Whelan’s Sophomore Album Is A “Sweet” New Offering

Courtesy: Line in the Sand

Courtesy: Line in the Sand

Singer/songwriter Brian Whelan is set to release his latest full-length studio recording later this month.  The album, the second from the former Dwight Yokam guitarist, is currently schedule to be released Friday, March 25th.  It is a very special new offering from the multi-talented musician and performer.  That is because of the amount of musical ground that Whelan covers over the course of the album’s ten songs.  The album opens with a fun, upbeat composition that directly celebrates Americana that is sure to entertain any listener regardless of whether or not audiences are fans of the genre.  ‘The Only Thing’ comes across with its musical arrangement to be a throwback to the days of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison by and large.  Though, the melody established in the song’s guitar line harkens back to a rather well-known Rolling Stones song at times.  Its lyrical content makes it just as enjoyable.  Later in the album’s run Whelan shows the influence of his time with Yokam in ‘Number 1 Fan’ with an old-school honky tonk sound that is just as enjoyable as the pop rock sound of ‘Go Dancing’ and the poppy vibe of ‘We Got It All.’  If that isn’t enough for audiences, Whelan has plenty more to offer his listeners including a bit of psychedelic rock in ‘Talk To Me’ and southern rock in the album’s finale ‘The Bottom.’  That isn’t even to mention the album’s title track, the much slower but thought-provoking ‘Suckerpunch’ or any of the album’s other offerings.  In listening to each of the noted songs Whalen’s broad talents become quite obvious.  That is counting both the album’s musical content and that of its lyrics.  All things considered Sugarland proves in the end to be quite the *ahem* sweet (bad pun fully intended) new album.

Brian Whelan’s new album Sugarland is a “sweet” new album.  The ten-song collection is a rarity in today’s music industry.  It is a collection that refuses to let itself be pigeonholed into one genre or another at any one point.  From beginning to end this thirty-three minute recording runs the gamut from one genre to another.  It does so in impressive fashion, too with songs that impress both musically and lyrically with each song.  This is made obvious right off the top in the album’s opener, the aptly titled ‘Americana.’  This song is such a great way to open Sugarland because while it is in fact an Americana style song.  But it is anything but the traditional Americana piece.  Rather it is a sharp response to what he apparently believes has become an overly bloated, commercial genre; a genre that remains weighed down by certain stereotypes.  He sings of those stereotypes, “You can still beat on those pots and pans/But your cowboy boots don’t make you a better man/You beat your head up against the wall/But American music is gonna outlive us all/You look like you stepped out of the Civil War/Sick and tired of being super bored.  He also notes of those stereotypes early in the song, “Come on man/You gotta make the scene/The big bass drum and your tambourine/Sell it for a million dollars/But there is nothing wrong/Wrong with Americana.  Whelan’s sharp indictment of today’s Americana here is a powerful statement in itself.  The juxtaposition of the song’s Earl Scruggs-inspired banjo solo (played here by veteran musician Herb Pederson to the Reckless Kelly style southern rock sound is an even bolder statement.  It shows that Americana doesn’t have to be just one specific way.  It doesn’t have to be just the old stereotyped sound or even the more radio friendly, spit shined version of that sound.  It can include that old sound but still have something more to it without sacrificing that core sound or its soul.  The combination of the statement made in the song’s music and its lyrical content makes it a great way to kick off the album and to introduce (or even re-introduce) Whelan to listeners.  It’s just one example of what makes Whalen’s new album a must hear for audiences of all tastes.  ‘The Only Thing’ is another example of what makes Whelan’s album such a surprise.

