Grown-Ups Will Enjoy The Story Pirates’ New Album As Much As Children

Courtesy: Face Cake Records

Whether one is a parent, educator, or just music lover, one cannot deny that family music albums are constantly some great entertainment. That is due to the musical diversity that so many of those albums offer, as well as oftentimes, the records’ lyrical content.  This critic has proven this time and again over the years, even as recent as this year.  The Story Pirates’ new album The Strawberry Band is no exception to that rule.  Scheduled for release Friday through Face Cake Records, the 12-song record will entertain audiences of all ages just as much as the band’s existing albums and just as much as any family music act’s offerings past and present.  That is due in no small part to the overall approach to this record.  It will be discussed shortly.  The record’s featured musical arrangements add their own appeal to the album and will be discussed a little later.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical content puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the album one more candidate for a spot on this year’s top new family music albums.

The Story Pirates’ forthcoming album The Strawberry Band is an outstanding addition to this year’s field of new family music albums.  It stands out among this year’s field of new releases in part because of the approach that the band took to the record, making it a fun, family friendly concept album.  Yes, it is a concept album.  Few children’s albums out there can say they are concept works, considering that such works are saved more for grown-up albums.  The closest that any family music act’s work comes to being concept are Doctor Noize’s stories of Phineas McBoof, who is a musical monkey.  Getting back to The Story Pirates’ new album, the story featured in this record centers on a Beatles-esque band called….well…The Strawberry Band.  The set-up story, which opens the album, was developed by one of the band’s 5 year-old fans.  The rest of the songs that feature throughout were allegedly developed through story ideas presented to the band by its many young fans.  That the band would so openly and warmly develop a record – and a concept record no less – that was essentially made by and for its fans makes this approach especially unique and appealing.  The work that the band did to connect the overall concept is just as unique.  So all in all, the approach that the band took to this its fourth album is something special in its own right.  It in itself makes this record well worth hearing.  It is just one part of what makes the album so appealing.  The musical arrangements that make up the record’s body add their own appeal to the presentation.

The musical arrangements featured throughout The Strawberry Band are so important to note because of their diversity.  Right from the record’s outset, listeners are treat to a work in ‘The Strawberry Band’ that is a catchy, funky, bass-driven work that sounds like it came right out of the  1960s and 70s.  That this Beatles-inspired band is basically supposed to be performing the work adds to the special touch.  It will put a smile on any listener’s face.  Parents and older listeners in general will especially love the little tribute to The Beatles’ ‘Hold Your Hand’ that is incorporated into the song.  The hip-hop/vintage R&B sound of its immediate follow-up, ‘The Case of the Musical Cinnamon Buns’ will appeal just as much to audiences of all ages while the silly story of…well…musical cinnamon buns will entertain younger listeners.  That musical approach is so infectious.  It will introduce younger listeners to such a great genre while also offering something equally entertaining for older audiences.  As if that is not enough, those familiar with pop music from recent years will recognize a comparison to Taio Cruz’s hit song ‘Dynamite’ in ‘Hedgie in the Cloud Kingdom,’ which comes a little later in the album’s 42-minute run time.  The similarity is not a mirror image, but it is close enough that audiences will easily make the connection.  On yet another note, ‘Glowy and the Friend Adventure,’ the album’s mid-point, is just as easily comparable to Jason Mraz’s hit song ‘I’m Yours.’  Again, it is not an exact copy, what with the use of the muted trombone and overall approach.  However, the general, overall sound makes no doubt, the influence.  To that end, it will entertain older listeners just as much as any of the album’s other musical arrangements.  On yet another note, there is even a comparison to Alanis Morisette’s classic rock hit ‘You Oughta Know’ in ‘The Night I Started Sharing a Room With My Sister.’  Once again, the comparison is not precise, but the vocals, drums, bass, and guitar still make that comparison relatively obvious.  So yet again, here is a way for the album’s musical content to appeal to older audiences just as much as children.  The tributes to classic music do not end there.  The brief ‘The Strawberry Band (Reprise)’ pays tribute to George Harrison’s ‘Got My Mind Set On You,’  adding even more to the record’s musical appeal.   Those songs (and others featured here) will also serve as a starting point for those older audiences to introduce their own children to their music and bond with them even more in the process.  Keeping all of this in mind, it should be clear why the musical arrangements featured throughout this album are so important to its presentation.  When they are considered along with the album’s very approach, that whole more than makes the band’s new forthcoming album a pleasure to hear.  They are just a portion of what makes the album enjoyable.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical content and story put the finishing touch to the presentation.

The lyrical content that is featured in The Strawberry Band is important to note because it is just as diverse as the record’s musical content.  As already noted, one of the album’s early entries – ‘The Case of the Musical Cinnamon Buns – is about a bunch of musical cinnamon buns. It is just a fun, random story.  There is also a story about a fairy that lacked wings featured here.  The song delivers a message to listeners about taking pride in one’s self even if one might not look like others or have the same abilities as others.  This is a message that again, listeners of all ages will appreciate.  It adds even more enjoyment and importance to the album’s lyrical content overall.  The band also promotes making friends with a diverse range of individuals because of their diversity through ‘Glowy and the Friend Adventure.’  This is (sadly) a message that grown-ups should heed just as much as children.  That is especially the case today considering the world’s current social climate.  These noted songs and the album’s others were from the band’s young listeners, making them all the more impacting, when one takes the silly and serious all fully into account.  It all comes together to show without any doubt, just how important the album’s lyrical content is to its presentation.  When all of this is considered along with the importance and impact of the album’s musical content and overall approach, the whole makes The Strawberry Band a “sweet” new offering from The Story Pirates.


