The First Season Of “All Creatures Great & Small’s” Reboot Is A Surprisingly “Great” Presentation

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/Channel 5/Screen Yorkshire/Playground/all3 media

Reboots have become in recent years, an all too common thing in television.  Paramount is rebooting Rugrats, NBC tried (and failed) with its reboot of Will & Grace, as did CBS with its reboot of Murphy Brown.  There are even so many game shows getting rebooted over on ABC, and none are nearly as entertaining and engaging as the original series.  So when it was announced that the British drama All Creatures Great & Small was getting the reboot treatment on Britain’s Viacom-owned Channel 5 last year, there was good reason for audiences to be tense.  The original series, which also aired on Channel 5 from 1978 – ’80 and again from 1988 – ’90, offered so much for audiences to enjoy, so needless to say the  bar was already set high, considering the simplicity, heart and warmth of the original series.  Now with the release of the rebooted series’ lead season available on DVD (it was released Feb. 9 on DVD), it can be said that this show is one of the very rare exceptions to the rule of reboots being less than their source material.  Rather, this update on the original series is just as enjoyable as the original show.  That is proven in part through the stories, which will be discussed shortly.  The presentation thereof plays its own subtle but important part to this presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The work of the show’s cast also does its own share to engage and entertain audiences.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the first season of All Creatures Great & Small’s reboot.  All things considered, they make the lead season’s presentation one that makes this reboot stand out in the best way from so many other reboots being churned out on either side of the Atlantic.

Channel 5’s reboot of All Creatures Great & Small is a surprisingly entertaining and engaging presentation in its debut season, considering that it is, again, a reboot.  One of the items that makes this reboot shine in its lead season is its stories.  Given, the stories are loosely connected to the semi-autobiographical stories by James Herriot and just as loosely connected with the stories featured in the original series.  That aside, the stories bear so much heart and warmth from one to the next as they expertly balance drama and comedy alike for a fully immersive whole.  One episode that exemplifies the show’s powerful dramatic element finds James (Nicholas Ralph) facing the consequences of having to euthanize a horse that was suffering internally.  It would have been so easy for the show’s creative heads to go and make this moment early in Herriot’s career way schmaltzier than it needed to be.  That’s something that producers of any American drama might do with such a show, but thankfully was not allowed to happen here.  The way in which the story was handled, with James eventually gaining Siegfried’s (Samuel West) trust and  even respect, but still beating himself up, is so moving because of the control on all aspects therein.  That is also attributed to the work of the cast, which will be discussed later.  The result of that overall control is that said story becomes one of the series’ most moving and powerful moments in this its debut season.

By contrast, the story that finds James having to take part in the Dales’ annual fair balances drama and comedy together.  This story has equal parts drama and comedy as Siegfried, Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley), and Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) make a bet as to how long James will last at the fair before he finally snaps.  That these otherwise prim and proper types were gambling, and on the fate of their own friend no less, makes for so much laughter.  James’ own struggles to handle all of the pressure make for their own lighthearted moments, too.  It really serves to bring out that Buster Keaton type persona that Nicholas Ralph presents throughout the season. This will be discussed later.  Alongside with all of the laughs is James’ own inner struggle with having to decide whether to keep a secret involving a bull’s potency or lack thereof.  It is a simple matter, but the manner in which the show’s writers handled this story crates real engaging drama and ensures viewers’ engagement in its own way. That balance of lightheartedness and seriousness makes this story another memorable addition to this season.  It shows in its own right, what makes the show’s stories so important in its debut season.

Another story that shows the importance of the stories in this reboot actually stretches throughout the show’s debut season.  The story in question is that of Tristan’s personal growth.  He starts out as an indignant, snotty brat, but as his time at his brother’s office continues, audiences see him grow as a person.  It would have been easy in this case, to have just left Tristan a static character.  Thankfully that did not happen. His growth leads to scenes throughout that will lead to awe and laughter throughout.  The balance of dramatic chops and physical comedy that Woodhouse incorporates into his character as Tristan changes does so much to entertain audiences, too.  It is yet another example of how the stories featured in this season make it so appealing.  When these stories are considered along with the story of James’ romance with Helen (Rachel Shenton), James’ efforts to save a cow’s life, his near fatal mistake with another cow’s diagnosis, and even the powerful holiday-themed story that serves as the season finale, that whole makes clear why the stories featured in the first season of All Creatures Great & Small’s reboot surprisingly entertaining.  The manner in which the stories are presented here couples with the stories themselves to make for even more appeal.

