The Police’s New Live Recording Is A Mostly Successful Offering

Courtesy: Mercury Studios

For the first time in more than a dozen years, veteran rock band The Police officially released a new live recording this week in the form of Around the World: Restored & Expanded.  Released Friday through Mercury Studios, the recording is the band’s first new live recording since the release of its then latest live recording, Certifiable: Live in Buenos Aires in 2008.  That recording was released through A&M Records.  This latest presentation is such that it will appeal to a wide range of audiences, from the band’s most devoted audiences to even more causal audiences.  That is due in large part to its featured set list, which will be discussed shortly.  The audio’s companion tour documentary that is featured in the set’s DVD and Blu-ray platforms adds its own share of interest.  It will be discussed a little later.  The liner notes penned by The Police guitarist Andy Summers are a welcome companion to the tour documentary and round out the presentation’s most notable elements.  They will also be examined later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered they make Around the World: Restored & Expanded a presentation that most fans of The Police will find enjoyable.

Around the World: Restored & Expanded, the new live recording from The Police, is a presentation that most of the band’s audiences will find appealing.  That is due in large part to its featured set list.  Totaling 11 songs, the set list is pulled from performances that the band held on its then debut global tour in 1980.  The songs presented here were pulled from the band’s first two albums, Outlandos d’Amour (1978) and Reggatta de Blanc (1979).  That 1978 record is the most heavily represented here, with six total songs.  The latter received four nods.  As an added bonus, the rare b-side, ‘Visions of the Night’ is also featured here.  The song was a b-side to the band’s hit single, ‘Walking on the Moon’.  Simply put, what audiences get in this collection of songs is a presentation of The Police from what was at the time still its infancy.  To that end, it is a welcome representation of the band’s catalog at the time.  Keeping that in mind, this aspect is certain to appeal to plenty of audiences.  The only downside to the set list is that it is only made available on the recording’s CD platform.  Given, there are live performances of four of the songs featured in the audio side, but it still would have been great having the entire collection, considering that the tour documentary presented on the DVD and Blu-ray runs only an hour and 23 minutes.  Beggars can’t be choosers, though.  To that end, it is still good to even have this presentation of The Police’s early days both in studio and on the road.

The songs that make up the main body of Around the World: Restored & Expanded are just part of the presentation’s appeal for the band’s noted audiences.  The tour documentary that is featured in the collection’s DVD and Blu-ray presentation will appeal just as much to the noted audiences.  Audiences see the band make its way around the world, from Asia to Australia, to Africa (more specifically Egypt) to South America and to America, audiences are taken along for the band’s ride in its debut world tour.  Along the way, audiences get to see the noted live performances that are also separated as bonus content on the DVD and BD platforms.  While the band is in Asia, audiences get to see Summers take on a sumo wrestler, though some might not really want to see him in the glorified diaper that sumo wrestlers wear.  Yes, that was meant to be a lighthearted statement.  Audiences also get to see the band on board a boat in the waters of what looks like possibly Thailand.  When the band reaches Egypt things get a bit tense.  At first audiences think that a certain discussion had between a group of individuals was acted out, but as Summers points out in his notes, it apparently was not set up.  This will be discussed a little later.  Over in Australia, audiences see the band in the countryside as well as on stage.  Overall, the documentary builds on the foundation formed by the recording’s audio side and enhances the concert experience that much more for the noted audiences.

Building on the presentation that is the documentary are the liner notes penned by Summers.  As already pointed out, Summers explains that the band’s stay in Egypt was anything but good.  Summers explains that a comment made by Sting to an Egyptian official and his initial refusal to take back what he said almost caused an international incident.  Another incident was narrowly avoided in one South American country when Summers apparently had a physical altercation of sorts with a law enforcement official at a concert.  These two items will be left for audiences to discover for themselves, but they definitely build on the experience even more.  That is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is the liner notes.  Summers also writes in his notes that the band had yet another close call in New Zealand, yet again involving law enforcement.  This is yet another intriguing anecdote that will be left for audiences to read about for themselves.  Between this story, the others pointed out here and everything else that Summers recalls in his notes, the overall content in the recording’s companion booklet puts the finishing touch to the presentation and ensures that much more that the band’s established audiences and casual fans alike will appreciate the presentation.  When this content, the audio, and video are all considered, they leave no doubt that the noted audiences will find plenty to appreciate about the recording.