The Story Pirates forthcoming album The Strawberry Band is a presentation that will appeal just as much to grown-ups as it will to children.  That is proven in part through the record’s approach.  The approach in question is that of a concept album.  Few other family music albums make and have ever made concept albums for the whole family.  The record’s featured story is itself unique, making for even more appeal.  The musical arrangements that are presented throughout the story offer plenty for children and grown-ups alike plenty to enjoy.  They will in turn, make for a great way for families to bond just over this aspect.  The lyrical themes, which are presented from stories sent to the band by its young fans, add even more diversity to the album.  Some are silly.  Some are serious.  They are all accessible for listeners of all ages and presented in equally accessible fashion.  They put the finishing touch the album.  When they are considered along with the album’s approach, its story, and its musical arrangements, that whole makes The Strawberry Band an easy candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family music albums.  It is scheduled for release Friday through Face Cake Records

More information on The Story Pirates’ new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://storypirates.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/storypirates

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/storypirates

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Saxon Takes On A Classic From The Beatles For Its Latest Single

Courtesy: Silver Linings Music

Saxon is giving audiences yet another preview of its forthcoming covers compilation.

The band debuted its take on The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ Friday, along with the cover’s companion lyric video. The cover is the third single from Saxon’s forthcoming covers compilation, Inspirations, which is scheduled for release March 19 through Silver Linings Music. The collection also features covers of Deep Purple’s ‘Speed King‘ and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint it Black.’

Saxon front man Biff Byford noted during a recent interview, his appreciation for The Beatles is far-reaching.

“I saw The Beatles on TV for the first time in 1963,” he said. “It was a very inspirational moment for me to think maybe I could be in a band!”

Saxon’s take on ‘Paperback Writer’ stays true to its source material, but amps it up considerably. The song takes on more of an arena rock type work here versus the more pop rock approach taken in The Beatles’ original.

The track listing for Inspirations is noted below.  Pre-orders are open.

Track Listing:

  1. Paint It Black
  2. Immigrant Song
  3. Paperback Writer
  4. Evil Woman
  5. Stone Free
  6. Bomber
  7. Speed King
  8. The Rocker
  9. Hold The Line
  10. Problem Child
  11. See My Friends

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

Websitehttps://www.saxon747.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/saxon

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/SaxonOfficial

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.

The Story Pirates Debuts Video For New LP’s Lead Single; Announces Podast’s Mid-Season Premiere Date, Return Of Band’s ‘SPTV’ Series

Courtesy: Sugar Mountain PR

Family entertainment group The Story Pirates will release its new album this spring.

The group is scheduled to release its next album The Strawberry Band April 2. In anticipation of the album’s release, the band debuted the video for the album’s lead single this week. The band debuted the video for the song ‘Fun Crazy Weird Hair Store‘ Friday through Geekdad and the “Absolutely Mindy” show on Sirius XM Kids Place Live.

The song is a light, kindie-pop style composition. Its easygoing guitar, piano, vocals, and simple time keeping makes it an infectious work. The song’s lyrical content is based on a short story crafted by a 9 year-old Story Pirates fan. It is one of a handful of stories crafted by children that make up the album, which itself is a tribute to concept albums.

The story behind is considered a “Beatles-esque” story that itself was crafted by a 5 year-old fan of The Story Pirates. According to information about the album, the band has dreams of stardom, but turns into strawberries every time it hits the stage. Throughout the album, the band, which created its own concept album, shows up as it tries to evade a strawberry-eating shark. The other stories that appear in this concept album about The Strawberry Band feature items, such as cinnamon buns, a wingless fairy, and a hedgehog.

The Strawberry Band is The Story Pirates’ fourth album.

In other news, The Story Pirates is scheduled to resume the fourth season of its podcast the same day as the release of its new album. It will feature 20 more episodes that will run through July,

Season Four opens with a Johnny Cash-style song that is based on a story titled ‘I’m Toast, Man!’ The song is based on a story written by a 6 year-old fan of The Story Pirates.

Season Four also features a new story, “The Adventures of Harold Jordan.” The story was adapted from a story crafted by one of The Story Pirates’ 9 year-old fans.

New music and stories are just a portion of what audiences have to look forward to from The Story Pirates when its fourth season resumes. Actor Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock, Phineas & Ferb) will join The Story Pirates for its mid-season premiere.

In even more news, The Story Pirates’ Los Angeles-based audiences can look forward to new episodes of its SPTV soon. The series runs on the region’s PBS affiliate, KLCS. The series encourages young viewers to use their imaginations to write original stories. It does this by taking viewers into stories written by other young viewers.

Story Pirates Creator Club members have full access to the show. Sample episodes of SPTV are streaming through YouTube.

More information on The Story Pirates’ new album, podcasts and SPTV episodes is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: https://storypirates.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/storypirates

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

L.A. Guns Debuts New Single, ‘You Can’t Walk Away’

Courtesy: Golden Robot Records

L.A. Guns debuted its latest single this week.