The manner in which the stories are presented in the first season of All Creatures Great & Small’s reboot is important because by and large, it breaks from the norm of so much of today’s television.  The stories are presented as standalone works rather than as part of some serialized presentation.  Yes, there is a serial type aspect to the show in terms of the character development, but that is where that element stops.  This means that for the most part, audiences do not have to feel like they have to invest themselves in the show but so much.  In an age when far too much programming (on either side of the Atlantic) has become serialized, it is nice to return to a simple brand of programming if only for once.  Keeping that in mind, audiences who, like this critic, are beyond sick and tired of serialized shows will openly welcome this once familiar brand of story telling, making for even more appeal here.  This aspect is just one more that makes this season so enjoyable.  The cast’s work on camera puts the finishing touch to the presentation.

The work of All Creatures Great & Small is important to discuss because of the engagement and entertainment that it ensures.  As noted previously, newcomer Nicholas Ralph’s take on James gives James a new sort of identity this time out.  Not only does Ralph look somewhat like silent film legend Buster Keaton with his often stone-face emoting, but the personality that Ralph brings to James has that same sort of character type to the role.  That type in question is the innocent, underdog figure.  Whether Ralph set out to emulate Keaton is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, it makes Ralph’s performance and James that much more endearing and enjoyable.

Ralph is just one of the cast members, whose work on camera deserves attention and credit here.  Samuel West’s performance as Siegfried is entertaining in its own right.  Watching West develop Siegfried’s persona from the gruff, eccentric figure that he was in the season’s premiere to the more vulnerable, open type that he became by the season’s end is just as enjoyable as watching any of his cast mates.  West is fully believable in the role, and just as entertaining because viewers never know which side of Siegfried that they would see from one episode to the next.  The way in which West plays his character alongside/against Ralph’s own performance adds even more to each actor’s portrayal.  It shows there must have been some real chemistry between the pair off camera and on.

Much the same said of Ralph and West in regards to their performances can also be said of Callum Woodhouse’s presentation of Tristan.  At first, his take on Tristan’s snotty, arrogant behavior makes it so easy for audiences to dislike Tristan and write him off as just an antagonist to James (and even his own brother to a lesser extent).  However, as the season progresses, Woodhouse shows just as well, Tristan’s gradual desire to grow and become a better person.  The result is that audiences will find themselves surprised at their desire to actually pull for Tristan.  The reason being, that he manages to make Tristan a reflection of audiences.  He mirrors that desire that audiences have to better themselves because they know they, too, are imperfect.  Woodhouse’s clear understanding of that concept makes his portrayal just as strong as any other this season, and certainly not the last.  The one and only Anna Madeley is just as entertaining as her cast mates.

Madeley, who takes on the role of Mrs. Hall this time out, is the closest thing to a matriarch at Siegfried’s office.  She plays friend/confidant to Siegfried while taking on the part of a motherly figure to James and Tristan.  Her ability to be gentile with those two at times and firmer at others gives just the right balance of care and concern while also treating them as the adults that they are.  At the same time, the vulnerability that she allows Siegfried to see shows her softer side in a completely different fashion.  That is just a part of what audiences will enjoy watching from her.  There is a scene at the fair in which she silently but firmly goes toe to toe with a crooked carny who took a young girl’s money.  Her fortitude in that moment against the carny makes for another great performance on her part.  All things considered here, Madeley makes Hall just as great and beloved in this season of the show’s reboot as do her cast mates make their characters.  That is, again, the way in which she interprets each scene and Hall’s role in each circumstance.  That talent makes Hall unquestionably just as important to this show as her fellow characters.  Keeping that in mind, when Madeley’s performance is considered along with those of her cast mates, the result is performance after performance that fully immerses audiences into each story.  That immersion in turn results in appreciation for the stories and their own presentation style.  Keeping all of this in mind, there is no question in the end that all things considered, the lead season of Channel 5’s reboot of All Creatures Great & Small is a surprisingly entertaining presentation, especially being a reboot.

British network Channel 5’s reboot of the classic series All Creatures Great & Small is a surprisingly enjoyable new take on that original series.  It truly stands out among all of the otherwise forgettable reboots that have and do pollute the airwaves and ISPs.  That says a lot in itself.  Part of the reason that it stands out is its stories.  The stories, while loosely based on James Herriot’s books and the original series’ episodes at best, they are still enjoyable works that boast so much heart and depth.  The dramatic plot elements never get too extreme while the comedic elements get just enough time of their own.  At the same time, that the stories once again focus on James’ development at Siegfried’s office adds even more appeal to this aspect.  The fact that the stories are presented more as standalone stories than serial style tales makes for even more engagement and entertainment.  The work of the show’s cast within each episode puts the finishing touch to the whole.  When all three elements are considered together, they make Channel 5’s reboot of All Creatures Great & Small a rare exception to the rule of so many reboots being unnecessary and lacking in any entertainment and engagement.  They make this first season of the series’ reboot a surprisingly “great” presentation.  All Creatures Great & Small: Season 1 is available now.  More information on the series and other shows from Channel 5 is available online at:




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U.D.O.’s Latest Live Recording Is Entertaining, But Imperfect