Around the World: Restored and Expanded is a presentation that most fans of The Police will find enjoyable.  That is due in large part to the recording’s featured songs.  They are in themselves a strong representation of the band in its infancy.  That is because the songs that make up the main body of the recording are all pulled from the band’s first two albums.  There is even a rare b-side included in the mix for good measure.  The tour documentary that accompanies the performances makes for its own interest.  That is because it takes audiences along for the ride with the band on its first-ever world tour.  Audiences get to see firsthand, much of what the band experienced, including the high and occasional not so high points.  The liner notes penned by The Police guitarist Andy Summers work directly with the documentary to enhance the viewing experience therein.  That is because they are those firsthand notes.  They take audiences even deeper into the band’s tour and finish off the overall presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Around the World: Restored & Expanded a presentation that most fans of The Police will find a welcome new offering from the band and from Mercury Studios.

Around the World: Restored & Expanded is available now. More information on the recording is available along with all of the latest news from The Police at:




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Weekes’ ”Round Midnight’ Compilation Re-Issue Mostly Succeeds

Courtesy: Amber Inn Records

Jazz vocalist Amber Weekes is scheduled to re-issue her 2002 album ‘Round Midnight again Friday.  Originally released in 2002 as a promotional presentation for clubs and festivals, the 12-song album was re-issued in 2007 through Sunset Records according to information provided through AllMusic.  The compilation’s forthcoming re-issue is an intriguing presentation, especially among the year’s current field of re-issues.  While the recording has added the word “Re-Imagined” to its title, the only new aspect here from its previous releases is its production, making for a bit of a concern.  While this concern is unavoidable, the album is not a total failure.  The songs that make up the compilation’s body and the way in which Weekes’ uses them makes for at least some interest.  This will be discussed shortly.  Weekes’ performance of said songs is also of note.  It will also be examined later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, ‘Round Midnight Re-Imagined proves itself a presentation that will appeal to audiences who do not already own ‘Round Midnight.

Amber Weekes’ forthcoming re-issue of her album ‘Round Midnight is a presentation that will find appeal among a targeted audience base.  Its appeal among those audiences comes primarily through the songs that make up the compilation’s body.  According to information featured in the record’s liner notes, the songs are meant to help tell a “story” of sorts.  The story in question is not some concept piece per se.  Rather, it is that of life in the Sugar Hill region of Harlem centralized in Weekes’ Luncheonette, a real business that was owned and operated by Weekes’ grandparents.  The notes, penned by San Francisco Chronicle writer Andrew Gilbert, point out that famed figures, such as actor Sidney Poitier, jazz pianist/composer Due Ellington, and saxophonist Sonny Rollins patronized the business.  He notes in his writing that the songs (E.g. Johnny Mercer’s ‘One For My Baby,’ MarcosValle’s ‘Summer Samba,’ Cole Porter’s ‘Lovers’) are meant to tell the story passed down to her by her family.  The songs are meant to set the mood while also telling the story of life in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem.  The approach is not unique per se.  However, that the songs are used to tell a story, requiring listeners to use their imagination so as to see the story in their own minds is a positive approach.  Add in the fact that not all of the songs covered in this compilation are the run-of-the-mill standards, but rather some lesser-known songs (and lesser-known artists) and the songs prove even more important to the compilation.  That and the manner in which the songs are used makes for even more appeal here.  Keeping all of this in mind, the musical selections featured in ‘Round Midnight Re-Imagined are in themselves reason enough for the noted targeted audiences to hear this covers set.