The band debuted its new single ‘You Can’t Walk Away‘ Thursday. The song is the fifth single from its album Renegades, which was released Nov. 13 through Golden Robot Records. Its debut follows that of the album’s current singles, ‘Crawl,’ ‘Well Oiled Machine,’ ‘All That You Are‘ and the album’s title track.

‘You Can’t Walk Away’ is an interesting addition to Renegades because it really defies everything that audiences have come to expect from L.A. Guns throughout its life.  Yes, there is a little bit of a ballad type of approach here.  At the same time though, the production, the choruses, and the instrumentation really throws back to the 1960s and some very distinct influence of The Beatles.  It really is the album’s most surprising and engaging work because of that approach.  That musical aspect, with all of is production and emotion works with the song’s familiar lyrical content about a relationship, to make the song even more appealing.

The noted lyrical theme is mad clear right from the song’s outset as front man Kurt Frohlich sings, “Nothing’s right/Gonna be a long way home tonight/A lover’s fight/I’ve been away too long/Another day rolls by/And it feels like an old friend/But nobody wants to do it/No one seems to care/And nobody wants to listen anyway/You can’t walk away/Something inside is telling you/Why is it so hard to do/You can’t walk away/When it all falls apart/Leave with your heart.”  The theme is made even clearer in the second verse, in which Frohlich sings, “Nobody pays your precious way/Thought it was an easy thing to do/But when you turned around something told you/Go back to where they know you/You can walk away/Something inside is telling you/Why is it so hard to do/You can walk away/Still it all falls apart/Leave with your heart.”  Keeping all of this in mind, the song’s lyrical theme remains relatively clear.  This deals with the emotional difficulties that come with a breakup.  The addition of the song’s subdued musical arrangement adds even more to the song’s overall impact.  The two elements jointly make this song one of this album’s most notable and important works.

Drummer Steve Riley talked about the song during a recent interview.

“This is a song I wrote with a friend, Tommy Holland, over 35 years ago in Chicago,” said Riley. “I brought it to pre-production for the Renegades album and the band finished it with a new chorus and some other minor changes. We are very proud of it and hope it follows in the footsteps of Ballad of Jayne.”

More information on L.A. Guns’ new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.laguns.net

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/officiallaguns

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘Royal Tea’ Is Royalty Among Joe Bonamassa’s Extensive Catalog

Courtesy: JR-Adventures

Joe Bonamassa has made a career of playing the blues, covering the classics and handling his own originals.  From one album to the next, he has shown why he is one of the leading names in the blues community.  Now with the release of his latest album Royal Tea on Oct. 23, Bonamassa has completely cemented his place not only in the upper echelon of the blues community, but the music community in whole.  That is because Bonamassa has branched out so much in this record, opting to offer so much more than his standard blues compositions.  This is well worth discussing in itself.  The record’s production adds its own touch to the presentation and will also be addressed here.  The sequencing puts the final touch to this album’s presentation.  When it is considered along with the noted production and musical arrangements, the whole make Royal Tea a work that proves Joe Bonamassa is music royalty.

Joe Bonamassa’s latest album Royal Tea is without question, one of his greatest albums to date if not his greatest work yet.  It is a presentation that shows so much growth from the famed blues rock guitarist/singer.  That is proven throughout the course of the 10-song record’s 53-minute run time.  Rather than just sticking with the standard blues style works for which he has come to be known, Bonamassa opted this time to branch out.  That is evidenced right off the top in the album’s opener, ‘When One Door Opens.’  This nearly eight-minute epic composition opens with a broad, symphonic arrangement, complete with strings, crash cymbals, and horns.  That bombastic opening gradually gives way to a very contemplative, introspective stylistic approach whose chromatic scales and vocal harmonies are more rock ballad-esque than blues.  As the song progresses into its “third movement” (the very fact that the song is so in-depth displaying so many styles is itself impressive.  That me blends them together so well is even more worthy of applause) things change over to Bonamassa’s more bluesy style before switching back to the noted contemplative ballad-style approach to close out the song.    There is even a hint of Holst’s ‘Mars: The Bringer of War’ mixed in for good measure.  Whether that was intentional is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, the subtle addition of that element adds so much to the song in its own right.  The whole of this composition shows clearly that it is anything but what audiences have come to expect from Joe Bonamassa.  It is just one of the works that exhibits his growth in this album.  Just as interesting to note as this song is the clear influence of certain other equally well-known acts in other songs.

Listening to the album’s title song, the Beatles influence is undeniable, especially as the song opens.  From there, there is a touch of Jimi Hendrix influence.  Considering that Bonamassa recorded this album at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, none of this should come as a surprise.  Hendrix rose first to fame in England before the United States.  And of course, The Beatles are synonymous with Abbey Road Studios.  ‘High Class Girl’ meanwhile immediately lends itself to comparisons to Booker T and the MGs’ famous hit ‘Green Onions’ what with the combination of its guitar, bass, drums and keyboards.  The side-by-side is a near mirror image, yet even with that in mind, Bonamassa still manages to make this song about a man who is crazy for a woman who is out of his league into its own composition.  On yet another note, ‘Lonely Boy’ echoes influences of Brian Setzer and Stray Cats with its rockabilly style arrangement.  That Bonamassa was able to take influences from his equally well-known contemporaries and still create his own unique compositions is just one more way in which this record’s musical content proves so important to its whole.  He also branches out into some other realms, and in the process makes his own unique compositions.