Courtesy: AFM Records

U.D.O. did something last year that few if any bands around the world did. It held a live, in person concert. That concert, held in Bulgaria, became the band’s forthcoming live DVD, Live in Bulgaria: Pandemic Survival Show.  According to information provided about the concert and its resultant recording, the show “happened in full compliance with the corona virus hygiene regiment” and “is by far one of the largest to happen worldwide during the pandemic” though “Up until a few days before the concert in Plovdiv, it was not clear whether it could take place at all.”  To that end, the fact that it happened at all is a welcome miracle.  While the concert itself does offer engagement and entertainment, it is not a perfect presentation.  The one downside to this special occasion is its set list.  This element will be discussed later.  Luckily it is not enough to doom the recording.  The band’s performance makes for most of the recording’s enjoyment.  It will be discussed shortly.  The concert’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Together with the band’s performance, the two elements pair to make this recording worth watching at least occasionally (even with the issues raised by the set list).

U.D.O.’s forthcoming live recording Live in Bulgaria: Pandemic Survival Show is an interesting presentation from the veteran hard rock band.  The band’s seventh live recording is at least somewhat entertaining.  Most of the concert’s entertainment and engagement comes from the band’s performance at the famed “Ancient Theater.”  The band’s performance is minimalist in almost every sense of the word.  There is no pyro, There are no special effects in terms of video monitors, etc.  Rather the band presents itself just performing 22 songs from U.D.O’s own catalog and that of Accept, the former band of front man and U.D.O. namesake Udo Dirkschneider.  The special effects are limited to flashing and color-changing lights.  The rest of the show is left up to the band – Dirkschneider (vocals), Andrey Smirnov (guitar), Dee Dammers (guitar), Sven   Dirkschneider  (drums), and Tilen  Hudrap (bass).  There’s no running around stage for the elder Dirkschneider, but even considering that he still belts out every song with the power of a front man half his age.  What’s more audiences will love the way he openly steps back throughout the concert, and lets Smirnov and Dammers take center stage.  At times, it even looks like he’s acting as a cheerleader for the highly polished musicians as they take the spotlight.  Speaking of that duo, Smirnov and Dammers show at times, such focus on their parts, and so much fun at others.  That mix of concentration and lightheartedness will itself pull audiences in even more.  Meantime, the younger Dirkschneider looks so relaxed throughout the near 150-minute concert as he keeps time in the up-tempo and even slower moments.  That confidence and relaxed nature does not go unnoticed, and will certainly add to audiences’ enjoyment.  That is because his band mates obviously feed off of his energy.   Much the same can be said of Hudrap and his performance.  All in all, the performance that the band presents in this concert makes for plenty of enjoyment in itself.  It does plenty to make the concert worth viewing and/or hearing (since the recording is presented on separate CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray platforms).  While the band’s performance forms a solid foundation for the recording, the set list that the band presents detracts from the concert’s presentation to a certain point.

The set list that is featured in Live in Bulgaria: Pandemic Survival Show is limited in its presentation.  While it runs approximately 22 songs deep (not counting the separate drum and bass solos), the songs are pulled from approximately six of the band’s 17 total albums and from three Accept albums.  What’s more the set list leans heavily on U.D.O.’s 2018 album Steelfactory, with six of its songs featured here.  Meanwhile, Animal House U.D.O.’s debut 1987 record, gets three nods.  The other U.D.O. albums represented here are: Mastercutor (2007), Timebomb (1991), Solid (1997), Man and Machine (2002), and Rev-Raptor (2011).  That leaves approximately 11 other albums from U.D.O. unrepresented here.  Again considering that the concert reaches almost two-and-a-half hours in time, one would have thought that the band would have tried to pull more from those albums.  The Accept albums represented here are:  Balls to the Wall (1983), Restless & Wild (1982), and Metal Heart (1985).  The band limited the Accept representations to two songs from Restless & Wild, two from Metal Heart, and the one lone song from Balls to the Wall.  Clearly the Accept songs and albums were from Dirkschneider’s brief time with the band, so that is understandable. That leads back to the discussion on the rest of the set list.  Considering that it was unknown if the concert would even happen, one would have thought the band would have tried to give audiences even more of its catalog in order to make the experience even more special.  Instead, audiences essentially got a continued performance in support of its now three year-old album Steelfactory and a handful of other songs from the band’s catalog.  It does leave one wanting for more, but not in a good way.  Thankfully, this one concern is not enough to doom the recording, as much as it does detract from the experience.  The concert’s production works with the band’s performance to put the finishing touch.   That includes those who handled production in post.

