation for the recording’s release.

 

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

The band has also released ‘Balls to the Wall’ on a limited edition 10-inch vinyl pressing, with ‘Symphony No. 40’ as the vinyl’s b-side.  It can be purchased now digitally and physically.

More information on Symphonic Terror is available online now along with all of Accept’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://www.acceptworldwide.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/accepttheband

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Sir Reg’s Latest LP Will Appeal To ‘Underdogs’ Everywhere

Courtesy: Despotz Records

Celtic punk band Sir Reg released its fifth full-length studio recording late this past September.  The Swedish-based (yes, the band is in fact from Sweden, though its front man is originally from Ireland) band’s album The Underdogs is everything that fans of the Celtic-rock sound have come to expect from that world.  This applies both musically and lyrically throughout the course of the record’s 11-song, 33-minute body.  This is obvious right from the album’s outset in its title track, which will be discussed shortly.  ‘Fool (Fight Of Our Lives),’ which is the album’s lead single, is another example of what makes this record appealing for fans of the Celtic rock realm.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Stereotypical Drunken Feckin’ Irish Song’ is one more example of what makes this record well worth the listen among Celtic rock fans, and will be addressed a little later, too.  Between these noted songs and the other eight works not directly discussed here, the whole of this album proves to be just as enjoyable as anything already available from Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.

Sir Reg’s latest full-length studio recording The Underdogs is a 33-minute Celtic-rock record that is certain to appeal to fans of said genre, regardless of their familiarity with the Sweden-based outfit’s catalog.  It is a record that holds its own easily with anything currently available from Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly and other bands of that ilk.  That is evidenced in part through the album’s opener/title track.  ‘The Underdogs’ is a strong start for its namesake album in part due to its musical arrangement.  The song’s arrangement features an enjoyable and well-balanced hybrid of traditional Celtic instrumentation and modern punk rock elements for a whole that is infectious and certain to find a wide-ranging appeal.  The song’s lyrical content builds on the foundation formed through the song’s arrangement, making the song in whole that much more appealing.

Lyrically, the song is relatively straight forward.  As the title suggests, the lyrical theme centers on a group of people from whom no one expects anything; a group that in turn is that much more determined to prove everyone wrong.  As front man Brendan Sheehy sings in the song’s lead verse, “We’ve been slapped in the face/Told that we were no good/We never believed it/We fought like we should/They try and destroy you/Or make you bit small/But the spirit we have/Picks us up when we fall/We’ll follow you down to the black gates of hell/We’ll follow you all of the way/We’ll follow you down to the black gates of hell/We’re hoping and swearing you would stay/We’re the underdogs/Get out of our way/We’re the underdogs/We’re making you pay/We’re the underdogs and this is our game/We’re the underdogs.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “We’re coming to get you/Reclaim all that’s ours…Been kept down so long/Now it’s our time to sing… We’ll follow you down to the black gates of hell/We’ll follow you all of the way/We’ll follow you down to the black gates of hell/We’re hoping and swearing you would stay/We’re the underdogs/Get out of our way/We’re the underdogs/We’re making you pay/We’re the underdogs and this is our game/We’re the underdogs.”  There is a portion of that second verse that is slightly difficult to understand without a lyrics sheet that was not provided with the record, but even without that one small section, these two verses and choruses clearly exhibit that previously noted proud defiance, which is what punk rock is all about, after all.  This is a proudly defiant, fist-pumping anthem that is an ode to the downtrodden, and that will hopefully inspire those out there who themselves feel like underdogs.  When it is coupled with the song’s infectious musical arrangement, which is driven largely through its bass and drum lines, the whole is a strong start to The Underdogs, and just one clear example of what makes the album in whole such a widely appealing album.  It is just one of the songs featured in the album that serves to show why the LP has such a high level of appeal.  ‘FOOL (Fight Of Our Lives)’ is another example of what makes the album a strong offering from the band.

‘FOOL (Fight Of Our Lives),’ like ‘The Underdogs’ is another standout addition to The Underdogs partly because of its own musical arrangement.  While the arrangement is another familiar Celtic punk rock production, it can be said that it does not just rehash the arrangement presented in the album’s opener.  It cannot be ignored that the mandolin (or what sounds like a mandolin) line is closely similar, but overall, the arrangements are not mirror images of one another.  Keeping that in mind, the rest of the arrangement creates an identity in and of itself for this opus that once again balances the group’s Celtic and punk elements.  The result of all of this is a work whose appeal is just as far-reaching as that of the album’s title track.  The song’s musical arrangement is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical theme does just as much to keep listeners engaged and entertained as its musical side.

