Live At Shea Stadium Another Candidate For This Year’s List Of Best New Live DVDs and Blu-rays

The Who Live at Shea Stadium 1982 Box Art

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

In 2014, the legendary rock band The Who marked a major milestone as it reached its fiftieth anniversary. In honor of the anniversary, the veteran British band has been making its way around the world, sharing its decades of music with generations of fans. While it is currently in the midst of that tour, not every city has been or will be lucky enough to see the band as it shares its timeless tunes with the masses. Thankfully for the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment, the leader in live recordings, audiences have been treated with one of The Who’s most classic concerts in the form of Live at Shea Stadium 1982. Live at Shea Stadium 1982 is a pivotal point in The Who’s career as it would be the last time that the band would be joined by Kenney Jones on drums. It would also mark the last time that the band would perform live until 1989. That is a span of some seven years. In the music world, seven years is an eternity. Until now, this concert had never been released in its entirety on one platform. Being the first time ever that the concert–the second of The Who’s shows from its 2-night stand at Shea Stadium in October, 1982–it is a wonderful debut. It proves itself so impressive primarily through its set list. The main set list featured in this concert runs twenty-five songs and just over two hours. The songs included in that list solidly represent the band’s career up to that point. The quartet’s performance of said songs is just as enjoyable as the songs themselves. Considering that it would be the last time that the band would perform live for a span of seven years, the band definitely went out on a high note albeit temporarily. Last but not least to note is the concert’s collective production values. Being that the concert contained in Live at Shea Stadium was originally recorded nearly thirty-three years ago, the footage has stood the test of time quite well. Even more impressive is the work of those that resurrected its footage and re-mastered it for its presentation here. Thanks to the work of those individuals, the concert maintains the look that it boasted in its original recording yet boasts a sound that is just as clear as any show recorded today. The combination of all three noted elements shows clearly why Live at Shea Stadium 1982 is a great replacement for those that won’t get to see The Who on its current tour. It shows just as clearly why this recording is one more of the year’s best new live DVD and Blu-ray recordings.

Live at Shea Stadium 1982 is a defining moment for The Who. It marked the last time that audiences would get to see the band live for another seven years after its completion. It would also be the last time that the band’s then drummer Kenney Jones would perform with the band. And until now, it has never been released in its entirety on one platform. Considering this and the fact that the band’s current tour may be the last for the band, it becomes an even more important recording for fans of The Who to own. It shows itself to be such a lasting concert for audiences first and foremost through its extensive set list. The set list presented here runs twenty-five songs deep and just over two hours long. That is not even counting the five performances included as bonuses. Added to the main set list, they push the overall run time of the recording to a little more than two hours and twenty-five minutes. That’s a lot of music to say the least. And that’s a lot of live for fans that won’t get to see the band on its current tour. On a related note, the songs that make up the show’s set list represent a relatively healthy cross-section of the band’s section up to that point. It reaches all the way back to the band’s third studio release, 1967’s The Who Sell Out and even includes hits such as ‘Pinball Wizard,’ from the band’s hugely popular 1969 album Tommy, ‘Baba O’Reily’ and ‘Behind Blue Eyes,’ both from 1971’s Who’s Next as well as ‘I’m One,’ ‘The Punk and the Godfather,’ ‘5:15,’ and ‘Drowned’ all from another of the band’s biggest releases of all time, 1973’s Quadrophenia among so many other major hits. For all of the importance of the noted hits, their sequencing is just as important to the enjoyment of the show. The first five songs offer up a solid, driving energy that is soon followed up by a slightly more reserved vibe in ‘It’s Hard.’ That is followed up by the ‘Sledgehammer’-esque vibe of ‘Eminence Front’ before the band really pulls back on ‘Behind Blue Eyes,’ another of its biggest hits. That is just the first six of the show’s twenty-five song set. The remainder of the show’s songs exhibit just as much balance right up to the show’s finale. That balance of energy and drive from one song to the next coupled with the show’s overall set list shows clearly why as with any live show, the set list in whole is central to its enjoyment and overall success.