There is no denying that the songs (and artists) featured in ‘Round Midnight Re-Imagined form a solid foundation for this re-issue.  At the same time, they are the same songs and artists featured in the record’s initial 202 promotional release and its 2007 Sunset Records re-issue.  The only “new” aspect of this latest presentation of ‘Round Midnight is the production, which also includes some newly added string arrangements here and there.  That work paid off, too and should not be ignored.  Where added, the string arrangements add an appealing touch to those works.  The problem here is the use of the word “Re-Imagined.”  The addition of the strings to some of the songs and the re-mastering are the only aspects that really make the record “re-imagined.”  What’s more, the liner notes do not point out which of the songs feature the added strings.  That means that audiences who are unfamiliar with the original works will not even know which songs to compare.   There are no extra covers or even original works featured here.  Keeping all of this in mind, the simple use of the term “re-imagined” proves somewhat misrepresentative.  It creates in listeners’ minds, an expectation of something noticeably different from the compilation’s initial release and any other re-issues.  In reality, what audiences get is a minimally “re-imagined” collection of covers at best.  Luckily, the concerns raised through this marketing shortfall are not enough to doom the recording.  It is just a matter that one cannot ignore and does detract from the compilation’s appeal.  Now keeping this in mind, it is the compilation’s only negative.  Weekes’ performances of the record’s featured songs works with the songs and how they are used to make the record’s presentation more appealing.

Weekes’ performances of the songs featured in ‘Round Midnight Re-Imagined makes for its own share of appeal for the compilation.  Her performance of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s ‘My Romance’ for instance is very much a different take from the original.  The piano and sax featured in the original are replaced by a mix of late 80s/early 90s R&B what with the pairing of Weekes’ vocals and the keyboard, and a string arrangement.  The whole at times makes the arrangement sound like it belongs in the soundtrack to Paramount Pictures’ 1961 classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Now some might try to argue that this plays into the “re-imagined” label, and maybe so, but again, it was also a re-imagining of the original in the compilation’s previous releases.  So that negates that argument.  That aside it is still an impressive performance, regardless. 

Weeke’s performance of Sting’s ‘Sister Moon’ and George and Ira Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ is another example of the importance of her performances here.  In the case of these two songs, Weekes performances (and those of her fellow musicians) is a relatively close to the originals.  Just as interesting is the closeness in sound and style between Sting’s work and that of George and Ira Gershwin.  The two songs actually do sound like they belong together, so it makes sense that Weekes would join them in this presentation.  When the performances of these two songs, that of ‘My Romance’ and those of the compilation’s other songs are all considered together, they collectively show a real devotion on the part of Weekes and company to pay tribute to the songs’ source material while also giving listeners something at least somewhat unique.  That clear attempt to balance new and old ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment in itself.  The appeal that this insures along with that generated through the songs and the manner in which they are used here gives audiences plenty of reason to hear this unique covers collection.

Amber Weekes’ forthcoming re-issue of her covers compilation, ‘Round Midnight Re-Imagined is an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new re-issues and covers records.  That is due in part to the songs featured in the record and how they are used.  The songs are a mix of well- and lesser-known works as are the artists who crafted the works.  Weekes uses the songs to tell a story that is original and real.  It is not a concept story.  That is unique in itself and makes for reason enough in itself to hear this record.  While the songs and their use makes a strong foundation for its presentation, the fact that the changes between the original record and this latest re-issue detracts from the presentation.  That is due to the mis-use of the word “re-imagined.”  The only re-imagining between the original record and this re-issue is the addition of some string arrangements and re-mastering.  Even more, one has to wonder if the “re-imagining” done here was also done in the album’s 2007 re-issue.  That wonder detracts from the record’s appeal even more.  Even with the concerns that are raised through the record’s marketing here, they are not enough to make the record a failure.  The performances presented by Weekes and her fellow musicians work with the songs to make for even more appeal.  That is because they show a valid (and successful) attempt to balance honoring each song’s source material with giving audiences something unique.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation.  All things considered, they make the record a presentation that will appeal primarily to fans of Weekes who do not already own the set in its previous iterations.  ‘Round Midnight Re-Imagined is scheduled for release Friday through Amber Inn Records.  More information on the compilation is available along with all of Weekes’ latest news at:




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PBS’ Richard Sherman Studio “Concert” Hits All The Right Notes For Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Live DVDs/BDs List

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Experiencing a live performance by one’s favorite acts is a special experience.  The sights and sounds — from the performance itself to the enjoyment and excitement experienced alongside other fans — come together to make the live experience something almost as magical as it is memorable.  Of course it’s not always that easy to have that experience because of work, family or maybe other items.  Enter the live DVD and Blu-ray.  These recordings are pivotal for audiences the world over because people don’t always get to see their favorite acts.  They also often prove to give audiences an experience that is at least slightly different from that offered in their CD counterparts.  Keeping that in mind, it is fully justifiable for critics to present lists of the year’s top new live DVDs and Blu-rays as well as live CDs.  That is exactly what this critic is doing here.

This year, as with so many years past, Eagle Rock Entertainment has proven to have the majority of the year’s top new live DVDs and Blu-rays, once again proving why it is the leader in live recordings.  Of course it is not the only label represented in this critic’s list this year.  Live recordings from The Winery Dogs, The Dead Daisies, and even famed songwriter Richard Sherman (one half of the famed Sherman Brothers creative team) are all on the list, too alongside new material from Between The Buried and Me and Michael Schenker.  Those noted recordings are all from other labels.  In other words, this year saw a healthy range of new live DVDs and Blu-rays.  With that in mind, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Live DVDs and Blu-rays.  As always, the list includes this critic’s Top 10 choices as well as five additional honorable mention titles, for a total of 15 titles.  Let’s go!


  1. Richard ShermanSongs of a Lifetime
  2. Tedeschi Trucks Band — Live From The Fox Oakland
  3. Slipknot — Day of the Gusano
  4. Mumford & Sons — Live From South Africa
  5. Between The Buried and Me — Coma Ecliptic
  6. Black Sabbath — The End
  7. Jeff Beck — Live at the Hollywood Bowl
  8. The Rolling Stones — Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015
  9. The Who — Tommy Live at the Royal Albert Hall
  10. The Winery Dogs — Dog YearsLive in Santiago and Beyond 2013 – 2016
  11. Eagles of Death Metal — I Love You All The Time — Live at the Olympia Paris
  12. Sting — Live at the Olympia Paris
  13. Spock’s Beard — Snow Live
  14. The Dead Daisies — Live & Louder
  15. Michael Schenker — Michael Schenker Fest Live Tokyo International Forum Hall

That’s all for this list and still not all for the live recordings.  Still to consider is the whole of the combo packs and the standalone recordings.  In other words, there is still a list of the year’s top new live recordings overall to consider.  Also still on the way are the year’s top new albums as well as a handful of DVD and Blu-ray lists.  As many as possible will be covered before the year lets out, so stay tuned for all of that.

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Sting Gives Audiences Plenty To Appreciate In His Latest Live Recording

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Veteran musician/actor Sting has been entertaining audiences the world over for the better part of four decades on the stage and screen. Over the course of that time, Sting (A.K.A. Gordon Thomas Matthew Sumner) has earned countless accolades and seemingly endless acclaim for his work. Now with the release of his latest live recording, Live at the Olympia Paris, Sting is certain to gain even more accolades and acclaim. That is because there is so much to say to the positive about this recording, released Nov. 10 via Eagle Rock Entertainment, beginning with the concert’s extensive set list. It will be discussed shortly. The bonus performances included with the main feature are just as important to discuss in examining the recording as the show’s main set list. The performance put on by Sting and company throughout the main set and bonus performances rounds out the recording’s most important elements. Each element is unquestionably important in its own right to the recording’s whole. All things considered, they make Live at the Olympia Paris truly more proof of why Sting is one of the music industry’s most respected names to this very day.