‘Americana’ was a great choice with which to open Sugarland.  That is thanks to the statement made by its lyrics and its musical content.  While it was a good choice with which to open the album and an equally good addition to the album’s whole it is just one example of what makes Sugarland such a joy.  ‘The Only Thing’ is another good example of what makes Sugarland such an enjoyable new effort from Whelan.  The song’s musical arrangement conjures thoughts of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison with its combined guitar and bass line set against Whalen’s vocal delivery.  On a related note it could just be this critic’s own interpretation but the song’s guitar line sounds eerily similar to that of The Rolling Stones’ hit song ‘Shattered.’  Given it isn’t entirely the same. But the similarity can’t be denied.  It is probably purely coincidence.  But it is there nonetheless.  The relation of this song to works from so many greats is in itself more than enough proof of why it is another of the album’s highest points.  The song’s lyrical content is yet another reason that it stands out.  In regards to its lyrical content the song comes across as one of those songs steeped in the issue of a broken relationship.  What is interesting here is that if it is indeed centered on the subject then Whalen doesn’t come across in the same fashion as so many standard oh-woe-is-me opuses.  Yes, that sense of bittersweet emotion is there.  But it isn’t the typical piece about a relationship at its end.  That is argued as Whalen sings “I tried to run with a different crowd/But I just kept falling down/A change of clothes and a new routine/End up right back here at the beginning/Breaking away from you/Is the hardest thing to do/The only thing to do/would be true/Is you.”  And, that is just the song’s first verse.  He follows a similar vibe in the song’s second verse, singing “I tried around till I’ve had enough/I drive all night till I’m out of luck/Eyes trained on the city lights/They dance on the lathe/And they fade on the mirror.”  Again, there is that bittersweet vibe, which is again illustrated via the song’s musical arrangement but it is not one of those standard oh-woe-is-me sort of songs.  Considering this it makes the song stand out that much more among the other offerings on this record.  It still is not the last remaining example of what makes Sugarland a “sweet sophomore” record from Brian Whelan.  ‘Number 1 Fan’ is yet another example of what makes the album stand out.

Brian Whelan shows through both ‘The Only Thing’ and ‘Americana’ are both prime examples of what makes his latest album stand out among this year’s current crop of country, folk, and Americana records.  As impressive as they are in the bigger picture of Sugarland, they are not the only songs that can be cited in exhibited this.  The old school honky tonk sound of ‘Number 1 Fan’ is another great addition to the album.  In terms of its sound it is a direct throwback to his time with country great Dwight Yokam.  That is clear through its twangy, guitar-driven sound.  There is an infectious fiddle line that couples with an equally fun piano line that together adds even more enjoyment to the song.  Of course without note of the song’s lyrical content the song would be nothing.  In regards to its lyrical content, it is actually a pretty funny song.  That is because it is a joking commentary about the superfans across the board.  Whether it be in the country music world, the rock world or any other, every act has those fans.  Few if any artists out there have been brave enough to address those fans save perhaps for rapper Eminem.  And his commentary takes a completely different tone than that taken by Whalen in this song.  Whalen sings of said fans here, “I went out back/The people are gone/Behind yellow tape with my laminate on/I just love to watch you/Doin’ all the things you do/City after city/Night after night/If you called me crazy/You might be right/But there’s one thing, baby/I really wanna say to you/I’m your number one fan/I’m your right hand man/I’m a workin’ and slavin’/At every little thing I can/I’m the gleam in your eye/I’m the catch in your thigh/For that fine sweet love/Swim the Rio Grande.”  Plain and simple, this is someone that seriously needs a life, obviously.  Interestingly enough there really are people out there like this person.  It would have been easy for Whalen to take an overly serious tone here.  But he didn’t.  Instead he opted for the more playful tone.  And that tone rolls on in the song’s second verse with Whalen singing about the subject dreaming of being this and that, from the star’s personal banker, to his/her lover, to any number of other things.  It really is a little disturbing.  But again thanks to Whelan’s tone here one can’t help but laugh about that figure.  Considering this the combination of that light-hearted tone in the song’s lyrical content and its musical content the end result is one more of the highest of the album’s points.  And together with ‘Americana’ and ‘The Only Thing’ the picture that Whalen paints of Sugarland is that much clearer and fuller.  It is a picture of an album that is one of the year’s best new albums overall hands down.  That is even more the case when considering the rest of the album’s songs.

Sugarland is only the second full-length studio recording from former Dwight Yokam guitarist Brian Whelan.  Listening through the whole of the album is can be said that this album is one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  This is evident in both the musical arrangement of the album’s songs and their lyrical themes.  Whalen doesn’t stick to one style from one song to the next.  He touches on old school honky tonk, more modern southern rock, pop rock, and other sounds from beginning to end.  And the lyrical topics featured in the songs range from the emotional to the silly.  Even within the songs, Whalen’s approach to each topic plays its own important part.  All things considered Sugarland proves to be a “sweet” new album from Whelan and also one of the year’s best new albums overall.  It will be available Friday, March 25th in stores and online.  Whalen will hit the road beginning Wednesday, March 23rd in support of Sugarland ahead of the album’s release.  His current tour schedule runs through Sunday, April 3rd in Los Angeles, CA.  More information on Whelan’s tour is available online along with information on Sugarland at:



Website: http://www.brianwhelanmusic.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Brian-Whelan-103249399724102/timeline

Twitter: http://twitter.com/WhalenMusic



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Live In Hyde Park Is A Must Have For Every ELO Fan

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Next month, ELO, now known as Jeff Lyne’s ELO will release its fourteenth full-length studio recording. The album, Alone in the Universe, will be released on Friday, November 13th via Columbia Records. That is just under a month away at the time of this review’s posting. The announcement of the album’s impending release was made just last month, a day before the release of the group’s new live recording Live in Hyde Park. Released on September 11th, Live in Hyde Park is a good addition to any ELO fan’s personal music library. The main reason that it proves to be such a worthwhile addition to fans’ collections is its set list. It should be noted right up front that the recording’s U.S. presentation allegedly is lacking the group’s performance of ‘Roll Over Beethoven,’ which was the band’s cover of Chuck Berry’s classic hit. Even if it is indeed lacking that one encore performance, the lack of that performance, at least in this critic’s own view, does not take away anything from the positive impact of the show’s overall set list. That will be discussed shortly. Another positive to the recording is of course Lynne’s stage presence and that of his fellow musicians. That presence makes for just as much enjoyment as the show’s set list and gives fans even more reason to add this recording to their personal ELO collections and music libraries in whole. Last but hardly least worth noting of the recording is its bonus material. The bonus interview with Lynne is quite insightful in its own right while the “bio” “Mr. Blue Sky: The Story Of Jeff Lynne and ELO adds even more insight into the importance of this legendary act. The two bonuses come together to round out the recording’s overall viewing experience and show once and for all why fans will both enjoy and appreciate once they add it to their own personal ELO collections and music libraries in whole.

Live at Hyde Park, the new live recording from Jeff Lynne’s ELO is a good addition to any ELO fan’s personal music library and ELO collection. It proves first and foremost through its set list. While not a completely career-spanning performance for Lynne and company, the sixteen song set list touches on a rather healthy sampling of the band’s body of work even going all the way back to the band’s 1971 debut record The Electric Light Orchestra. Its 1977 album Out Of The Blue appears to be the most well-represented of the albums represented in this concert. Of the album’s sixteen songs, no fewer than three are taken from that album while The Electric Light Orchestra, On The Third Day, Eldorado, and Face The Music are each represented by one song. A New World Record is represented twice over, while Discovery, the Xanadu soundtrack, and Secret Messages each boast a single track. That still leaves four songs that audiences both familiar with ELO’s body of work and those not so familiar work to find for themselves. In finding themselves, audiences will agree that once again, while the sentiment that the set list featured in this concert recording, while not necessarily career-spanning, is still a solid representation of ELO’s body of work. On another note, there are those that have complained about the U.S. presentation of Live at Hyde Park not including the encore performance of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ at he very end of the recording. Given, that track is not there. There is no denying this. But considering that it is just one song, it still takes away very little if anything from the overall viewing experience of this recording. To that extent, the set list presented in Live in Hyde Park proves in the end to still be just as important to the recording’s viewing experience as any of the recording’s key talking points.

The set list featured in this recording is within itself plenty of reason for ELO fans to add it to their personal collections and music libraries in whole. That is even with the alleged omission of one song in the recording’s U.S. release. Lynne’s stage presence and that of his fellow musicians is just as important as the songs themselves. It goes without saying that the group’s stage presence makes for its own share of enjoyment. Lynne exudes a certain confidence for lack of better wording as he makes his way from one song to the next in the show’s set. It proves that a performer doesn’t necessarily have to run around stage and do all kinds of antics in order to be entertaining. All a performer needs is that confidence and the love of being on stage, entertaining the masses in order to be entertaining. That is what makes his stage presence so solid throughout the show. He commands the stage just by being there and doing so little other than deliver the songs. Lynne’s fellow musicians–many of whom are members of the BBC Orchestra, as Lynne directly notes–show just as much confidence throughout the concert. They also show just how much they enjoy performing with Lynne and his band. It shows through the energy and concentration put into each song’s performance and through their facial gestures. Audiences can see smiles on the faces of the BBC Orchestra members’ faces throughout, showing just how much they enjoyed being a part of the show. The enjoyment leads back to the energy put into each performance from start to finish. In turn it makes the overall stage presence of the group in whole–including Lynne and his band–that much more powerful and important to the whole of Live in Hyde Park. Together with the show’s set list and its sequencing, both elements together go a long way toward making this recording such an enjoyable experience for any long-time ELO fan. For all of their importance to the recording’s overall viewing experience they are not all that make the recording so enjoyable. The bonus interview with Jeff Lynne and the “bio” Mr. Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO round out the recording. The two bonuses together not only paint a rich picture of Jeff Lynne and his importance to the music industry, but on the legacy that he has created throughout his professional career.