Thanks to the concert’s production, those who can and do overlook the concerns raised by the concert’s limited set list will agree that they get the best seat in the house.  The audio is expertly balanced throughout the concert.  Believe it or not, this actually is a concern with some concert recordings out there.  There are live recordings out there that force listeners to constantly adjust the volumes on their televisions and computers,  leading to frustrations among audiences.  There are even some recordings that clearly — for one reason or another – use the audio to favor certain members of given groups or others.  Thankfully, this recording’s production does not fall victim to those trappings.  Those responsible for balancing the audio on-site and in post are to be commended for their work.  In the same vein, the camera work makes the experience personal for audiences.  Viewers are taken right up alongside the younger Dirkshneider at times, right to front and center as Smirnov and Dammers take on the classic arena rock, dual guitar poses at other moments, and even right into the audience at still others.  The transitions from shot to shot do so well to immerse audiences into the concert, which is its own compliment to those responsible for the production.  Those responsible for editing the various shots together and even the director deserve their own credit for their work here,   too.  No one shot is too long or even too short.  It all serves to really heighten the energy in each song, and in turn make the performance all the more enjoyable.  When that enjoyment brought on by the production (video and audio) is considered along with the band’s performance, that collective makes the concert experience that much more enjoyable for audiences.  To that end, audiences will find the recording worth watching at least occasionally, considering all of that along with the concerns raised by the limited set list.

U.D.O.’s new forthcoming live recording Live in Bulgaria: Pandemic Survival Show is a presentation that while enjoyable, comes up somewhat short of expectations.  The band’s performance herein is itself fully engaging and entertaining.  It gives audiences plenty of reason to take in the concert.  While the band’s performance makes the concert experience enjoyable, the set list detracts from the enjoyment created by the band.  That is because it is so limited, even running 22 songs deep.  It pulls from six of the band’s approximately 17 albums, as well as a trio of albums from Udo Dirkschneider’s former band, Accept.  That leaves 11 of U.D.O.’s albums unrepresented here, so it would not be correct to call this concert – which could have been the band’s last for the foreseeable future – career-spanning.  It really does detract from the experience, but does not doom the presentation.  Making up for the negative that is the set list is the production.  The concert’s production gives audiences the best seat in the house.  That includes the work put in during post production.  The audio is expertly balanced while the video fully immerses audiences what with the various shots and their equally well-balanced editing.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make the recording a presentation that while not the band’s best live recording, still worth watching at least occasionally.  Live in Bulgaria: Pandemic Survival Show is scheduled for release Friday through AFM Records.

More information on Live in Bulgaria: Pandemic Survival is available along with all of U.D.O.’s latest news at:



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Rhino, Warner Records’ Black Sabbath Re-issues Are Mostly Successful Presentations

Courtesy: Rhino Records/Warner Records

It goes without saying that Black Sabbath is one of the most important and influential bands in the modern history of music.  The same can be said easily of its second front man, Ronnie James Dio.  The two sides came together to craft only three albums – Heaven and Hell (1980), Mob Rules (1981), and Dehumanizer (1992) – amid their tumultuous relationship.  Now thanks to Rhino Records and Warner Records, the first two of those three records are newly available.  Released Friday through Rhino Records and Warner Records, the re-issues will find appeal among audiences, though are imperfect.  The imperfection comes from concerns raised through the incongruence of the bonus content between the re-issues’ platforms.  This will be discussed a little later.  The re-issues’ most important positive comes in the form of their liner notes.  They will be discussed shortly.  That the re-issues are available on two platforms each is its own important element that will be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the re-issues’ presentations.  All things considered, they make the re-issues mostly positive additions to any hard rock and Black Sabbath fan’s library.

Rhino Records and Warner Records’ new re-issues of Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules are interesting new presentations of the iconic albums.  The records’ re-issues stand out positively in large part due to their liner notes.  The liner notes featured in the Heaven and Hell re-issue were crafted by Rolling Stone magazine writer Kory Grow and artist Lynn Curlee, who created the album’s original cover art.  The duo’s notes create a solid framework for the record.  One of the most interesting items that Grow points out in his notes is that apparently, Ronnie James Dio was not immediately on board when the vocalist opening came up with Black Sabbath.  Grow cites comments from Dio’s wife Wendy, writing that she said of this item, “When Ronnie went into Sabbath, I don’t think he was elated about the job at first…he was more of a melodic  singer and writer.”  Grow goes on to note that Dio eventually found his place within the band.  This is information that audiences are not going to find on Wikipedia when researching Black Sabbath, and just one of Grow’s most notable reflections.   He also points out how the job of firing Ozzy Osbourne from the band ended up on then drummer Bill Ward.  Grow cites Ward in the liner notes’ opening page as saying of the unenviable duty, “Sometimes I don’t know if I’ve ever actually gotten over it.”  That statement would make sense, considering Ward’s own unceremonious departure from the band.  The guilt he felt likely led to Ward’s own alcoholism, and the fight that led to his split from the group.   As if all of that is not enough, Grow also points out that Dio’s famed devil horns sign rose to fame during his first-ever live run with Black Sabbath.  The story is so interesting because, as Grow points out, the development of the hand gesture was in fact part of Dio’s much bigger attempt to separate himself as a personality from Osbourne.  It shows how deeply Dio thought about making sure he was not compared to Osbourne.  This is one more item that is sure to engage and entertain audiences in regards to the liner notes.  When the rest of Grow’s notes are considered along with the items pointed out here, the whole of his work in this case makes for a fully engaging and entertaining introduction to the album.