Sheehy explained in an interview about the song that it centers, lyrically, on overcoming the adversities in life that can, and so often do, work to bring us down.  He said of that song that it “is about pulling yourself back from the brink, the minute you feel all hope is lost.  Nothing and nobody can stand in your way when you decide to go grab your hopes and dreams, and achieve everything you believe is rightfully yours.”  That statement is illustrated well as Sheehy sings, “He stands in the window/Looks down on the street/the world passed him by/the wind on his sleeve/He feels he’s forgotten/The good things, the highs/Get down from the ledge, and we’ll give them the fight of their lives/Yes, we’ve all gone insane and the rich run the world…When we all say we’re going to win/Don’t you know we don’t talk through our a****/When we get there, we’ll rip down the door.”  Again, Sheehy’s pure Irish accent makes translation a bit difficult through the rest of the song without a lyrics sheet.  Even with that in mind, the translation that is possible again illustrates Sheehy’s statement quite well.  This is another proudly defiant song that continues the album’s central theme of what Sheehy called “The struggles of the ordinary men and women, to make to make their voice heard and their opinions count, whilst not losing their spirit and ability to enjoy the simpler things in life, like hanging out with their friends at their favorite bar on a Saturday night.”  When this is considered in examining the album’s opener, it rings just as true there, too.  Getting back to going out on a Saturday night to drink at a bar, Sir Reg touches on that in this record, too in the form of ‘Stereotypical Drunken Feckin’ Irish Song.’

‘Stereotypical Drunken Feckin’ Irish Song’ is, musically speaking, another work that will immediately appeal to fans of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.  Every measure of the song’s arrangement and every element bears a strong similarity to those bands’ more light hearted works.  It is just as edgy lyrically as anything that DKM has ever crafted, too.  Sheehy sings, “He said he was from Dublin towne/The fella, he was lyin’/Singin’ about some Irish girl/A love that wasn’t dyin’/Could tell a mile away…so I smacked him right across the chin of course/Sure the ladies were impressed with him/They thought he was a riot…To impersonate an Irish man…is not an honorable art…”  He and his band mates go on to sing in the song’s chorus, “Here’s a stereotypical drunken feckin’ Irish song/Stick a shamrock up your a** and drink a toast/Sing a stereotypical drunken feckin’ Irish song till the whiskey, beer and gin runs out your hole.”  Little, if any more needs be referenced here.  From here on out, the rest of the song is just a feel-good song that celebrates drinking with one’s friends and being with one’s friends in general.  It is, in this critic’s ears, one of the album’s best moments, if not its best.  When it is considered along with the positive messages and musical content in the previously discussed works, all three songs collectively paint a vivid picture of The Underdogs’ positives.  When they are considered along with the rest of the songs not directly discussed here, the whole of the album’s 11 songs becomes an album that is a fun new offering from Sir Reg and a work that is certain to have a wide appeal among Celtic music fans.

Sir Reg’s fifth full-length studio recording The Underdogs is a strong new offering from the Swedish (yes, Swedish) Celtic punk outfit.  That is clear through an examination of the songs noted here.  Their infectious, upbeat musical arrangements will easily appeal to any fan of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.  Its lyrical themes, which center on the trials and tribulations of the world’s working men and women are certain to add even more appeal for audiences.  This applies even in the songs not discussed here.  All thing considered, the album in whole proves to be an offering that Celtic rock, and even Celtic music, fans will appreciate.  It is available now.  More information on The Underdogs is available now online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.sirregband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sirregband

 

 

 

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.

The Not-Its’ Success Continues On Its Eighth LP, ‘Ready Or Not’

Courtesy: Burnside Distribution/Sugar Mountain PR

The Not-Its are at it again.  The veteran kindie-rock act released its latest full-length studio recording Ready Or Not late this past September, and the 12-song, 36-minute album another entertaining new offering from the Seattle, WA-based band.  That is because overall, the album is a celebration of the innocence of childhood, with the highs of childhood and the lows.  The end result is a work that is without argument, another welcome offering from the group.  The album’s opener and title track is just one of the songs that serves to support that statement.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘The Battle of Curriculum Night’ is another important addition to the album that cannot be ignored.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Runaway Bike’ is yet another work that shows what makes Ready Or Not another positive effort from The Not-Its.  It will also be discussed a little later.  Of course, it is not the last of the songs that show what makes Ready Or Not so enjoyable.  Any of the album’s remaining eight songs can be used just as easily as the songs noted here, to exhibit the album’s strengths.  Between those songs not noted here and the songs more directly discussed, the whole of Ready or Not proves to be not only another welcome offering from The Not-Its, but another welcome offering that is also among the year’s top new family music albums.