The performance that lies at the center of Live in Hyde Park is in itself the most important element of the recording. It is after all the central focus point of the recording. However, the bonus material that is included with the recording proves just as important to the whole of the recording as the concert. That is because the bonus material paints such a rich, vivid picture of who Jeff Lynne is and why he is today one of the most important figures in the music industry. The one-on-one interview with Lynne paints its own picture, showing perhaps why Lynne is such a stickler for detail in terms of composing songs. He notes in his interview that despite being essentially a manual laborer, his father had a deep love and respect for classical music. And classical music requires a deep love for and attention to the music. Any lover of classical music will agree with that. Perhaps growing up in a household filled with such beautiful music led to his own attention to detail in composing his songs. He perhaps gained the same love for his music and attention to detail in composing his songs through his musical upbringing, in other words. Lynne also shares a funny anecdote about ELO opening for Deep Purple in the band’s first major tour and his surprise at how well it went down considering the stark contrast of sounds between the two acts. That anecdote will have viewers laughing just as Lynne himself. It’s just another example of what makes his interview so enjoyable for audiences, regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Lynne’s body of work and his contributions to the music industry. Speaking of those contributions to the music world, the bonus “bio/documentary” Mr. Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO offers even more insight into the importance of his contributions to the music industry.

Mr. Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO takes the foundation established in Lynne’s bonus one-on-one interview and builds even more on it. It does so by going into even more depth about his own achievements and contributions over the course of his professional career. It isn’t just some short, ten-minute presentation unlike so many other career retrospectives out there that call themselves bonuses on other acts’ recordings. Rather, it is a deep, extensive presentation that will keep viewers just as engaged as the presentation’s central concert recording. Viewers will learn that Lynne started his professional musical career early on in life and that his mom couldn’t even believe that he was making money as a musician. It’s another great light-hearted moment for audiences and fans alike. He also echoes his father’s love of classical music as an influence behind his love of music and his own method in composing his music. There are insights from the likes of Tom Petty, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and even the widows of George Harrison and Roy Orbison that paint such a deeply vivid picture of a musical genius. Even the most well-versed ELO fan might be surprised to learn through this documentary that Lynne was actually at least partially responsible for Tom Petty’s hit song ‘Free Falling,’ some of George Harrison’s most beloved compositions, and even one of The Beatles’ records post John Lennon’s passing. There is also an in-depth history presented by Petty, Lynne, and both Roy Orbison and George Harrison’s widows about The Traveling Wilburys included as part of the documentary. For those that might not know, Lynne was a member of The Traveling Wilburys alongside Orbison, Petty, Harrison, and Bob Dylan. It was a supergroup before supergroups became a thing. That part of Lynne’s story alone makes the “bio” well worth the watch. And it is hardly all that makes the documentary such an important presentation. There is so much more that long-time fans and audiences in general will appreciate throughout the program. Together with Lynne’s sit-down interview, Live in Hyde Park’s main feature concert, and Lynne’s performance alongside his fellow musician throughout the show, Live at Hyde Park in whole proves to be a recording that every ELO fan should have in their own home DVD library. Period.

Live In Hyde Park is a recording that every ELO fan should have in his or her own home DVD library. Whether for its set list, the performance of Lynne and his fellow musicians throughout the concert, or for the recording’s bonus material, there is so much to enjoy about this recording. It presents a band and a performer that remain today among the most influential and important names in the music industry. Each noted element is important to the whole of the presentation in its own right. Collectively, they make Live in Hyde Park a must have for any ELO fan and potentially one more of this year’s best new live DVDs and Blu-rays. It is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online. 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.

