Beck’s New Live CD Is A Welcome Addition To Any Fan’s Collection

Courtesy:  ATCO/Rhino Records

Courtesy: ATCO/Rhino Records

Later this month, veteran guitarist Jeff Beck will release a brand new live recording titled Live+. The recording, which will be released only on CD, will be released on Tuesday, May 19th. The disc is a great new collection of live performances for audiences of all ages. The main reason for this is the list of songs that make up the disc’s sixteen total tracks. The disc’s body is composed of fourteen live tracks and two brand new studio tracks. The live tracks include both Beck’s own originals and some cover tunes that audiences of all ages will recognize and enjoy. The work of those charged with handling the record’s sequencing is just as much worth noting. The songs featured on this record come from a number of shows held during Back’s 2014 tour with ZZ Top. Despite this, they weren’t just tossed around haphazardly. Rather they were placed in a specific order that guarantees audiences will remain just as engaged as if they all came from one single performance. Having noted this, there is one more positive that can be noted of Live+. That last positive is the disc’s overall audio mix. Every little nuance of the performances is captured thanks to the work of those responsible for handling both the original concert audio and those charged with balancing said levels in the disc’s “post-production.” Taking into consideration all three elements noted here, Live+ proves itself to be another good addition to any Jeff Beck fan’s music library even if it is available only via CD and digital download.

Live+ is a good addition to any Jeff Beck fan’s music library. This is the case even with the collection of live performances being available mainly via CD and digital download. The reason that it proves itself worth the addition is the list of songs that makes up the body of the record. The record is composed of sixteen tracks. Fourteen of those tracks are live tracks and two are brand new studio recordings from Beck. In listening to the fourteen live performances that make up most of this record, audiences will appreciate that it includes both familiar originals from Beck and some familiar songs from other artists, too. The covers include Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing,’ ‘Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come,’ ‘Mahavishnu Orchestra’s ‘You Know You Know,’ and a pair of tunes from The Beatles in the form of ‘A Day in The Life’ and ‘Hammerhead.’ There’s even an interesting take on the traditional song ‘Danny Boy.’ and an impressive take on Stevie Wonder’s hit song ‘Superstition.’ The original songs from Beck that were included across the disc include: ‘Morning Dew,’ ‘Big Block,’ ‘Why Give It Away,’ and ‘Loaded’ are just some of Beck’s originals featured throughout the record. Some might ask what this is important to the whole of the record. It is important in that it shows Beck’s versatility. It shows that along with handling his own works with just as much ease as ever, he has a certain respect for music and musicians across the musical universe. Those that are familiar with all of the songs featured here will second that sentiment while those that might be new to both Beck’s originals and the covers he handles will agree just as much as they discover both for the first time ever.

The songs that are included across the body of Live+ are in themselves key to the record’s enjoyment. That is because they put on display Beck’s versatility as a musician as well as his respect for other musicians and musical acts across the musical universe. On a related note, the work of those charged with handling the sequencing of the songs are to be commended. Their work makes the overall listening experience through each song all the more enjoyable. As audiences will note, from song to song, those charged with handling the record’s sequencing never stick to just one style of song. The more energetic, up-tempo songs are complemented quite well by their slower, more reserved counterparts from beginning to end. As inconsequential as this may seem, it is extremely important. It is especially important in the realm of live recordings. Musical acts assemble set lists that will keep their audiences fully engaged at the actual concerts that they hold. This compilation of live performances was set up in much the same fashion even being compiled from a number of live sets. It is a tribute to their efforts and attention to such an important detail along with that of Beck himself. It’s one more reason audiences will agree that Live+ is another good addition to any Jeff Beck fan’s personal music library.