The Not-Its’ latest full-length studio recording Ready Or Not – its eighth – is another welcome offering from the veteran kindie-rock quintet that is also without argument one of the year’s top new family music albums.  That is proven in part through the album’s opener/title track.  The song’s “poppy” upbeat guitar-driven musical arrangement is an infectious indie-rock type of opus that wastes no time getting stuck in listeners’ ears and minds.  That includes not just children, but grown-ups, too.  Drummer Michael Welke’s work, pushing the 16th notes on the hi-hat couples with the guitars to keep the song moving forward.  This critic’s own view of the work (being a drummer/percussionist, too) is that using eighth notes on the hi-hat would have been just as good as 16ths thanks to the song’s fast-moving 4/4 time signature.  Either way, it still works.  That high-energy arrangement compliments the energy exuded in a game of Hide-and-Seek.

The lyrical side of ‘Ready Or Not’ couples with that well-thought-out arrangement to make the song stand out even more.  Front woman Sarah Shannon steps back on this work, letting her band mates – Danny Adamson (rhythm guitar/vocals), Tom Baisden (lead guitar/vocals), Jennie Helman (bass/vocals) and the previously discussed Welke – take the lead here.  The band illustrates the joys of a game of Hide-and-Seek expertly, singing, “Are you ready or not/’Cause here I come/Gonna find you/You can’t hide all day/Did you think that you could pull a fast one on me/Like you did when we were 3/Uh-oh/So let’s go/The game is on.”  One can almost see a group of young children, going back and forth with one another here, smiles bright on their faces.  Again, going back to the song’s arrangement, that musical side couples with this almost celebratory lyrical content to start the song on the highest note possible.  The group goes on to sing, “Are you ready to get caught/’Cause here I come/I see you hiding in the closet, yeah-yeah/Did you think I wouldn’t see your feet/I even heard you try to hold in a sneeze/Now you’re it/You’re it/The game is on!”  Again , here is that clear joy and innocence of childhood.  It is something to which listeners of every age can relate.  Children will relate because they enjoy that play and innocence every day.  Adults will relate as it will take them back to those days of innocence and joy.  Through it all, it will put a smile on every listener’s face.  That is even more the case when the lyrical content is coupled with that catchy, indie-pop rock arrangement.  All things considered, it makes the song a clear example of what makes Ready Or Not another welcome offering from The Not-Its.  It is just one of the songs that supports that statement.  ‘The Battle of Curriculum Night’ is another work that shows what makes Ready or Not so enjoyable.

‘The Battle of Curriculum Night’ stands out primarily because of its lyrical content.  The song takes on a “battle” about which every parent knows – the battle of funding for America’s public schools.  The band notes in the song’s lyrical side, “Budget cuts seem to be driving my parents nuts/My school is over-enrolled without enough teachers to go around/Thirty-three students, all in the same class as me/The principal gathers us in the gym/the moms and dads, their arms crossed/Faces turning red/I think there’s gonna be a fight at curriculum night/Try to work it out, but the budget is tight/There’s gonna ba a fight at curriculum night, yeah!”  From there, the song continues vividly painting that picture in which every parent has taken part, noting “It’s such a crazy day/Every single person has something to say/The tension is rising, and no one can hear each other anyway/Everyone is there/Grown-ups squeezing into tiny chairs/The teacher seems nervous/Handing out packets to be scrutinized/Parents glare/Don’t see my kid’s artwork anywhere/Don’t you know how gifted they are?”  What’s really interesting here is the fact that this whole song is told from the vantage point of a child.  This shows on one end that children are far more aware of what is going on than that for which adults give them credit.  On another end, presenting the song from a child’s eye also gives a clearer view, showing just how volatile those school meetings can and do get.  Add in the fact that few, if any, other family music acts have ever tackled the issue of public school funding – let alone in such a fun fashion – and the song becomes even more important an addition to this album.