Live at the Olympia Paris, the latest live recording from veteran performer Sting is is proof positive of why he remains today one of the music industry’s most respected names. This recording presents plenty for audiences to appreciate beginning with its extensive set list. The concert’s 23-song main feature takes audiences all the way back to The Police’s 1978 debut record Outlandos d’Amour and all the way up to his most recent album, 2016’s 57th & 9th. While not every one of his 12 solo records was represented here or all four records from The Police, the set list still presents a healthy cross section of his career. Four of five records from the Police — Outlandos d’Amour, Reggatta de Blanc, Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity — each get nods in this set list. Almost half of Sting’s 12 solo records — …Nothing Like The Sun,Ten Summoner’s Tales, Mercury Falling, Brand New Day and 57th & 9th — get nods in this set that also includes covers of songs from David Bowie and Bill Withers. 57th & 9th gets the most nods with a total of six songs while Ten Summoner’s Tales sees three of its songs featured. …Nothing Like The Sun gets two songs on the set list while Mercury Falling and Brand New Day each get two numbers. Would it have been possible to include one song from every one of his albums, both solo and as a member of The Police? The answer is yes, but that would have only put the set list at 16 songs. Not only that, but it would also have left little room and choice for multiple songs from that overall body of work. Keeping that in mind, having 21 songs pulled from nine albums (more than half of his overall body of work) is impressive to say the very least.

As if the cross section represented in this set list is not enough, its order is just as important to note. Audiences will note in examining the set list that it never spends too much time focusing on one album or another. The set’s first two songs are lifted from his days with The Police. From there, Sting and company jump to …Nothing Like The Sun (1987) for the third song before jumping all the way to 2016 and Sting’s latest album 57th & 9th for the next two songs. From there on out, the set list jumps back and forth throughout Sting’s career nonstop, again giving audiences a healthy representation of his work while also keeping the concert’s energy balanced throughout. That well-thought-out organization, couple with the very cross section presented in this set, shows clearly why the show’s set list is so critical to the recording’s whole. Even as important as it is to the recording, it is only one of the recording’s key elements. The bonus performances included in the recording are just as important to its whole as the main feature.

The bonus set list that is included with the concert features only one of Sting’s works — ‘Heading South on the Great North Road,’ which is taken from 57th & 9th, while the rest of the songs come from Sting’s son Joe Sumner and his band, The Last Bandaleros. This is key to note because it shows Sting giving his son the chance to tour with him while also developing his own identity and fan base from that of his dad. It’s basically a dual purpose scenario. What’s really interesting to note of the group’s songs is the stylistic differences and similarities between their compositions and those from Sting. ‘Take Me To It’ for instance boasts a distinctly bluesy composition while ‘Looking for Me, Looking for You’ presents a decidedly radio friendly pop arrangement that in its own right sounds similar to some of Sting’s works. At the same time, it does separate itself from his songs because of that sound. ‘I Don’t Want To Know’ meanwhile presents an arrangement that is rooted in a decidedly South of the Border sound. The other bonus songs present their own similarities and differences, too. Those similarities and differences generate plenty of appreciation for the group and even for Sumner in his own right. When those songs are set alongside the songs featured in the recording’s main feature, the whole of the two sets give audiences plenty to enjoy and appreciate. All in all, they are not the recording’s only key elements. The musicians’ performances round out the recording’s most important elements.