The Good Times Do Indeed Roll On JD McPherson’s New LP

Courtesy:  Rounder Records

Courtesy: Rounder Records

Singer/Songwriter JD Mcpherson recently released his latest full-length studio release Let The Good Times Roll. The album, his second, was released via Rounder Records. McPherson’s new album is an aptly titled record. That is because throughout the course of the album’s eleven tracks and thirty-six minutes, McPherson offers audiences an album that will have them dancing and singing from the album’s upbeat title track to its Buddy Holly-esque ‘Bridgebuilder’ all the way to the album’s full-on 1950s style rocker ‘Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout The All-American.’ And those are just a few of the reasons that audiences will love this album, too. There is not one bad song throughout this record from beginning to end. It takes the classic vibe established in his 2012 debut album Signs and Signifiers and takes it another step forward incorporating more influence from the rock and r & b acts that continue to make the 1960s one of music’s greatest eras ever. The end result is an album that is deservedly one of this year’s early contender’s for a spot on any critic’s year-end list of the year’s best new albums overall.

JD McPherson has crafted in his second full-length album Let The Good Times Roll a record that is quite aptly titled. That is because from start to finish, McPherson does indeed let the good times roll. Every performance will leave a smile on listeners’ faces and will leave listeners wanting to listen to it again once it’s done. That is evident right from the album’s opener and title track. ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ is a great rocker that harkens back to the days of John Fogerty and others of his ilk. McPherson’s guitar work and drummer Jason Smay’s driving tempo set the song’s backbone. The additional piano line makes that backbone even stronger. McPherson’s soulful vocals complete the song as he sings, “I miss you so/Every time I fall away/I miss you so/Every time I fall away/Let the sky open up little darling/Follow me when I go/Let the sky open up and/Let the good times roll.” He goes on to sing to his figure of interest, “Why can’t you see/I’m standin’ at your door/Why can’t you see/I’m standin’ at your door/Open your home little darling/Follow me when I go/Let the sky open up and let the good times roll. It should be noted that this is not a cover of the 1956 song written by Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee. That aside it is still an enjoyable song in its own right. Presented here is a man telling a woman how much he needs her and loves her. But it’s not done in the classic almost begging style. Rather, there’s a full on swagger to the song here. It’s a swagger that is—again—certain to have any listener on their feet, singing and dancing happily right to the last moment and just as anxiously waiting to see what he has in store next.

What McPherson offers to his audiences after the album’s opener/title track is nothing short of impressive. Every one of the songs that make up this album is well worth its own mention. That includes even the softer, slower sounds of ‘Bridgebuilder.’ The seemingly Buddy Holly/Roy Orbison influenced song will instantly take listeners familiar with music of the era back to the 1950s both with its musical and lyrical side. Audiences can almost see McPherson and his band mates—Jimmy Sutton (upright bass), Jason Smay (drums), Ray Jacildo (keyboards), Doug Corcoran (Saxophone, guitar, keyboards)—on some high school stage a la Back to the Future performing for a group of teenagers while their teachers and parents chaperone the school dance. That is not necessarily meant in a negative way. Rather, the rendition is so pure that it creates that vivid image in one’s mind. That image becomes even more vivid as McPherson sings, “I’ll build something that is real and true/Building bridges to you/I’ll build something that is real and true/Building bridges to you/Bridgebuilder, bridge builder build me a bridge/Draw a straight line on the water/Bridge builder, bridge builder/The waters are deep/Fear I may sink to the bottom/Waiting in shadow/In old merry times/Dreaming of some father’s daughter.” The combination of those lyrics and the song’s classic 1950s style music creates a truly incredible song. It actually sounds like it came direct from the 1950s rather than just being some modern song recorded to sound like something similar to the music of that era. That speaks volumes of this song. It speaks, for that matter, just as loudly as the album’s opener and every other track on this disc. Because it does so, it proves ‘Bridgebuilder’ to be yet another wonderful addition to Let The Good Times Roll.