Live at Shea Stadium 1982’s set list and its overall arrangement give audiences plenty to like about the recording. The balance of energy and drive from one song to the mix coupled with an equally solid mix of the band’s hits up to that point will keep audiences’ attention from beginning to end. Much the same can be said of the band’s stage performance throughout the course of the two-hour plus concert. Front man Roger Daltry shows time and again why he is one of the greatest front men in rock’s modern history with his balance of charisma and energy from one song to the next and even in-between as audiences will see for themselves. When the crowd gets too close to the stage, Daltry very calmly and politely asks the audience to back up and make room. Even having to do this more than once he never loses his cool. As minor as it seems, it goes a long way toward showing the type of person that he is. It is truly impressive to see such demeanor. That demeanor coupled with his minimal yet still energetic performance is a clear example of why the band’s performance in this show is so impotrant to its enjoyment and success. Daltry’s band mates John Entwhistle, Pete Townshend, and Kelley Jones each provide their own entertainment throughout the show. Guitarist Pete Townshend’s classic airplane playing is there. Jones’ drumming generates its own energy throughout each song. Even Entwhistle’s own unassuming demeanor as he provides the songs’ low end is entertaining in its own right. Whether in the concert’s biggest moments or its more reserved moments, none of the band members really seem to exert that much energy, rather letting the music exert most of the energy for them. That energy translates perfectly to the audience and will translate just as well to home viewers. In turn, it will lead audiences to appreciate the band members’ talents both as musicians and song writers. That appreciation reveals in one more way why Live at Shea Stadium 1982 is such an enjoyable and successful new recording from one of rock’s greatest acts.

The set list that makes up the body of Live at Shea Stadium 1982 and the band’s performance of said songs do plenty to show why this concert is so enjoyable. They are only two parts of the presentation that makes it whole. The concert’s collective production values round out the ways in which it proves itself so enjoyable. Considering the fact that the concert was originally recorded some thirty-two years ago, it can be said that the footage has stood the test of time rather well. Of course the work of those charged with re-mastering the concert’s audio and video is just as much to credit for how well it looks and sounds. It maintains the look that it boasted in its original standard def recording. Even with that look it is clear that it has been cleaned up and brought back to life. Through it all the fact that it still maintains that look is deserving of praise. It shows the high quality results of the painstaking efforts of those individuals charged with handling the footage. The same can be said in regards to the concert’s audio mix. It is obvious that just as much work was put into remastering the concert’s audio. That is because it sounds clearer than most concerts recorded so long ago. Thanks to the work done on both ends, the band’s performance and the show’s set list both become that much more enjoyable. In conjunction with the work of those that resurrected and re-worked the footage, all three elements show together just why Live at Shea Stadium 1982 is another entirely enjoyable and successful from one of rock’s biggest bands and why it is also one of this year’s best new live DVD and Blu-ray recordings.

Live at Shea Stadium 1982 shows in plenty of ways to be another entirely enjoyable and successful recordings from a group that is one of rock’s biggest and most respected acts. It shows just as much why it is one of the year’s best new live DVDs and Blu-rays. It is available now in a variety of formats both in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

More information on The Who’s current tour is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.thewho.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheWho

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.

Eagle Rock Entertainment Celebrating The Who’s 50th Anniversary With New Archived Concert Recording

The Who Live at Shea Stadium 1982 Box Art

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

 

Legendary British rock band The Who is currently making its way across America on the North American leg of its new “The Who Hits 50! Worldwide Tour.” The tour is in support of its latest hits collection, which goes by the same name. That compilation was released late last year. Now as The Who makes its way across America (and later Europe and other nations), Eagle Rock has announced that it will release a new, archived live recording from The Who this summer for all of the band’s fans.

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release The Who Live at Shea Stadium 1982 on Tuesday, June 30th. The concert will be available on DVD, SD Blu-ray and digital formats. It was originally recorded on October 13th, 1982 at Shea Stadium. It was the second of the band’s concerts recorded during its two-night stand at Shea Stadium and featured the lineup of Roger Daltry, Pete Townshend, John Entwhistle, and Kenney Jones. The tour from which this concert was pulled–its 1982 North American Tour–was the last on which Jones would sit behind the kit for the band. Once the tour ended, The Who would not tour again until 1989. The show’s set list includes some of its biggest hits at the time including: ‘Pinball Wizard,’ ‘We Won’t Get Fooled Again,’ ‘My Generation,’ ‘Substitute,’ ‘Who Are You,’ ‘I Can’t Explain,’ ‘See Me Feel Me,’ ‘Baba O’Riley,’ and a number of others. The concert’s complete set list is noted below:

TRACK LISTING

1) Substitute

2) I Can’t Explain

3) Dangerous

4) Sister Disco

5) The Quiet One

6) It’s Hard

7) Eminence Front

8) Behind Blue Eyes

9) Baba O’Riley

10) I’m One

11) The Punk And The Godfather

12) Drowned

13) Tattoo

14) Cry If You Want

15) Who Are You

16) Pinball Wizard

17) See Me Feel Me

18) Love Reign O’er Me

19) Long Live Rock

20) Won’t Get Fooled Again

21) Young Man Blues

22) Naked Eye

23) I Saw Her Standing There

24) Summertime Blues

25) Twist And Shout

Audiences can get a glimpse of the concert now by clicking on the picture below. It will take fans to YouTube where audiences will get to see the band’s performance of ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ from the concert.