Case in point of the noted statement about Bonamassa branching out even more is ‘Savannah,’ which closes out the album.  This song is a distinctly country/bluegrass work that will appeal widely to fans of acts, such as Steep Canyon Rangers and Zac Brown Band.  The subtle use of the keyboards against the vocal harmonies, drums, mandolin and guitar makes the song such an enjoyable work.  By contrast, ‘Lookout Man!’ is a bass heavy modern rock style composition whose heavy guitars, bass, and rums will appeal to fans of acts, such as Audioslave and Small Town Titans.  The addition of Bonamassa’s gritty vocal delivery and the harmonica to the mix adds even appeal more to the arrangement.  ‘A Conversation With Alice,’ the album’s lead single, throws lends itself to similarities to works from the likes of maybe Foreigner if not other veteran rock acts.  Simply put, these songs in themselves show even more the breadth of Joe Bonamassa’s talents and abilities.  They show, along with the other noted arrangements, that he is not just a one trick pony whose bread and butter is just the blues.  It shows that he can play any style of music any time.  Hopefully with that in mind, audiences will hear him take that into account even more when he releases his next album.  Now taking all of this into account, the wide range of styles of music exhibited throughout Royal Tea make up collectively just one part of what makes the album so enjoyable.  The album’s production adds another positive touch to its presentation.

The production that went into Royal Tea’s presentation is so pivotal because, again, Joe Bonamassa branched out so much throughout this album.  ‘Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye’ is a good example of the impact of the production.  This slow, bluesy work, is clearly a work about a broken relationship.  The song’s arrangement adds so much to its impact.  Listeners will note the subtlety in the guitar and bass balance and the way the drums cut through here when they listen closely.  The way each element is balanced in the song’s verses versus the more bombastic choruses serves well to translate the emotion in each moment as the song’s subject is going through so many thoughts.

‘When One Door Opens’ is another example of what makes the album’s production so important.  That is due in part to the symphonic element in the song’s opening bars.  This is something that Bonamassa has done rarely if ever.  That means that a subtle backing element, such as a cymbal crash had to be really controlled.  Even in the song’s more subtle moments, the vocals and drums had to be balanced with the equally subtle string arrangement and bells (yes, bells) to make sure the fullest impact was achieved, which it was.

‘Beyond The Silence’ is one more example of what makes this album’s production so important.  The song, whose arrangement is a very western style work, conjures thoughts of Bon Jovi’s hit song ‘Blaze of Glory’ and Blues Saraceno’s ‘Evil Ways.’  The song stars and ends in very brooding fashion, with thunder setting the stage.  The subtle way in which that thunder rumbles “in the distance” is powerful in its subtlety.  The equally subtle use of the organ, drums, piano, guitar, bass and vocals makes for such high levels of engagement.  As the song enters its chorus, the more energetic approach makes for a stark contrast to the more subdued verses.  That contrast adds even more impact to the song.  The work that clearly went in to balance the two moods paid off, maximizing the impact.  When this is considered along with the examined production in the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the production clearly plays an important part to the album’s presentation.  It is still not the last of the record’s most important elements.  The sequencing rounds out the album’s most important elements.

The sequencing of Royal Tea is important to examine because it ensures the energies in the album are balanced.  Audiences will be glad to know that the record’s sequencing is just as successful as its production and songs in general.  The record starts so strongly in the multi-movement ‘When One Door Opens.’  The energy stays high even as the stylistic approach changes in the album’s title track.  From there, things pull back noticeably in ‘Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye’ before picking right back up in ‘Lookout Man!’ and carrying through to ‘Beyond The Silence.’  That song in question has already been addressed.  ‘Lonely Boy’ considerably changes things again, picking up the fun and energy once more before the album sets listeners gently on another shore in ‘Savannah.’  This simple, laid back country/bluegrass track is, again, so unlike anything that Bonamassa has ever composed.  It is a wonderful finale for the album, especially considering the musical journey on which audiences embark in listening to the album.  Simply put, the album’s energy rises and falls at all of the right points throughout the course of this album.  This is a tribute to the time and thought that went into the album’s sequencing.  It assures listeners will remain just as engaged and entertained for this aspect as for the rest of the album’s aspects.  Keeping all of that in mind, Royal Tea proves itself to be a solid new offering from Joe Bonamassa and potentially his best work to date.

Joe Bonamassa’s new album Royal Tea is an impressive new offering from the veteran blues-rock guitarist/singer.  It is a record that is largely unlike anything that he has ever presented.  That is presented in part through its musical arrangements, which toss aside the standard blues songs for which he has come to be known in favor of a more diverse selection of styles.  The production of those works and their sequencing puts the final touch to the record, collectively speaking.  They ensure listeners will remain engaged and entertained through the presentation of the arrangements and the balance in their energies.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Royal Tea royalty among Joe Bonamassa’s catalog. Royal Tea is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Joe Bonamassa’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.jbonamassa.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/JBONAMASSA

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Gunship Debuts Cover Of The Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’

Courtesy: Reybee, Inc.

Independent electronic music act Gunship is taking on a Beatles classic for its latest single.