As is evidenced by both the Buddy Holly/Roy Orbison influenced ‘Bridgebuilder’ and the Jon Fogerty influenced opener/title track to Let The Good Times Roll, JD McPherson gives audiences plenty to like about his new album. They are definitely not all that there is to like about this album, either. McPherson and his band mates keep audiences entertained from start to finish on this album. And hearing the album’s rock and roll/r & b hybrid sound of the album’s closer ‘Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout The All-American’ listeners will agree with that sentiment. McPherson sounds almost like Little Richard here as he sings, “Everybody talking ‘bout the All-American/Knockin’ down walls like a bombardier again/Hair fallin’ down like a razor blade/Breakin’ every heart in every place you’re playing/Everybody talking ‘bout the All-American.” The sax and the drums coupled with McPherson’s work on the guitar and his vocal style make this song feel like something pulled right out of a time capsule that was buried decades ago. It is a solid and rocking final statement from McPherson and company that leaves the absolute best impact on listeners’ ears. Coupled with the rest of the album’s compositions—both those noted and not noted—it will leave an impact so strong that it will have listeners hitting play almost instantly to listen to the album again. That is how impressive this album proves itself. To have such a lasting impact on listeners means that it is definitely deserving of being called one of this year’s best new albums overall.

JD McPherson is currently touring in support of his new album. He will be at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, New York this Wednesday, February 25th for a sold out performance. From there, he and his band mates will wind their way through the Northeast before heading to the Midwest by way of Charleston, WV on March 8th. After those dates, the band will make its way down South beginning April 9th in Paducah, Kentucky. The band’s late spring schedule across the South includes a stop at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina on April 23rd at 7pm. That performance date will see McPherson supporting country music superstar Eric Church. Even more tour dates follow that show. McPherson’s latest tour schedule can be found online along with all of the latest news from McPherson online at:

Website: https://www.jdmcpherson.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jdmcphersonhistyle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jdmcphersonjr

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://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.

Roy Orbison To Receive New Award

Photo Credit: Janet Macoska

Photo from “The Last Concert” Credit: Janet Macoska

Legendary musician Roy Orbison is gone but definitely not forgotten.  The legendary musician will posthumously receive an award from the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.  Orbison will be awarded the Iconic Riff Award.  The award, which is being awarded for the first time, is being awarded to Orbison for his hit 1964 song, ‘Oh, Pretty Woman.’  The song would go on to become a number one single after its original release.

Heads of the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum said the reason that Orbison was chosen as the first recipient of the award because of the riff that opens ‘Oh, Pretty Woman.’  The song itself has been covered by countless artists. It rose to its biggest fame thanks to rock band Van Halen’s cover of the song.  It was also the inspiration for the hit 1990 rom-com, Pretty Woman, starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.  The song itself can even be heard in the movie’s soundtrack.

Along with its numerous covers and use in movies, ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ the song is also included a new live concert recording from Legacy Recordings titled Black & White Night.  The DVD recording was released this week.  It was recorded in September of 1987 and includes the likes of: Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Jackson Brown, JD Souther, and Tom Waits joining the star for his hit song.

Roy Orbison is one of the music industry’s most well-known and respected names.  He started his career in 1956.  He was signed to the famed Sun Records at the time.  The label also boasted the likes of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash on its roster.  It wouldn’t be until he signed a deal and recorded for Monument Records in the early to mid-1960s that his career truly took off.  The release of ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ marked the peak of his career at the time.  The song, which Orbison co-wrote with Bill Dees, would go on to sell seven million copies and spend three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.  It also peaked at number one on the British charts for three weeks.  This was an unprecedented feat for any American recording artist at the time.  That is because The Beatles were dominating both countries’ charts at the time.

A new collection of Orbison’s hits titled The Monument Boxset will be released November 26th.  The collection is a vinyl only package that includes three of the most well-known and beloved albums that Orbison recorded during his time with Monument Records.  Those records are: Lonely and Blue, Crying, and In Dreams, which was also just recently re-issued on CD.  The new box set also includes a fourth album that had not existed until now.  The album will be centered on ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ and will be comprised of five tracks.  The album’s songs were chosen by Orbison’s own sons, Alex, Roy Kelton, and Wesley Orbison.  Orbison’s suns have maintained their father’s legacy, running Roy’s Boys LLC, which is responsible for managing their father’s likeness, image, and musical releases.

Roy’s Boys LLC and Legacy Recordings are set to release one more live Roy Orbison concert before the year ends.  The Last Concert25th Anniversary Edition chronicles what would be Orbison’s final concert before his death in 1988.  The concert was recorded on December 4th, 1988.  That was only two days before he would suffer a fatal heart attack.  The fact that he would pass away only two days later is only part of what makes the upcoming concert so important.  Orbison commonly closed his shows with a performance of ‘Running Scared.’  But recording engineers ran out of tape that night before Orbison performed the song.  The result of that shortage is that ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ would end up being the final number from his final ever concert.  More information on all upcoming Roy Orbison releases is available online at http://www.royorbison.com and http://www.facebook.com/royorbison.  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.