Both the set list that makes up the body of Live+ and the work of those charged with handling the sequencing of said songs are important to the whole of the recording in their own right. Neither would be of any consequence without the work of those charged with handling the performances’ audio. This includes both those that handled the audio at Beck’s performances with ZZ Top last year and those that handled the audio levels in “post-production.” That is those that handled the audio levels in preparation for the recording’s release. It’s thanks to their work that singer Jimmy Hall blows audiences away with his powerhouse vocals. It is thanks to them that Becks work shines through just as much both during his time in the limelight and as a member of the musical collective on stage. Even more impressive is that throughout the course of the record’s live performances, every part is balanced with the utmost expertise. This includes not only Hall’s vocal talents and Beck’s talents on guitar, but the talents of their band mates–Jonathan Joseph (drums), Rhonda Smith (bass), and Nicholas Meier (guitar)–too. No one part overpowers the other at any point throughout the performances. The end result is a collection of performances that once more proves itself another worthy addition to any Jeff Beck fan’s personal music library.

Jeff Beck’s new live recording Live+ shows plenty of reason for his fans to add this recording to their personal music libraries when it is released this month. The mix of original songs and covers shows both Beck and his band mates as quite the versatile group of musicians. It shows them as musicians that are not only greatly talented but that have great respect for other equally renowned acts. The work of those charged with sequencing the various performances is just as noteworthy. That is because the mood of the recording’s live songs doesn’t stick to just one style. The more energetic, up-tempo pieces are expertly complemented by more laid back, reserved pieces from beginning to end. The end result of that expert balance is a collection of performances that will keep audiences fully engaged from the collection’s first performance to its fourteenth. The work of those charged with handling the performances’ audio both in their live setting and in post production have made Live+ enjoyable, too. It is thanks to the work of those individuals that the performances sound so good from beginning to end. That element taken into consideration with the compilation’s set list and the work of those that assembled said set list proves Live+ in the long run to be a live recording that every Jeff Beck fan will want to add to their personal music library. That isn’t to ignore the record’s two new studio recordings, either. They add even more enjoyment to the record. Having noted all of this it can be said with certainty that Jeff Beck’s upcoming live CD Live+ deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new live CDs.

Jeff Beck is currently wrapping up a handful of makeup dates with ZZ Top that were previously postponed last year. The dates in question were postponed due to an injury sustained by ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill. The last of those dates is tomorrow, May 10th. After that date, Beck will embark on a nine-date solo tour that kicks off next Tuesday, May 12th in Louisville, KY. That schedule is listed below.

Jeff Beck Newly Added Solo Dates – on sale dates noted:

May 12 The Kentucky Center –Whitney Hall Louisville, KY*

May 14 Michigan Theater Ann Arbor, MI ***

May 15 Hard Rock Live Northfield, OH*

May 16 PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center Cincinnati, OH

May 17 Ryman Auditorium Nashville, TN

May 19 Fox Theater St. Louis, MO *

May 21 Chicago Theatre Chicago, IL **

May 22 Riverside Theatre Milwaukee, WI*

May 23 State Theater Minneapolis, MN*

*on sale April 10

** on sale April 11

*** on sale April 17

Live+ will be available in stores and online Tuesday, May 19th. It will retail for MSRP of $18.98 in physical form. More information on this recording, Beck’s upcoming re-issue of Live at Ronnie Scott’s and any of his other recordings is available online now along with all of the latest updates on his tour schedule and other news at:

Website: http://www.jeffbeck.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jeffbeckmusic

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.