The band premiered its cover of The Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby‘ Wednesday. The band’s take on the song crosses its trademark electronic/80s synth-driven sounds with The Beatles’ original arrangement for a unique new take on the song that will engage and entertain a wide range of listeners.

Gunship bassist/co-founder Dan Haigh talked in a recent interview, about the band’s decision to cover the timeless song, noting its relevance to the current state of the world.

“The song ‘Eleanor Rigby’ really is a sad and extremely poignant song, dealing with issues of disillusionment, loneliness, and isolation in society,” said Haigh. “‘Look at all the lonely people‘ is a lyric that has stuck with us forever. We wondered about a modern day Eleanor Rigby, and what it would be like if a character like her was alive today and experiencing 2020.”

“We felt some of the song’s themes dovetailed closely with the contemporary negative revelations surrounding the mass adoption of social media, phone addiction and the proliferation of the ‘pseudo-connections’ these platforms provide,” added Haigh. “The artwork for our cover version shows a young ‘Eleanor Rigby’, illuminated by her device, dependent on it, manipulated by it, and totally in the clutches of addiction to it. Given the current situation we felt the song would make a suitable cover for Halloween.”

More information on Gunship’s cover of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.gunshipmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/gunshipmusic

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Ace Frehley’s New Record Is The Exception To The Rule About Covers Compilations

Courtesy: eOne

Covers collections are a dime a dozen.  From one genre within the bigger musical universe to the next, they are overly abundant offerings.  There is no denying that in the bigger picture of things, covers collections are little more than space fillers used by acts for the purpose of fulfilling contractual obligations between new albums.  Many of those albums are that and little more.  However, every now and then at least one rarity rises above the rest to do at least a little more, and actually show some value.  Ace Frehley’s latest covers compilation is one of those rarities.  Released Friday through eOne, the 12-song record stands out in part because of its featured covers.  This will be discussed shortly.  The performances of the songs play their own part in the album’s presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The production that went into the record rounds out its most important elements and will be addressed later, too.  Each noted item is important in its own right to the whole of the collection.  All things considered, they make Frehley’s latest space filler a work that will appeal to plenty of classic rock fans.

Ace Frehley’s latest covers compilation, released Friday through eOne, is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new space fillers.  That is because unlike its counterparts, it actually proves itself to actually be worth at least some value.  That is due in part to the record’s featured songs.  While there are some notable works featured in the record from some very well-known bands, there are also some lesser-known deep cuts from those bands, too.  Mountain’s ‘Never in my Life’ is an example of one of those deep cuts.  The band is well-known, and while Climbing!, the album in which the song is featured, is considered a hit for Mountain, the song itself was never considered to be one of the album’s biggest hits.  ‘I’m Down,’ which was a b-side to The Beatles’ hit song ‘Help!,’ is another example of Frehley including a lesser-known work from a big name band in this record.  Cream’s ‘Politician’ is yet another example of the noted lesser-known songs featuring in this record.  While the album in which the song is featured – Wheels of Fire – is the world’s first platinum-selling double album, the song was never used as a single.  To that end, it is more of a deep cut.

On the other end of the spectrum, works, such as The Rolling Stones’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s ‘Manic Depression’ and Deep Purple’s ‘Space Truckin’’ (whose lyrics Frehley changes slightly here when he sings, “we’re space ace truckin’) are examples of the more well-known works featured in the album.  Between these songs and the lesser-known pieces is in reality a little bit of a rock music history lesson.  Audiences get to learn about some big name bands (I.E. The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin) and those who were more mid-level (Mountain, Paul Revere & The Raiders) while also getting a starting point on discussions on the acts and their catalogs.  What’s more, being that those lesser-known works are rarely if ever played on corporate terrestrial radio and are just as rarely presented in other acts’ covers compilations, their inclusion adds to their importance.  Keeping all of this in mind, the compilation’s featured songs actually prove at least some value to its presentation.

While the songs featured in Frehley’s new covers set present at least some value, the performances of said songs plays just as much importance if not more.  That is because while Frehley and his fellow musicians do stay at least somewhat true to their source material throughout the record, they  also give the songs a new updated sound.  Case in point is the group’s performance of The Rolling Stones’ hit song ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.’  The Rolling Stones’ original composition is energetic in its own right, and the band’s live performances of the song step things up in the song even more.  Frehley and company’s version here however really amps things up.  Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards’ guitars are replaced in this case by that of Frehley and guitar goddess Lita Ford.  The duo also takes on Mick Jagger’s vocals jointly and definitely take things collectively in a whole new direction.  It should be noted that Ford does drop some f-bombs here, so some listener discretion is advised.  Honestly, its disappointing that Ford would work blue here since the original song did not need any foul language in order to be enjoyable.  Charlie Watts’ steady, subtle time keeping has even been replaced by an equally heavy drum line here.  Simply put, the performance in whole does stay true to the source material in terms of sound, but in terms of style it is a completely different song.  So that is certain to generate its own share of interest and discussion among listeners.