Staying on the note of the liner notes, Curlee’s recollection of how she was picked to create the Heaven and Hell cover art makes for its own interest.  Curlee points out that until having been commissioned to create the cover art, she had never even listened to Black Sabbath.  That admission will generate its own share of laughs and appreciation for her work.  Audiences will be just as interested to learn the back story on the art.  She points out that it in fact was a painting that she had already created prior to having been commissioned for the Heaven and Hell project.  In other words, she did not have to do but so much to create the album’s cover art.  Even more interesting here is Curlee’s note that she has only listened to Heaven and Hell maybe twice in her life.  There is no disrespect aimed at the band, just admission that she is more a fan of 80s new wave than metal.  Curlee’s overall reflections, together with those of Grow, form a solid foundation for Heaven and Hell.  They collectively show so much why the record’s liner notes are so important to its whole.

Grow also crafted the primary liner notes for the re-issue of Mob Rules.  In the case of these notes, audiences will be interested to learn of the connection between Black Sabbath and The Beatles in this record.  Grow tells the story here that in writing the title song for Mob Rules, the band actually used instruments that were themselves used by The Beatles at a house previously used by that band in record.  As Grow points out in his liner notes, the instruments were “found lying around.”  He later points out that when the band later relocated to the U.S. to finish crafting Mob Rules, the title track had to be redone because as Grow notes in using The Beatles’ old equipment, “the sound of the track was completely different from the rest of the record.”  He cites bassist Geezer Butler as saying that the amp that he used at Lennon’s mansion led to sound problems.  This story alone is enough to keep audiences engaged and entertained.  When it is considered along with the rest of Grow’s notes, the whole makes Grow’s notes in this case just as entertaining and engaging as those that he crafted for the Heaven and Hell re-issue. 

Artist Greg Hildebrandt, who created the cover art for Mob Rules adds to the engagement and entertainment through the liner notes.  He points out in his commentary that as with Curlee, he knew nothing of Black Sabbath when he was tapped to create Mob Rules’ cover art.  The difference here is that being commissioned for the project, his fandom for the band grew.  Additionally, Hildebrandt points out in his notes, a nightmare that he had was the inspiration for the Mob Rules cover art.  That anecdote will be left for audiences to learn themselves.   He explains how that painting went on to become the album’s cover.   Here’s a hint:  It happened when Black Sabbath’s members made the first move.  That will also be left for audiences to learn for themselves.  Between these stories and those shared by Grow, no doubt is left as to the importance of this re-issue’s bonus liner notes.  Keeping in mind the importance of these notes and those featured with the Heaven and Hell liner notes, the overall liner notes clearly prove to be an important aspect of these re-issues.  They do a lot to make these re-issues a joy for audiences.  For all the good that the liner notes do for the re-issues, there is one negative to the recordings.  It comes believe it or not through the bonus content.

Typically when one thinks of bonus content, such content is considered a good thing.  For the most part, the bonus content featured in the re-issues is good.  The problem comes in comparing the bonus content featured in the re-issues in their CD and vinyl platforms.   The CD platforms present more bonus content than the vinyl presentations.  In the case of the Heaven and Hell re-issue, the live tracks recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London between Dec. 31, 1981 and Jan. 2 1982 are featured in the re-issue’s CD platform, but not the vinyl presentation.  Everything else is there on each platform in terms of the primary and bonus content, but that one aspect separates the two platforms’ presentations.  In regards to the Mob Rules re-issue, there is a discrepancy in the bonus content here, too.    In this case, the discrepancy is even wider.  The bonus live content from the band’s Apr. 22, 1982 show is presented only on the re-issue’s CD platform.  Why the incongruence happened with the re-issues’ bonus content happened is anyone’s guess.  It is not explained in either record’s liner notes.  Regardless, it is a limitation that rewards only those who buy CDs versus those who prefer vinyl.  It is a weird direct counter to Niji Entertainment’s recent re-issues of Dio’s Evil or Divine: Live in NYC and Holy Diver Live.  Those re-issues were clearly aimed more at Dio fans who prefer vinyl to CD.  These Black Sabbath re-issues, which feature Dio fronting the band, are aimed more at CD aficionados rather than vinyl fans.  That there is a certain bias (intended or not) here detracts from the re-issues’ overall presentations.  Of course even as much as it detracts from the re-issues’ presentations, it is not enough to make them failures.  To that end, there is one more positive to note here, that being that the re-issues were made available on both platforms.