The groups’ performances of the recording’s set lists are important to discuss because, as with any act’s performance, are what makes or break the songs. Luckily for audiences, both groups shine in their respective performances. Drummer Josh Freese, who has made a name for himself playing with the likes of A Perfect Circle, The Vandals, Guns N’ Roses and others shines once again as he keeps time for Sting and company. Meanwhile guitarists Dominic and Rufus Miller both give their all along with Sting in each song, even in the set’s slower, more reserved moments. Hearing Sting casually interact with his French audience in its native tongue adds to his performance. That is because it shows a certain level of respect for the audience since he obviously didn’t just happen to say a few short phrases, but make full conversation with the audience. Even non-French-speaking audiences will agree that this minor detail adds so much to Sting’s performance as it creates respect for him by audiences. Between that and the energy put into each song’s performance, the groups’ performances go a long way toward making these performances al lthe more enjoyable. When one adds in the show’s separate and extensive set lists, they make the recording in whole another enjoyable addition to any Sting fan’s home library. That is the case even with the editing issues raised in the concert.

Sting’s latest live recording Live at the Olympia Paris is overall, an impressive new live effort from the veteran performer. That is due in part to an extensive set list that reaches all the way back to Sting’s earliest days with The Police and even all the way up to his most recent album, 2016’s 57th & 9th. The bonus songs from Sting’s son Joe Sumner and The Last Bandaleros gives them a unique opportunity to introduce themselves to audiences. The groups’ performances round out the recording’s most important elements. Each noted element is important in its own right to this recording’s whole. All things considered, the elements noted here make Live at the Olympia Paris a presentation that the veteran performer’s fans will agree is worth the watch. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Live at the Olympia Paris is available along with all of Sting’s latest news and more at:




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




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Thorogood & Company Put On A Real Rock Party In Their First Ever Montreux Show

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Eagle Rock Entertainment and Montreux Sounds formed a new landmark business partnership a year or so ago.  The partnership in question allowed Eagle Rock distribution rights for a number of new and archived shows that were recorded at what is one of music’s most revered festivals.  And the recordings in question have been nothing short of impressive.  From the likes of Miles Davis, Stan Getz, and Etta James to newer acts such as The Raconteurs, the Montreux Jazz Festival has seen some of the industry’s top names take its storied stages.  Now, one more piece of the legendary festival’s history has been released to the masses in the form of George Thorogood & The Destroyers Live at Montreux 2013.  The concert, which was recorded this past July, marked the first time that Thorogood and his band mates—Jeff Simon (drums), Bill Blough (bass), Jim Suhler (guitar/vocals), and Buddy Leach (saxophone)–had ever performed at the venue.  And Thorogood himself makes note of his excitement at getting to finally perform at Montreux after more than two decades.  That excitement pored over throughout the band’s entire performance, too.  It’s one of the key factors of this recording that makes it so fun to take in.  The band’s set list is another reason that fans will enjoy this recording.  Thorogood and his band mates hit on every one of their major hit songs.  There is even a tribute to Johnny Cash thrown in for good measure.  If that isn’t enough for fans, the combination of the recording’s bonus interview and companion booklet will push the recording over the top.  They, along with the set list and the band’s performance, make this recording one more huge success from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Montreux Sounds.

George Thorogood has been making music and performing for over four decades.  So it comes as quite the surprise that 2013 marked the first time that he and his band mates played the famed Montreux Jazz Festival.  The festival, which started out mainly as a venue for the top names in jazz and blues, has grown each year to incorporate bands and artists from across the musical spectrum.  Thorogood and his band mates obviously held no ill will toward festival organizers when they took the stage at the festival.  Thorogood makes no bones concerning his excitement at finally being invited to perform at Montreux.  His positive energy isn’t confined to just that one moment, either.  From the high energy opener that is ‘Rock Party’ to hits like ‘I Drink Alone’, ‘Bad to the Bone’, and ‘Madison Blues’, the band exudes so much energy and excitement.  The audience in attendance feeds off of every bit of that excitement, too.  The mutual sharing of excitement and energy can be felt even by viewers watching this recording from the comfort of their own living rooms or bedrooms.  Home viewers may even find themselves feeding off of that excitement, dancing around and playing air guitar, etc.  That shows just how much fun Thorogood and company make their performance for all of their audiences.  Home viewers will discover this for themselves when they order or purchase the recording for themselves on DVD and Blu-ray.