The group’s take on The Animals’ ‘We Gotta Get Outta Here’ is another example of the importance of the performances of the featured songs here.  The Animals’ original rendition of the song was grounded in its bass line and vocals.  In the case of Frehley and company’s take on the song, Frehley takes on the bass line, using the guitar instead for that famous line.  Between that, the semi-operatic vocal delivery and the bombastic drumming, the whole of the song takes on a distinctly 80s hair metal vibe that echoe the sounds of KISS (no surprise there) instead of presenting the song in its more subdued original presentation.  At the same time, considering that the song’s lyrical content focuses on a relationship matter and “needing to get out of this place,” the song’s energy in this presentation does seem to work in its own right.  To that end, it is sure to generate its own share of interest and engagement.

On another hand, the performance of The Beatles’ I’m Down’ stays almost true stylistically to its source material.  Yes, it’s amped up compared to the original, but compared to let’s say The Beatles’ performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, this performance actually echoes that performance relatively well, even despite being so amped up.  As a matter of fact, this performance is actually a step up from the Beatles’ original song.  That is not to say that The Beatles’ original is bad by any means.  That should not be misconstrued.  Rather, Frehley and company took a song that was great to begin with and stepped it up, improving upon it even more.  Between this performance, the others noted here and the rest of the collection’s performances, it can be said that the performances pose their own importance to the record’s presentation just as much as the songs themselves.  The performances are just one more part of what makes the collection worth hearing, too.  Its production rounds out its most important elements.

The production of Origins Volume 2 is important to note for the very reason that has already been raised in examining the performance of the record’s featured songs:  the performances take the original songs from decades ago and really amp them up.  This is important because in so many of the songs, there is a lot more going on than in these works than the originals.  In other words, there is more need to balance all of the elements to ensure each song presents the fullest performance.  Those behind the record’s production are to be applauded for their efforts, too.  For all that is going on in each song, the guitars, bass, vocals, and drums are quite well balanced.  The energy is transmitted just as well because of that expert work that went into balancing each element within each song.  The end result is an album that works just as well for its aesthetics as for its content.  When this is considered along with the record’s content and the performances therein, the result is a covers collection that while it is a covers set, actually proves itself worth hearing at least once if not more.

Ace Frehley’s new covers compilation Origins Volume 2 is an interesting follow-up to his 2016 set Origins Volume 1.  That is due in part to its featured songs.  The songs are a balance of well-known works and deep cuts.  They and the bands that performed them can actually serve as a starting point on discussions about rock’s modern history.  That is actually a positive in its own right.  The performances of the featured songs is important to this record because they stay true to their source material in terms of sound, but stylistically, they clearly show Frehley’s own influence, what with the overly bombastic nature of each performance.  That is certain to generate its own share of discussion among audiences.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  That is because it ensures for all of the elements going on in each song, those elements are well-balanced, making the record just as worth hearing for this aesthetic element as for its content.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the compilation a presentation that is the exception to the rule for covers compilations.  It is available now.  More information on the set is available along with all of Ace Frehley’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.acefrehley.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/officialacefrehley

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Ace_Frehley

 

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Rolie Polie Guacamole Announces Release Date For New LP, ‘Avocado’

RPG Records

Family entertainment act Rolie Polie Guacamole will release its new album next month.

The duo — Frank Gallo and Andrew Tuzhilin — is scheduled to release its new album Avocado June 19 through RPG Records.  The album is the duo’s seventh full-length family music album.

Avocado boasts a wide range of influences throughout its 13-song body beginning with a Beatles-esque work in the album’s title track/opener.  ‘Ay Batta Batta,’ which immediately follows, is a prog-rock style song while ‘Basketball Jane,’ the album’s third song gives audiences an old-school hip-hop vibe.

‘Fire Truck,’ the record’s fourth entry, is an upbeat rock arrangement.  The variety continues on from there, offering audiences plenty of reason to applaud the album.

Avocado was produced by Dean Jones.  He was assisted by fellow famed producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, PJ Harvey).

More information on Avocado is available along with all of Rolie Polie Guacamole’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://roliepolieguacamole.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RoliePolieGuac

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s New Lennon, ‘Imagine’ Retrospective Will Appeal To Lennon, Beatles Fans Alike

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

John Lennon’s Imagine is one of the most important albums in music history.  Whether one is a fan of Lennon, The Beatles or just an audiophile in general, the stylistic change in this record from his work with Lennon’s former Beatles band mates showed a dramatic change of pace for the late, great musician. Now thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, the most devout Beatles and Lennon fans finally get to see for themselves how Imagine was created while also taking in the album complete with visualizations in the form of the recently released presentation, Imagine & Gimme Some Truth.  The two-part presentation offers plenty for the noted audiences to appreciate, beginning with that noted dual presentation.  This will be discussed shortly.  The companion booklet that comes with the presentation is just as important to discuss in examining the Blu-ray’s presentation as the primary content.  It will be discussed a little later.  The bonus content included in the Blu-ray rounds out its most important elements, and will also be discussed later.  All things considered, Imagine & Gimme Some Truth proves to be a presentation that the most devoted fans of John Lennon and The Beatles will find appealing.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s recently released John Lennon doc Imagine & Gimme Some Truth is a presentation that the most devoted fans of Lennon and The Beatles will find appealing.  As noted already, that is due in part to the primary content presented in the program.  Eagle Rock Entertainment has presented here a vintage presentation that follows the creation of his landmark album Imagine as well as a full presentation of the album complete with home videos of Lennon and his widow Yoko Ono.  The doc presents the original in-studio footage of Lennon and his then band mates at work figuring out how to make each song the best that it can be as part of the presentation.  What makes this interesting is that audiences get to see Lennon not just as a performer, but as an artist and a real person.  It’s not always the smiling John Lennon that so many people might remember.  Audiences see that happy guy, but also someone who was human and got frustrated at times, too.  Some might ask why is this important, especially considering that John Lennon is no longer with us.  What is important is that it serves as another reminder that celebrities are not super humans.  They are ordinary people, just like everyone else.  What’s more, audiences get to hear some raw mixes of the songs that would end up on the record while also getting that fly on the wall vantage point of the creative process.  Getting to hear a raw, demo session of ‘Imagine’ itself presents a completely different vocal approach from Lennon than what is heard on record, for example, as well as a slightly different arrangement.  Audiences also get to take in the in-studio recording of ‘Gimme Some Truth,’ which stylistically harkens back to the likes of ‘Helter Skelter.’  Again, here is another important point for the documentary portion of the presentation.  Between all of this and so much more, the documentary proves to be a work that will please, again, the most devoted fans of John Lennon and The Beatles.