It would have been easy for officials at Rhino Records and Warner Records to limit these Black Sabbath re-issues to just one platform or another in deciding how to release them.  That the decision was made to offer the records to issues on both sides of the “musical aisle” showed that those officials meant to reach as many audiences as possible.  This may seem inconsequential on the surface, but the fact of the matter is that there are labels that to this day, release albums, EPs and re-issues strictly on one platform or another.  Doing so limits record sales, and in turn, appeal for records and acts.  So in providing the re-issues on both platforms means that equal numbers of audiences will get to experience them.  It is just too bad that all of the bonus content was not presented in each platform.  Even with that one negative in mind, the wide availability of the re-issues in terms of platforms, and the liner notes that accompany the re-issues more than make the re-issues positive presentations.  They make the re-issues presentations that hard rock fans and Black Sabbath fans alike will mostly appreciate.

Rhino Records and Warner Records’ brand new re-issues of Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules are largely successful offerings for hard rock and Black Sabbath fans alike.  That is due in part to the extensive liner notes that come with the re-issues.  While the re-issues’ liner notes make for plenty of engagement and entertainment, the re-issues do have one notable negative, the incongruence of certain bonus content between the platforms on which the albums were re-issued.  There is some bonus content featured in the re-issues’ CD presentations that was not featured in their vinyl presentations.  Why that is the case is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, it is not enough to make the re-issues failures, though it is a matter that one cannot ignore.  The very fact that the recordings were re-issued on CD and vinyl ensures a far reaching appeal and potentially high sales for the records.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recordings.  All things considered, they make the recordings welcome additions to any hard rock and Black Sabbath fan’s library.  The re-issues are available now.

More information on this and other titles from Rhino Records is available online at:




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Christopher Shayne’s New EP Will Appeal Widely To Southern, Country Rock Fans

Courtesy: Carry On Music

Independent rocker Christopher Shayne is helping southern rock fans start off the new year on a good note.  The up-and-coming singer-songwriter is giving the noted audiences reason to be happy as 2021 opens with his new forthcoming EP Ten High.  Scheduled for release Friday through Carry On Music, the seven-song record offers audiences something to like in its musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical content that accompanies the EP’s musical arrangement offers its own appeal for listeners, too.  It will be discussed a little later.  The sequencing of the noted content rounds out the record’s most important elements, bringing everything together, completing the EP’s presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Ten High.  All things considered, they make Christopher Shayne’s new EP a record that guarantees its appeal to its target audiences.

Christopher Shayne’s forthcoming EP Ten High is a presentation that is certain to appeal to Shayne’s specifically targeted audiences from start to end of its 24-inute run time.  That is proven in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question all present a distinct southern rock approach and sound.  While each arrangement displays the same kind of approach and sound, the arrangements in whole do at least give audiences something unique from one song to the next.  Case in point is a comparison between maybe ‘Any Given Sunday’ to the album’s title track.  ’10 High’ gives audiences plenty of the noted southern rock sensibility at points throughout the song.  At the same time, the verses in this song present a clear AC/DC style influence.  The contrast of those two styles gives audiences something interesting in itself.  Meanwhile ‘Any Given Sunday’ presents more of a southern/country rock style approach.  Shayne’s own unique composition adds subtle influences from the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and maybe Josh Turner.  Again, the influence is so subtle, but it is noticeable through a close listen.  When that whole is compared to the whole of the EP’s title track, it leads to more appreciation for the record’s musical arrangement. 

On another level, ‘Jus Get Drunk,’ which closes out the EP immediately lends itself to comparison to work that Zakk Wylde has composed with his side project Pride & Glory in terms of its acoustic approach and distinct southern rock sound.  Shayne’s vocal delivery style is even right up there with that of Wylde and other powerhouse vocalists.  By comparison, ‘Give A Damn’ is arguably the EP’s most intense arrangement.  It is yet another full-on composition, but there is so much fire and vim in this work.  It is comparable to works from virtually any southern rock outfit out there today.  The subtle addition of the banjo in the song’s opening bars adds its own unique touch to the whole of the song, too.  When one examines this song in comparison not only to ‘Just Get Drunk,’ but also to the rest of the EP’s arrangements, its power becomes even more evident.  What’s more, when all of the songs are considered together, the whole of that content makes for reason in itself for southern rock fans to take in this record.  That foundation is strengthened even more through the EP’s lyrical content.