Motown 25 Is A Musical Diamond In The Rough

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Television in America possesses a rich history in its modern era.  The moon landing, JFK’s assassination, The Korean and Vietnam wars, presidential elections, 9/11 and so many other events fill the history of television in its modern era.  While it would seem that many of the most important events broadcast on television in its modern history are memorable because they are tragic, there are positive events recorded in television’s modern history, too.  Some of the most memorable of those more positive events are concerts that have brought people together from all walks of life.  Live Aid, The Concert For New York, and the Beatles’ first ever live performance on American television each make the list of television’s top live broadcast draws.  Next Tuesday, September 30th, Time Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment will add another concert to that list of television’s greatest live concerts when they release Motown 25YesterdayTodayForever.  Motown 25: YesterdayTodayForever was originally broadcast on NBC on May 16th, 1983.  This new three-disc DVD presentation marks the first time since its original VHS release in 1983 that the concert has seen the light of day.  Being that this is the first time in just over three decades that it has been released to the public, this edition of Motown 25Yesterday– Today.-Forever is well worth the price and the watch.  The central reason for that is the sheer magnitude of material included in the overall presentation.  Audiences don’t just get the original broadcast.  They get to hear from the concert’s original heads and some of the artists that performed on that night.  Audiences also get a brief yet still insightful history on the famed “Hitsville USA” as a bonus.  Another reason that audiences will enjoy this recording is the overall audio and video mix.  The painstaking efforts undertaken by those charged with restoring the concert’s footage paid off in spades.  Both the audio and video presented here sound and look just as good as the concert’s original broadcast if not better.  Completing the set is its companion booklet.  The booklet includes a brief yet thorough history on the concert and its lasting impact by author Nelson George and Motown 25 EP Suzanne De Passe.  Also included in the companion booklet is a complete guide to the concert’s lineup and bonus material along with full credits listing those behind the show.  The booklet is the final touch to a package that any old school r&b fan and lover of music and music history will appreciate.

Motown 25YesterdayTodayForever is one of the most enjoyable live recorded concerts in the modern history of television.  As enjoyable as it proves to be even today, it sadly is not one that most people think of when they think of major broadcast concerts.  That view will hopefully change though, after watching this presentation.  The amount of material included in this three-disc set alone is more than enough reason for viewers to change their view of Motown 25YesterdayTodayForever.  That vast amount of material includes not just the original concert recording, but a number of bonuses to go along with it.  Those bonuses include roundtable interviews with both the show’s heads and some of the performers, a brief but still thorough history of Hitsville, USA, and even an in-depth look at the very creation of the concert from pre-production to the finished product.  Audiences will be moved to hear the emotion as the show’s heads discuss their favorite memories from the concert.  There are plenty of laughs along the way.  And there are some tears, too.  The history lesson on Hitsville, USA is especially enjoyable for those that might not be so familiar with the history of the label that started it all for so many legends.  And the insight into the concert’s creation will interest anyone with any interest in television production.  Collectively, those bonuses along with the concert itself more than make Motown 25YesterdayTodayForever worth the watch whether one is a lover of old school lover of r&B, a music lover in general or even an individual with a love for music history.  And it is just part of what makes the collection worth the watch, too.  There is far more worth nothing that audiences will appreciate and enjoy just as much.  Another aspect worth noting is the overall quality of the concert’s footage (I.E. its audio and video mix).

The vast amount of material that makes up the body of Motown 25 is by itself more than enough reason for every lover of music.  It is just one part of the whole that makes the viewing experience a joy for audiences within this presentation.  The presentation’s collective audio and video mix adds to the presentation’s enjoyment.  StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment included a disclaimer before Motown 25’s central concert presentation begins stating the footage may have some minor discrepancies at various points throughout the concert.  But audiences will see that if there are any such discrepancies, they are too minute to see with the naked eye.  Those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation in this set are to be commended for their painstaking efforts as they paid off in spades.  That applies both to the audio and video mix.  Every note comes through crystal clear as does every single camera shot.  Again, kudos go out to those responsible for bringing the footage back to life as it most definitely looks and sounds as good as it must have in its original broadcast.