The full musical presentation of ‘Imagine’ is a bonus for those fans as it is the original presentation recorded by Yoko Ono and John Lennon together.  The companion booklet that comes with this presentation explains the history behind the film, which is interesting, even for those who might not be as devout as others in their fandom.  As is noted in the booklet, making the film was alien territory for Lennon, but apparently not so much for Ono, which led to some of its more intriguing moments.  Audiences get in the film, home video footage of Lennon and Ono, as well as more artsy type of footage, such as Lennon and Ono sitting at an art display with human-like figures at a table, and the couple walking around in a forest apparently looking for one another just to note a couple of instances.  The home video footage includes footage of the couple at their home together, and with a number of celebs, such as Miles Davis, Andy Warhol and Jack Palance.  Again, the most devout fans of The Beatles and John Lennon will find it all appealing.  Those who might be more casual listeners will at least appreciate getting to hear Imagine in its whole after going through the making of documentary that itself is vintage footage.  That vintage footage in both presentations adds even more appeal for fans as it wasn’t tweaked for the presentation here.  It is exactly the same footage presented in its original presentation.  To that end, the two-part presentation that forms the foundation of Imagine & Gimme Some Truth makes that foundation strong to say the least.  The companion booklet that came with that primary content strengthens that foundation even more.

As noted already, the companion booklet that joins the Blu-ray’s primary content is so important because of what it adds to the Blu-ray’s presentation.  It presents the words of Lennon and Ono themselves instead of the typical liner notes written by a journalist, biographer or other personality.  The notes, obviously written around the same time as the Imagine film, clearly show the time and thought put into the film’s creation so many years ago.  Ono discusses Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton movies in her notes as inspiration for the film’s stylistic approach at one point.  At another point, Lennon talks about the cameras following him and his fellow musicians around the studio as the album was being made.  He also writes jokingly about the man in the bag who walked around London in one point of Imagine.  At yet another point, Lennon talks about Ono’s apparent talent with film making, how that led to the film’s outcome and his feeling on the outcome.  It’s just one more commentary that, again, truly devout fans of Lennon and the Beatles will appreciate.  Between all of this and the rest of the commentary featured throughout the booklet, the whole of that content builds on the foundation formed by the program’s two-part primary content to give the noted audiences even more reason to view this presentation.  Even as much as this content offers audiences, it is not all that audiences have to appreciate here.  The bonus material included in the program rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus material features bonus outtakes of performances from Gimme Some Truth not included in the final presentation of that studio presentation.  Audiences get as bonuses, outtakes of the sessions for ‘Jealous Guy,’ ‘How?’ and ‘Gimme Some Truth.’  Again, the bonus features show Lennon and company hard at work in a setting that audiences might not be so commonly seen in other Lennon and Beatles presentations.  As an additional bonus, audiences also get to see a photoshoot of Lennon in studio that is used to create pictures to promote Imagine.  Again, it’s one more display of the creative process for the record.  It’s one more item for Beatles and John Lennon fans to appreciate.  When it is considered along with the bonus studio outtakes, the breadth of information shared by Ono and Lennon themselves in the presentation’s companion booklet and the primary two-part program that forms the program’s foundation, the whole proves to be a work that the most devout Lennon and The Beatles fans will find appealing.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s recently released profile of John Lennon’s landmark album Imagine is a work that the most devout fans of The Beatles and John Lennon will find appealing.  That is due in part to the two-part primary content that forms the presentation’s foundation.  The rich background that is provided through the Blu-ray’s companion booklet strengthens that foundation even more.  The bonus studio outtakes put the finishing touch to the Blu-ray’s presentation.  Each element is important in its own right to the whole of this Blu-ray.  All things considered, they make this a work that, once again, the most devout fans of The Beatles and John Lennon will appreciate.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

 

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

 

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Raffi’s New Hits Collection Is A Solid Start For Fans New To His Work

Courtesy: Rounder Records

Courtesy: Rounder Records

Veteran children’s entertainer Raffi has a new compilation record on the way.  Rounder Records will release Best of Raffi next Friday, Feb. 10 in stores and online.  This 16-song collection is hardly the first from the Canadian singer-songwriter, but it is still enjoyable in its own right.  That is due in part to the songs that make up the record’s body.  That will be discussed shortly.  The musical styles that are presented throughout the songs are just as important to note as the songs themselves.  That will be discussed later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in itself to the overall presentation of this latest compilation from Raffi.  All things considered, this new collection of songs may not be a new record in the purest sense of the term, but it is still an enjoyable collection nonetheless.