The lyrical content that is presented in Ten High is just as accessible for listeners as the EP’s musical content.  The record’s opener and closer are both pretty clear in their content.  They center on drinking.  What is interesting to note is that where ‘Pour The Bottle’ presents a man who is having no regrets about just drinking his troubles away and tells the bartender, “I ain’t finished yet/Pour the bottle/I won’t have any regrets.  He even goes on in the song’s second verse to sing about drowning himself “in alcohol.”  So again, this is someone who is just giving that proverbial middle finger to the world, including obviously a woman that has wronged him.  ‘Jut Get Drunk,’ by comparison is the opposite end of that emotion.  This song is that person sitting at the bar, having gotten drunk, he talks about not feeling the same without some whisky and that he’d “rather just get drunk/’Cause I need a little time/To sort what’s in my mind/Just one more and I’ll be fine.”  So again, here are two songs that lyrically tell their own story.  The contrast in those two sides will ensure listeners’ engagement in itself. 

On another hand, ‘Getaway Babe’ changes directions but keeps listeners engaged with its lyrical content.  This song’s lyrical theme is that familiar topic of a man who is crazy for a woman.  He tells her to “come get gone with me” in the song’s chorus, while adding plenty of praise in the verses.  That familiarity and the song’s catchy musical arrangement pair to make the song in whole yet another standout addition to Ten High.  When it is considered along with the equally engaging story presented in ‘Just Get Drunk’ and ‘Pour The Bottle’ and the rest of the EP’s lyrical content, the whole of that content makes for plenty for audiences to enjoy lyrically, too.  The appeal that the EP’s lyrical content provides audiences is just one more part of what makes the EP stand out.  The sequencing of the content puts its own ouch to the record.  The sequencing of the record’s musical and lyrical content puts the finishing touch to its presentation.

The sequencing of Ten High’s overall content brings everything together in this record, to complete the EP’s presentation.  As has already been noted, the EP’s opener and closer certainly seem to work hand in hand even if not intentionally.  That book-ending, generated through the sequencing is sure to present its own appeal.  Along the way, the sequencing changes things up, going from the seeming celebratory title track to the equally familiar topic of a man who is crazy for a woman in ‘Getaway Baby’ to the slightly introspective ‘Any Given Sunday’ and ‘Burn Me Down.’  The rather rowdy ‘Give A Damn’ changes things up even more before the EP closes out in the almost rueful ‘Just Get Drunk.’  The whole of the noted lyrical content ensures in itself shows that plenty of thought was put into the sequencing of this side of the EP.  Just as much thought was put into the sequencing of the EP in regards to its arrangements and their energies.

What more can be said of the sequencing of the EP in regards to its musical arrangements and their energy than it ensures the energy stays high.  The only time when the EP really pulls back is in its closer.  Other than that moment, ‘Burn Me Down’ is the only other point that presents any pull back in the record’s energy.  That pull back is noted in the song’s opening bars.  It only lasts that short time, too.  From those opening bars, things waste little time picking back up.  Overall, the sequencing of Ten High in regards to its energy ensures that aspect keeps listeners remain engaged just as much as that of the lyrical content.  It barely lets up at least until the EP’s finale.  To that end, it will keep listeners fully engaged and entertained.  Keeping this in mind, when this final touch is put to the EP, it brings everything together and completes the record’s presentation.  The result of that completion is that the record will appeal strongly to Christopher Shayne’s target audiences.

Christopher Shayne’s forthcoming EP Ten High is a record of which southern rock and country rock fans will think highly.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements.  The arrangement in question boast some very clear southern and country rock vibes while also making sure the arrangements do not just copycat one another.  There are subtle changes in each song that show a wide range of influences.  That alone helps the EP’s appeal.  The lyrical content that accompanies the EP’s musical arrangements adds its own touch to the EP’s presentation.  That is because the topics presented in the lyrical themes are accessible.  They are familiar topics for any listeners.  The sequencing of that musical and lyrical content brings everything together, completing its presentation.  Each item noted here does its own important part to make Christopher Shayne’s new EP appealing.  All things considered, the EP proves a work that will appeal equally to any southern and country rock fan.  Ten High is scheduled for release Friday through Carry On Music.  More information on the EP is available along with all of Christopher Shayne’s latest news at

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Var To Release New Live EP Friday; Debuts ‘Where To Find You’ Live Clip

Courtesy: Spartan Records

Audiences are getting their first preview of independent post roc band Var’s new EP this week.

The band premiered the live clip of its performance of its song ‘Where to Find You’ Tuesday through the online publication Under The Radar. The performance is featured in the band’s forthcoming live EP Live at Orgelsmidjan, which is scheduled for release Friday through Spartan Records.

Pre-saves for the four-song EP are open. The performances featured in the new EP were recorded at Orgelsmidjan, Iceland’s only pipe organ workshop. The workshop is the band’s practice space.

Front man Julius Bjorgvinsson talked about the EP’s pending release in a prepared statement.