In Dreams Re-Issue Makes Dreams Come True For Orbison’s Fans

Courtesy:  Legacy Recordings

Courtesy: Legacy Recordings

Almost twenty-five years have passed since music legend Roy Orbison passed away from a fatal heart attack.  Orbison died on December 6th, 1988.  Only the year before his passing, his hits collection, In Dreams: Greatest Hits was release to the masses.  As the anniversary of Orbison’s passing nears, Legacy Recordings has re-issued that compilation of Orbison’s hits for a whole new generation.

When most audiences are asked if they know of any songs written by Orbison, the most common answer is his song, ‘Oh, Pretty Woman.’  But as this compilation reveals, Orbison wrote far more songs than the one.  In fact ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ wasn’t Orbison’s song alone.  Fans of this song will learn in the compilation’s liner notes that he wrote the song alongside Joe Melson.  Listeners will learn that it wasn’t the only song which the pair wrote together, either.  They also co-wrote other hits such as: ‘Only The Lonely’, ‘Blue Angel’, and I’m Hurtin’’ just to name a few.  So what does all this have to do with anyone?  It has everything to do with everything.  So much of today’s music is being downloaded rather than bought.  Simply downloading music without any liner notes takes away from the overall music experience provided by the physical object.  Liner notes, especially in the case of this re-issue, serve to make the whole package something of a lesson in music history.  And this compilation’s liner notes are proof of that.  Listeners that buy the physical CD in store or order it will learn that along with his own hits, also included in this collection are his take on hits written by Claude De Metrius, and Wade Moore and Dick Penner.  Trivia such as this is inconsequential to most audiences.  But to those that are more interested in a song’s history, having this knowledge as a starting point makes an album’s liner notes that much more important to the overall presentation.

The liner notes included with In Dreams: Greatest Hits are just a part of what makes the entire presentation worth checking out.  The songs themselves are just as much the star here as the liner notes.  One of the most notable of the compilation’s songs is its opener, ‘Only The Lonely.’  This song was one of so many co-written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson.  Orbison’s control over his voice as he sings, “That’s the chance you’ve gotta take/If you’re lonely/A heartbreak/Only the lonely” is incredible.  It takes real talent and skill for a male to be able to hit a note as high as he does in this last line.  And he exhibited both in this moment.  Much the same can be said of his talent in ‘Blue Angel.’  Yet again, he hits those high notes.  And he handles them expertly, without cracking even the slightest.  The notes that he hits, most male vocalists today would be terrified to even attempt.  To that extent, this and other songs such as ‘I’m Hurtin’ make this compilation all the more interesting for any oldies fan and fan of Roy Orbison’s music.

The songs co-written by Orbison and Joe Melson comprise most of this compilation.  Audiences will note that the songs in question all seem to have a recurring semi-doo wop vibe about them.  By contrast, songs such as ‘Working for the Man’ and ‘Claudette’ are quite different from the songs that Orbison wrote with Melson.  Both ‘Working for the Man’ and ‘Claudette’ were written by Orbison alone.  The prior of the pair is in simple terms, a working man’s song.  It’s the type of thing one might expect to hear on the jukebox of a blue collar bar.  Claudette on the other hand boasts almost something of a driving country western vibe with its guitar riffs and harmonica.  One typically wouldn’t connect Roy Orbison to country western.  So it makes for an interesting departure from the softer 1950s style material that makes up most of this record.

In the same vein as ‘Claudette’ are Orbison’s take on Claude De Metrius’ up-tempo blues opus, ‘Mean Woman Blues’ and Dick Penner’s ‘Ooby Dooby.’  This is about as far as Orbison could go from the sound that largely defined him.  It’s a great change of pace for fans.  That’s because it serves even more to exemplify the limits of Orbison’s talents.  They show just how far Orbison might have been able to go had he not had that fatal heart attack.  Sadly though, he did.  Thanks to Legacy Recordings though, a whole new generation has these and so many other songs keeping his talents and memory alive with this record.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other Legacy Recordings releases is available online at http://www.LegacyRecordings.com and http://www.facebook.com/LegacyRecordings.  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.