The work that went into restoring the footage from the Motown 25 concert and the amount of material included in the new upcoming box set collectively makes it such an enjoyable experience for anyone that has any love for the classics and for music history in general.  As enjoyable as they make the experience together, the people at Star Vista and Time Life didn’t stop there.  They also included a companion booklet with the set that adds even more depth to the presentation.  The companion booklet included with this three-disc set features its own look back at the Motown 25 concert from the show’s EP, Suzanne De Passe as well as one from author Nelson George, who wrote The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Dance and Style.  Their shared insights offer a look at the concert that echoes the sentiments shared in the round table discussions that were included as bonus features.  Along with the additional insight and background on the concert, the set’s companion booklet also includes a complete song-by-song guide to the concert and bonus features.  And closing it out is a full listing of the names of those responsible for both the original concert and its re-working for its presentation here.  It finishes off a set that is arguably one more of this year’s best new archived live recordings.

Motown 25: YesterdayTodayForever is a diamond in the rough. With its full concert experience, bonus interviews and retrospective roundtable discussions, it offers audiences a concert experience unlike most others released so far this year.  The painstaking efforts on the part of those charged with re-mastering the concert’s original footage make the concert even more enjoyable for audiences.  And the bonus booklet added as a companion to the concert adds even more depth and insight to the show and its importance to the history of both r&b and the music world in whole.  All three factors together make Motown 25: YesterdayTodayForever one of this year’s best new archived live recordings and one that every lover of music will enjoy.  It will be available next Tuesday, September 30th and can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Motown-25-Yesterday-Today-Forever/dp/B00L9OPA56/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1411671053&sr=1-1&keywords=motown+25th+anniversary+television+special.  A special limited edition six-disc set and an expanded limited edition six-DVD/eight-CD set online via the Time Life online store at http://timelife.com/products/motown-25-yesterday-today-forever.  More information on these and other releases from Time Life and StarVista is available online at

Website: http://timelife.com

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

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.

Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies Is One Of This Year’s Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Children’s Albums

Courtesy:  MGP Records

Courtesy: MGP Records

MGP Records’ newly released children’s album Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies is one of the most surprising releases in its genre so far this year.  The album, which was crafted by composer-musician Darryl Tookes and Joe Beck is a beautiful tribute to the memory of Beck, who passed away in 2008.  Beck, like Tookes, was himself a composer and musician.  He wrote and recorded with some of the biggest names in the music industry throughout his life. From Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis to the likes of James Brown, David Sanborn, and Paul Desmond, Beck’s resume was a shining list of who’s who in the music world.  So it goes without saying that when Beck passed in 2008 his friend Darryl Tookes had to wonder if this project would ever see the light of day.  Thank goodness, it did.  That’s because of the pure musical beauty contained from beginning to end in this compilation of songs.  The compilation opens with a catchy, jazzed-up take of the standard ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ that in this critic’s view, boasts quite the Stevie Wonder influence.  It’s a take that will take many by entirely pleasant surprise.  The flowing harmonies and keyboard line in ‘I Love You Too Much’ conjure thoughts of Boyz II Men.  The song is a touching tribute to every young boy out there.  The young ladies out there haven’t been forgotten, either.  As a matter of fact, ‘Daddy’s Girl’ is great for when a young lady is still a little girl or even for the first father-daughter dance at the wedding of any father’s daughter to her suitor.  It boasts its own old school r&b style that will move any dad with a heart to tears of happiness.  All three of the songs noted here are excellent examples of what makes Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies a beautiful surprise of a record.  Audiences will find for themselves in purchasing this album that every single one of the album’s ten tracks will leave a smile on any parent’s face; some songs more so than others.  In the end, audiences will agree that this record is a fitting tribute to the memory of Joe Beck and an equally fitting addition to any parent’s music library.