The positive energy and excitement exuded by Thorogood and company is key to the overall enjoyment of this recording.  Whether one is seeing the concert for the first time or reliving the concert again, everybody can agree that the band’s stage performance alone is enough reason to take in this concert.  Just as important to the overall enjoyment of this concert recording is the set list chosen for the performance.  Fans won’t be disappointed at the set list chosen for the concert.  The veteran rockers included all of their fan favorites over the course of the near ninety-minute set.  From the likes of ‘I Drink Alone’ to the band’s now famous cover of John Lee Hooker’s ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’ to the Johnny Cash tribute in ‘Cocaine Blues’, the band leaves little if anything on the table.  Audiences will especially appreciate that in the tribute to the late country singer, Thorogood actually seems to channel him.  He actually sounds like Cash, vocally speaking, at points in the song.  The same can be said of his guitar work, too.  It is just one of so many high points offered throughout the course of the concert.  And it’s just one more part of what makes the recording as a whole so enjoyable for audiences of all ages.  It’s not the last, either.  The bonus interview and companion booklet included in with the DVD and Blu-ray put the finishing touch on this recording.

The songs chosen for this concert and the band’s performance collectively make up the most important and impressive part of this latest recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Montreux Sounds.  There is still one part of the overall presentation of this recording that puts it over the top.  That last part ifs the collective bonus interview and companion booklet.  The show’s bonus sit-down with Thorogood shows that the persona presented on stage was as real as it comes.  Audiences get even more insight into his excitement over playing Montreux at long last.  And through the show’s companion booklet, audiences get a brief history of Thorogood’s career leading up to his performance at Montreux.  Audiences will be interested to learn that along with George Thorogood and The Destroyers, ZZ Top was at Montreux this year, as were Prince, Sting, Ben Harper, Deep Purple, Leonard Cohen, and so many others.  It’s just a tiny piece of the whole history that audiences will enjoy learning in reading through the included literature.  And together with everything already mentioned, that history and the bonus interview make this presentation complete.  It all collectively makes this latest release one more huge success from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Montreux Sounds.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Amazon at  More information on this and other concerts in Eagle Rock’s ongoing Montreux series of concerts is available online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Serj Tankian Releasing Two New Albums This Summer


Courtesy:  Serjical Strike Records

Courtesy: Serjical Strike Records


System of a Down front man Serj Tankian will release two new albums this Summer via his own Serjical Strike Records.  The first of the two new records, Orca will be released first on June 25th.  It will be followed up with the experimental jazz album, Jazz-iz Christ on July 23rdOrca mixes influences of Twentieth Century composers with works written for modern films, showing a vast expanse of influences.  Among those influences are the likes of Philip Glass and Ennio Morricone.  It was originally composed in Tankian’s home studio, and came to fruition thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that helped bring it to life.  Conductor Werner Steinmetz held the baton for the recording of the records four acts. 

Courtesy:  Serjical Strike Records

Courtesy: Serjical Strike Records

Jazz-iz Christ, the second of Tankian’s upcoming release this Summer, started with just Tankian himself.  From there, it grew into a large collaborative effort that included work from:  pianist Tigran Hamasyan, flautist Valeri Tolstov, and trumpet player Tom Duprey.  Also making appearances on the new record are Stewart Copeland (The Police), actor/musician Davis Alpay, and Vincent Pedulla.  The album contains a total of fifteen compositions, most of which are instrumental, save for four songs.  That group of songs mix together progressive jazz, electronic, ethnic and rock elements. 

Both Orca and  Jazz-iz Christ will be available worldwide on iTunes, Amazon, and other online outlets including Tankian’s own website, and the Serjical Strike website,  Pre-orders for the deluxe limited editions of Orca begin this Wednesday, May 1st.  The deluxe limited edition of Orca includes a 180-gram picture disc, swag, and a signed copy of the actual score for the record.  Pre-orders for Jazz-iz Christ begin Wednesday, May 15th.  Audiences can check out audio samples of both records at the Serjical Strike Records website. 