“After releasing an album and having no chance to play it live, we felt like we had to do something to give people at least a little taste of us playing these songs live,” said Bjorgvinsson. “VAR has always been about playing live and we always give everything we have to make the tension between us and the audience both peaceful and powerful. But since we could not play it live for people, we decided to make these live videos of us playing the songs at the organ workshop where we practice. We got our producer Eiður to do the sound for the videos and when he sent us the audio files Arnór brought that idea of releasing a live EP, because people had been asking us to do so. We were happy with the sound Eiður got from the session and how far it is from how the album sounds. It’s powerful, it’s raw and it’s honest. And that is VAR.”

The track listing for Var’s new EP is noted below. The songs featured in the EP are live performances of songs featured in the band’s 2020 album The Never-Ending Year.

Track Listing

Where To Find You (Live)

Highlands (Live)

Moments (Live)

By The Ocean (Live)

More information on Var’s new EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:




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Aittala Signs New Record Deal; Offers Album Updates

Courtesy: Exitus Stratagem Records

Independent hard rock band Aittala has a new update for fans.

The band has signed a new record deal with independent record label Exitus Stratagem Records. The deal puts the band alongside fellow North Carolina-based bands Motor Junkie, Overlord SR, and Alter The Deal, who are also signed with the label.

With the new record deal finalized, the band has announced its plans to re-issue its fourth album American Nightmare in early 2021. Additionally, the band is working on its next new album, with plans to release the album in late 2021.

More information on Aittala’s new record deal and releases is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:




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Leprous Premieres ‘Illuminate’ Single, Video

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Leprous is giving audiences yet another preview of its fifth full-length studio release only days ahead of the album’s release.

The band unveiled ‘Iluminate,’ the third single from its forthcoming album Malina this week along with the single’s companion video.  Shot in Romania and directed by Costin Chioreanu for Twilight 13 Media, the video puts the band performing its new single in a very darkly lit background in order to help illustrate the song’s message.

The band explained that in a collective statement about the song.

“‘Illuminate’ is one of the most groovy songs we’ve ever made!  It’s the Leprous people know, but in a fresh version,” the statement reads.  “The abstract and dark video from Costin underlines the atmosphere of the song perfectly.”

Prior to this single and video, the band also released the singles and videos for ‘From The Flame’ and ‘Stuck.’  Other songs included in Malina’s 11-song body include ‘’Mirage,’ ‘The Weight of Disaster,’ ‘Captive’ and others.  The album’s full track listing is noted below.

LEPROUS – “Malina”:
1. Bonneville
2. Stuck
3. From The Flame
4. Captive
5. Illuminate
6. Leashes
7. Mirage
8. Malina
9. Coma
10. The Weight Of Disaster
11. The Last Milestone

Malina will be available in stores and online Friday, Aug. 25 via InsideOut Music on CD, digital, deluxe expanded CD and 2LP platforms.  Pre-orders are open now.

Leprous will embark on an extensive European tour this fall in support of Malina that begins Oct. 28 in Copenhagen, Denmark and currently runs through Nov. 25 in Oslo, Norway.  The tour also currently includes performances in Lyon, France; Dublin, Ireland; London, U.K. and other cities across Europe.

More dates are expected to be added to that schedule in the coming days and weeks.  The band’s current tour schedule is noted below.

LEPROUS, Agent Fresco, AlithiA & Astrosaur – European Tour:
Presented in Germany by Eclipsed,, Guitar &
28.10.2017 Copenhagen (Denmark) – Pumpehuset
29.10.2017 Hamburg (Germany) – Logo
30.10.2017 Cologne (Germany) – Luxor
31.10.2017 Esch (Luxembourg) – Rockhal
01.11.2017 Haarlem (The Netherlands) – Patronaat
02.11.2017 London (UK) – The Dome
03.11.2017 Dublin (Ireland) – Voodoo Lounge
04.11.2017 Leeds (UK) – Damnation Festival
05.11.2017 Vosselaar (Belgium) – Biebob
06.11.2017 Paris (France) – Trabendo
07.11.2017 Nantes (France) – Barakason
08.11.2017 Bordeaux (France) – Rocher Palmer
11.11.2017 Toulouse (France) – Le Metronum
12.11.2017 Marseille (France) – Le Moulin
13.11.2017 Milan (Italy) – Magnolia
14.11.2017 Lyon (France) – CCO Villeurbanne
15.11.2017 Winterthur (Switzerland) – Salzhaus
16.11.2017 Colmar (France) – Grillen
17.11.2017 Munich (Germany) – Backstage Halle
18.11.2017 Vienna (Austria) – Szene
19.11.2017 Budapest (Hungary) – A38
20.11.2017 Prague (Czech Republic) – Rock Café
21.11.2017 Warsaw (Poland) – Proxima
22.11.2017 Berlin (Germany) – Musik & Frieden
23.11.2017 Aarhus (Denmark) – Atlas
25.11.2017 Oslo (Norway) – Vulkan Arena
And more dates to be announced soon…

More information on Leprous’ new single, video, tour and more is available online now at:










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