Tookes and Beck make quite the first impression with this compilation in their jazzed up take on the standard ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.’  That jazzed up feel is the most obvious aspect of the song that audiences will appreciate about it.  This classic poem/song is typically much slower and straight forward.  This more up-tempo take on the song is the polar opposite of that standard sound. One could almost argue that it boasts a celebratory vibe for lack of better wording.  And after hearing it, audiences will agree it is worlds better than that standard format.  Tookes channels Stevie Wonder as he sings poet Jane Taylor’s classic work.  Audiences that hear this song without knowing it is Tookes singing might actually mistake him for Wonder.  That in itself is quite the statement to Tookes’ vocal talents.  Not to be left out, Beck shines with his guitar work alongside Tookes’ vocals.  Their talents alongside the song’s vocal harmonies and the percussion add even more depth and emotion to the song.  That depth and joyful emotion generated through the song makes it clear why it was chosen as the album’s opener.  It makes just as clear that it was the right choice to open the album.

Beck and Tookes’ jazzed up take on ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ was the perfect choice to open this album, especially when taking into consideration the body of the album, closer included. It isn’t the only cover included on the album, either. There is also a medley of nursery rhymes that is just as enjoyable. And the duo’s gentle adaptation of ‘Rock a Bye Baby’ is just as impressive. The pair’s re-imaginings of classic songs aside, there are just as many equally moving originals throughout the album, too. One of those truly great pieces is an ode to sons everywhere in the song ‘I Love You Too Much.’ The gentle strains of the piano set against Tookes’ equally gentle vocals makes a person want to listen. The picture he paints of a father and son’s relationship is something worthy of a music video. This critic already has a vision of a music video in mind just listening to the video as the father and son talk to one another in the song’s verses. And as with the album’s opener, harmonies play a big role in this piece, too; especially in the song’s final moments. The best way to explain the combination of it all is that it is something that truly must be heard to be fully understood and appreciated. And in hearing it, every parent out there will appreciate the pure talent and musicianship exhibited throughout the composition. It is one more work that makes this compilation in whole an absolute for any parent out there.

The cover of the classic children’s poem/song ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and the tribute to every son out there that is ‘I Love You Too Much’ are two absolute gems that shine so brightly one Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies. Every parent that picks up this album will be glad to know that in crafting the album before Beck’s passing, he and Tookes did not forget all of the young princesses out there. Beck and Tookes pay tribute to all of the daughters out there early on in the simply titled ‘Daddy’s Girl.’ All of the parents and daughters alike will be happy to see that this original song is also the first original work included in the compilation. It is the second song overall, yes. But it is the first of the record’s original tunes. So in a sense, one could say that the young ladies out there are getting a double tribute, getting their own song before the boys. Of course, that was meant in the most playful sense possible so as to not offend anyone. The lightly Latin-jazz tinged song is a piece that works whether a young lady is a child or enjoying her first father-daughter dance at her wedding. Tookes sings happily of a daughter, “This is a love/A love like no other love/This is a love/Unlike another/A love like no other I’ll ever know/And so she goes/And as I watch her grow/Daddy’s girl/My daughter/And I love her so/Daddy’s girl/My daughter/And I love her so.” Once again, the harmonies that are so prevalent throughout this record do so much in this piece. The addition of what sounds like bongos in the background alongside a light triangle line adds even more emotion and depth to the whole thing. As with ‘I Love You Too Much’ that depth and emotion makes it so easy to see this song being accompanied by a music video, too. Yes, that is a not so subtle hint to whoever makes those choices. Music video or not, it is one more absolutely beautiful and moving piece that exemplifies what makes Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies one of the most wonderfully surprising children’s albums to be released this year. That is not to discount the album’s other songs, either. The lullaby that is ‘Daddy’s Here’ and the album’s African-influenced title track will impress audiences just as much. Whether it be for those songs or any of the others not noted here, one will come away from this album knowing that in listening to it, they have just experienced something very special. They will know they have just experienced not just a group of songs, but a group of truly thought out and heartfelt songs that dare this critic say is timeless in its own right.

Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies is one of the most surprisingly enjoyable children’s albums to be released this year. From start to finish, every song on this album plays its own part in making this album timeless in its own right. Collectively, they make the album potentially one of the year’s definite best in its category this year. It is available now in stores and online. 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.