A tour in support of both records will be held beginning September 19th at the Ukraina Hall in Ukraine.  The tour will come on the heels of the current System of a Down tour.  The current list of tour dates in support of Tankian’s new records is available below.  More dates will be announced at a later date.  To keep up with all of the latest tour information and news from Serj Tankian, fans can follow him on Facebook at and on his official website,

19 Sep 13 Thu Kiev Ukraine Ukraina Hall
21 Sep 13 Sat Yekaterinburg Russia Kosmos Hall
23 Sep 13 Mon Novosibirsk Russia DK Zheleznodorozhnik
25 Sep 13 Wed Krasnoyarsk Russia Philharmony
27 Sep 13 Fri Moscow Russia Crocus City Hall
28 Sep 13 Sat St. Petersburg Russia Orjktybyrsky Concert Hall
03 Oct 13 Thu Florence Italy Teatro Comunale
04 Oct 13 Fri Padova Italy Gran Teatro Geox
05 Oct 13 Sat Rome Italy Auditorium Parco Della Musica


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The Musical Brain Will Strike The Right Note With Many Audiences

Courtesy: PBS/National Geographic Channel/Bell Benefits Fund/Ontario Media Development Corporation/CTV/Rogers Documentary Fund

Music is one of the most powerful forces in the world.  It has the power to make a gray day blue.  It has the power to make people fall in love.  And it even has the power to unite a nation.  For the power that music has, one has to wonder how exactly it manages to do that.  That’s the subject of PBS and National Geographic’s “The Musical Brain.”  In this new special, former record producer turned behavioral scientist Dr. Daniel Levitin delves into the depths of the human mind to find out how the musical brain works.

In this near hour long special, Dr. Levitin teams up with music legend Sting to try and figure out how exactly music affects the human brain.  The results of this special are rather interesting.  One of the most intriguing findings from this special is that children can begin to at least hear certain musical patterns even while they are still in the womb.  And once they are born, those children can actually begin to comprehend at least at a basic level, certain semi-complex musical patterns and sounds.  On the other end of the spectrum, it presents an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s who while her memory may be largely gone, her musical memory is as fresh as ever.  It explains that she remembers with near perfection how she can remember songs that she had heard in her youth.  To add to it, when someone tests her by singing some wrong notes in one of those songs, she cringes at the notes.  Not only does that show how strong her musical memory is, but also her comprehension of certain musical tones.  That in itself is truly interesting.  It goes a long way to show the brain’s capabilities, even when it has been damaged.

Audiences get to see in watching “The Musical Brain” the power of music on the brain, and the brain’s ability to maintain that comprehension of music.  Students, musicians, therapists, and psychologists will enjoy the discussions of the impact of music on the human brain.  Medical doctors and psychiatrists will find just as intriguing the actual processes that go on inside the brain in the course of listening to and even performing and writing music.  Dr. Levitin talks with Sting, showing him how his brain actually reacted to certain styles of music that were played for him.  What’s funniest to note about this is how little activity was occurring in the brain when Muzak was played for him.  Sting jokes about how Muzak is the single least appealing form of music there is to him.  Yet when other forms of music were played, his brain was highly active.  Findings from similar studies show that each person reacts differently to different styles of music.

Ultimately, through this special, one thing does stand out.  As it notes in its closing moments, while studies are still being done, there is still no way to pinpoint what draws certain people to certain music.  And it is also still not known how exactly the brain develops to lead some to be musicians and not others.  But as the musicians interviewed for the special note, that’s kind of like a world mystery.  It wouldn’t be intriguing if that were figured out.  What’s most important is that music is the powerful force that it is, and that should be enough for everyone. 

“The Musical Brain” is available now.  It can be ordered direct via PBS’ website at

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