Raffi’s new hits collection Best of Raffi is hardly the veteran children’s entertainers first-ever compilation record.  Even with that in mind it is still an enjoyable collection of songs from his extensive catalogue.  Speaking of that extensive catalogue, the 16 songs that make up the body of this collection serve as its cornerstone.  The collection takes audiences all the way back to Raffi’s 1976 record Singable Songs For The Very Young with ‘Mr. Sun’ and ‘Down By The Bay’ and even all the way up to his most recent album, 2016’s Owl Singalong.  Obviously considering just how extensive Raffi’s catalogue is, there was no way that every one of his records could be represented in this collection.  However, he (and the people at Rounder Records) are to be commended for the effort made to represent as much of that catalogue here as possible.  Counting Owl Singalong, no fewer than nine of Raffi’s albums are represented in this record, with at least one song pulled from each record.  Others get two nods.  1980’s Baby Beluga gets three nods with ‘Thanks A Lot,’ Raffi’s cover of Harry Belafonte’s beloved ‘Day O’ and the album’s famed title track.  What is interesting to note of Raffi’s cover of ‘Day O’ is that lyrically speaking, the song has been changed around some.  The mention of the giant tarantula has been entirely removed as has the mention of the worker drinking rum.  Yes, both are in the original song, which in reality was not a children’s song.  Getting back on topic, though not every one of Raffi’s albums is represented here, the albums that are collectively speaking, a healthy representation of his body of work.  Keeping that in mind, they make this compilation a good introduction to Raffi for anyone not overly familiar with him or his body of work.  This is just one way in which this recording proves itself worth being added to any family’s music library.  It is just one of the record’s most important elements.  The musical styles that are presented within the featured songs are just as important to discuss as the songs themselves.

The songs that make up the body of Best of Raffi are important in their own right to the record’s presentation.  That is due to the fact that they represent so much of Raffi’s body of work.  While this is clearly important to the record’s presentation, it is just one of the record’s key elements.  The varied musical styles presented throughout the record are just as important to note here as the featured songs.  ‘Down By The Bay’ boasts a folk style arrangement that Pete Seeger fans will enjoy just as much as Raffi’s fans.  The arrangement at the center of ‘Baby Beluga’ is reminiscent (and here’s a wild connection) of The Beatles’ ‘When I’m Sixty-Four.’  Raffi’s gentle vocal delivery set against the horns and strings in ‘One Light, One Sun’ instantly conjures thoughts of some of the greatest ballads ever performed by Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick, Jr.  These are just a few examples of the various musical styles presented throughout this collection.  The easy-listening arrangement at the center of ‘Rise and Shine’ shows even more variance in Raffi’s stylistic approach over the years, as does the light, jazzy arrangement at the center of ‘Bananaphone.’  The arrangement, driven largely by its piano and drum lines, will put a smile on any listener’s face with its fun feel.  It’s just one more way in which Raffi and Rounder Records display the extent of Raffi’s musical talents in this record.  It goes without saying that the record’s other songs show just as much variety.  All things considered, the arrangements presented in each of this record’s songs show clearly why they are so vital to the record’s presentation.  That variance adds even more to the record’s depth.  On a similar vein, the record’s sequencing proves to be just as important to its presentation.

The songs that are presented in Raffi’s new hits collection and their musical styles are both critical in their own way to the record’s overall presentation.  The songs are a healthy representation of his work up to this point.  The arrangements show an equally wide array of influences, thus showing the reach of his talents.  While both elements are undeniably important to the record, they are not the record’s only important elements.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  Listeners will note in going through the record’s 16-song body that Raffi and the people behind the record’s production put a lot of thought into its sequencing.  From start to finish, the energy stays just enough at each point.  That is thanks to the thought put into each song’s placement in regards both to its energy and its style.  At no point does the record ever get too slow or too fast.  What’s more, at no point do the songs’ styles ever echo one another immediately.  They vary just as much as the energy exuded within each arrangement.  Keeping that in mind, the sequencing proves to be just as important to keeping listeners engaged as the songs and their arrangements.  All things considered, Best of Raffi proves, while hardly his first hits compilation, to still be a good introduction to Raffi and his music.

Rounder Records’ new Raffi compilation record Best of Raffii is a good introduction to the veteran children’s entertainer and his music.  That is proven in part through the songs featured on the record.  The songs represent a solid cross-section of Raffi’s body of work.  The arrangements presented in the songs are just as diverse as the songs themselves.  They present a wide range of talents and influences from Raffi.  Both elements were clearly taken into account with the record’s sequencing, the last of the record’s most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the record’s overall presentation.  All things considered, this record proves to be an enjoyable collection nonetheless, and an equally welcome introduction to Raffi and his music.  It will be available next Friday, Feb. 10 in stores and online.  More information on Best of Raffi is available online now along with all of Raffi’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.raffinews.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Raffi.Cavoukian

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Raffi_RC

 

 

 

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.