While the lyrical content presented in this song is obviously important to the song’s whole, it is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its musical arrangement adds to its enjoyment.  Many listeners might not be familiar with the reference, but the song’s mid-tempo arrangement here conjures thoughts of Dinosaur Jr’s classic hit ‘Feel The Pain.’  Given, that song is not as upbeat as this one, but stylistically speaking, the similarity is there, and it is sure to be a welcome comparison for grown-up listeners who are familiar with the band and its work.  Considering this along with the thought-provoking lyrical content in this song, the whole is yet another clear example of what makes Ready Or Not another positive effort from The Not-Its.  It is not the last example of what makes this record either, just as the album’s opener/title track was not the only example either.  ‘Runaway Bike,’ which comes a little later on in the album’s run, is one more example of what makes the album stand out.

‘Runaway Bike’ stands out in part because of its musical arrangement.  Much like the arrangements in the previously discussed works, this upbeat work’s bass and guitar-driven arrangement is very clearly an indie-rock style presentation that is sure to appeal to older audiences of said genre.  Its lyrical content is just as interesting as that catchy arrangement.  That is because it is wide open to interpretation.  Shannon sings here of a child who is sitting on his/her bike in the driveway of his/her home, imagining what it would be like to go off on a journey around the world.  What is so interesting about this is the manner in which this story is presented.  On one hand, the song leaves one wondering if this is supposed to be a child imagining running away, which after all, what child has not done this after an argument with his/her parents?  On another hand, it could just as easily be a song about a child simply dreaming of that great voyage, instead of the thought of running away.  The interpretations are made as Shannon sings from the child’s vantage point, “Get on my bike and ride/I’ll go it alone/And by tomorrow I might reach the state line/I’m leaving home/I don’t know why/Now that I’ve left the state I’m in Idaho/My next destination is the Atlantic Coast Line/Runaway Bike, let’s ride.”  The single line in which she sings, “I’m leaving home/I don’t know why” is one of the reasons that the interpretation of the song’s story is wide open.  Such a statement leaves one wondering if this is perhaps just a young person having that familiar dream of going out into the world.  Shannon goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “I’m standing on the beach/In search of a boat heading to Europe/With room for me and my bike/Starting to miss my old life/Landed in Portugal/I pedaled my way to Prague/Now I’m in China-I can see the Great Wall/Runaway Bike go home/I’m a little runaway.”  The song closes with its subject opening his/her eyes after seeing the visions in his/her head of those travels, realizing he/she not run away.”  So again, the interpretation is left up in the air.  Is this a child dreaming of running away, having noted that he/she would miss home and his/her family?  Is it the story of a child simply dreaming of going out and exploring the world?  It would be interesting to discover which story was being told here.  Either way, the fact that the song can be interpreted in either way because of the band’s talent with words here, shows such talent and obvious thought put into the work.  When this talent is considered along with the enjoyment of the song’s musical arrangement, the two elements together make this song one more example of what makes Ready Or Not another enjoyable offering from The Not-Its.  When it is considered along with the other songs discussed here, and the rest of the album’s works, the album in whole proves to be a work that is a positive new offering from the group, and without argument, one of the year’s top new family music albums.

The Not-Its’ latest full-length studio recording Ready Or Not is another strong, welcome offering from the Seattle, WA-based kindie rock band.  It is a record that is without argument, one of the year’s top new family music albums.  That is proven through the songs noted in this review and those not directly discussed.  The songs, in whole, present an album that celebrates the innocence of childhood, in all of its highs and lows.  It is a work to which children and grown-ups alike can and will relate through that celebration.  It is available now.  More information on Ready Or Not is available online now along with all of The Not-Its’ latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.wearethenot-its.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/The_Not_Its

 

 

 

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.

Eagle Rock’s New Joni Mitchell Concert/Doc Is An Engaging New Profile Of The Veteran Singer-Songwriter

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Famed singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell marked a major milestone this week as she marked her 75th birthday, and she celebrated in style with a star-studded event to mark the occasion.  Thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, fans of the veteran singer-songwriter can celebrate Mitchell and her legacy in their own way with a recently released live recording.  Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is a memorable presentation that Mitchell’s most devoted audiences will appreciate.  That is due in part to the recording’s set list.  This will be discussed shortly.  The documentary film that is woven into the concert adds just as much interest for audiences as the set list.  It will be discussed a little bit later.  The recording’s average price point rounds out is most important elements, and will also be discussed later.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.  All things considered, they make this recording a piece that will appeal largely to the most devout fans of Mitchell and her work.

Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is an interesting presentation from Eagle Rock Entertainment and veteran singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.  That is because the recording, released Sept. 14 via Eagle Rock Entertainment, presents a very interesting portrait of the then very young and still up-and-coming performer.  At the time of her performance, Mitchell had only released four full-length studio recordings – Song to a Seagull (1968), Clouds (1969), Ladies of the Canyon (1970) and Blue (1971) – making her still a very young performer, despite her experience.  Her 11-song set list featured in this performance lifts liberally from the latter trio of albums.  Clouds gets four nods while Ladies of the Canyon and Blue each get three nods.  ‘Hunter,’ which apparently was a b-side from Blue that never made the album’s final cut, is also included in here.  Interestingly enough, her 1968 debut record Song to a Seagull is nowhere to be seen in this set list.  Either way, audiences at the time still got a relatively well-balanced representation of her catalog at that point due to that clear focus that was put on the set list.  What’s more, a whole new generation of audiences now get a glimpse into who Joni Mitchell was at that time thanks to this new recording.  To that end, the set list proves itself to be a critical part of the recording’s whole.  It is just one of the important pieces of the presentation’s whole.  The documentary that is interwoven into the concert adds even more interest to the recording’s overall presentation.

The documentary that is coupled with Mitchell’s performance is important to note because it is really a dual story line of sorts.  On one side, the story shows Mitchell growing both as a person and as an artist, as she is forced to face a crowd that was not expecting her so early; a crowd that was likely expecting a more lively act than her.  Over the course of her rescheduled performance, audiences see the crowd slowly turn and accept her, almost making her an underdog figure of sorts.  Mitchell’s interviews, originally recorded in 2003, add their own depth to this story, making her even more of an endearing figure.

The other story included in the documentary is that of the unrest throughout the festival.  Audiences are introduced to a group of people within the audience that was protesting the festival and its managers.  That is because they were not being allowed inside the venue.  That led to some unexpected moments in which some of those protestors actually made their way on stage to make their protests heard loud and clear.  Simply put, the protestors were people who were a little bit too enthusiastic about the festival. Interestingly enough, this ties back into Mitchell’s story because it was her performance and her music that seemed to help quell the problems with the protestors.  That ability to calm the crowd – and win over the audience in the process – helped her overcome the nerves that she noted having in her 2003 interview segments.  The result is a performance that audiences will agree improved with each song.  Keeping all of this in mind, the combined performance and documentary presentation of Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 makes for a work that Mitchell’s most devoted audiences will appreciate just as much as those perhaps less familiar with her and her work.  Staying on that note, the Blu-ray offers audiences the choice to watch the concert by itself and to watch it coupled with the doc.  This critic’s own interpretation is to watch the two presentations as one.  It makes for a much richer experience than watching the concert by itself.  Having noted all of this, the content that makes up the whole of Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight gives audiences plenty to appreciate here.  Even with that in mind, there is still one more item for audiences to appreciate.  That item is the Blu-ray’s average price point.

Using prices listed at Amazon, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble, the set’s average price point comes to $18.79.  Research on the set finds that it is not listed at the websites of Walmart, Target or at Books-A-Million.  Considering the depth of the recording’s overall presentation and the pacing of the more than two-hour program (the exact run time is listed at two hours, 12 minutes), that average price of less than $20 is relatively affordable and money well-spent.  When this is all considered together, it makes Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 another positive offering from Eagle Rock Entertainment, and one that any of Joni Mitchell’s fans will appreciate.

Both Sides Now:  Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is a good addition to the collections of Joni Mitchell’s most devoted fans.  It is also a welcome watch for today’s younger audiences who might be getting their first taste of the veteran singer-songwriter.  As noted above, that is due in part to the recording’s set list.  It shows Mitchell at a point in which she was growing in popularity, but still young enough that she was showing her personal and artistic development.  The documentary that is tied into the doc adds to that story while also presenting an equally interesting story about the festival itself.  The Blu-ray’s average price point is relatively affordable.  When it is considered along with the recording’s overall content, it proves the Blu-ray to be money well-spent, and a recording that, again, Mitchell’s most devoted audiences will appreciate as much as a whole new generation of audiences.  Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is available now.  More information on this recording is available online along with all of Joni Mitchell’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://jonimitchell.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/JoniMitchellcom

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

 

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.