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

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

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

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

Randy Bachman’s Latest LP Is A Whole Different And Enjoyable Kind Of Heavy

Courtesy:  Linus Entertainment/Paquin Entertainment Group/Ontario Media Development Corporation

Courtesy: Linus Entertainment/Paquin Entertainment Group/Ontario Media Development Corporation

Veteran musician Randy Bachman has spent the better part of his adult life crafting songs that are known today as some of the rock realm’s greatest compositions. Whether as a member of Bachman Turner Overdrive, The Guess Who, or as a solo musician, Randy Bachman’s music is considered by rockers of all ages to be some of rock’s greatest even to this day. And with his latest solo effort Heavy Blues Bachman continues to justify that reputation even more. Heavy Blues will hit store shelves on Tuesday, April 14th. it is an aptly titled record considering the blues-based rock that makes up most of the album’s eleven total tracks. Perhaps the only exception to that rule is the album’s deeply emotional closer ‘We Need To Talk.’ That song aside, Heavy Blues still stands as a record that every rock purist should add to his or her own music library. From its straight forward, seemingly Steve Miller/The Who-inspired opener ‘The Edge,’ to the gospel and blues-infused ‘Oh My Lord’ to that much deeper, more moving closer, there is plenty for rock purists to appreciate in this album. That includes the pieces not noted here, either. All eleven tracks taken fully into consideration, Heavy Blues proves itself to be a record that is a full breath of fresh air and reminder of all that once made rock great and always will.

Randy Bachman’s latest full length effort Heavy Blues is, as already noted, a breath of fresh air in an age in which rock seems continually dominated by cookie cutter bands dominating mainstream rock radio stations and equally sound-alike acts dominating the heavier side of the rock realm; bands whose songs consist of indecipherable, cookie monster-like growls, machine-gun speed drumming, and crunching, down-tuned guitars. It is a reminder of all that once made rock great and always will regardless of which bands dominate the airwaves and the underground. This is exhibited right off the top in the album’s bombastic opener ‘The Edge.’ The song boasts quite the similarity to works from the likes of both The Who and The Steve Miller Band among others stylistically speaking. Whether or not that was intentional is known only by Bachman himself. Regardless, the combination of those influences in this song serve to make it the perfect choice for Heavy Blues’ opener and a great addition to the album overall. That bombastic style is an equally fitting match for the song’s lyrical side. Lyrically speaking, the song presents a figure that is looking at the world with eyes wide open and a bright spirit. He is someone that is ready to break out and explore the big, wide world with so much gusto. He sings to his mother, “Goodbye mama/I ain’t comin’ home/There’s a big world out there/I’m goin’ it alone/Leave behind the knockers/I just gotta chase the dream/I wanna be somebody and I gotta be free.” He goes on to sing in the song’s closing verse, “I might be wrong/But I’ll take that chance/Falling down and getting up/Is part of the dance/Wanderin’ in circles/Trying to find a place to be/I wanna be somebody and I gotta be free.” Whether male or female, such mindset and energy is something to which even today’s youths can relate. The song’s ability to reach across the generations with such lyrics and musical power makes it a great opener for Heavy Blues and just one of many examples of why every rock purist should have Heavy Blues in their music library.

‘The Edge’ is a great start for Randy Bachman’s new album. It is a song that stretches across generations both with its music and its equally positive and explosive lyrics. It isn’t the only positive boasted by Heavy Blues, either. The hybrid blues/gospel-infused ‘Oh My Lord’ is another great example of what makes this record such a standout opus. Fellow veteran musician Robert Randolph (Robert Randolph and the Family Band) joins Bachman on this song to make for a piece that is one of the highest of the album’s highs. While Randolph provides no vocals for the song, his added talents on the steel pedal add quite a bit of spice to the song. Lyrically, it offers just as much depth for listeners. It notes that for all the bad times in life, a person has to endure and push through, no matter what. As Bachman sings, “Young and restless, outta control/You gotta let the bad times roll/Be careful what you wish for, diamonds or gold/You gotta let the bad times roll/Life is just a gamble, you gotta take control/You gotta face the storm and let the four winds blow/When you roll the dice, it’s all about the throw/You gotta let the bad times roll.” Bachman comes across as saying that people have to take the bad with the good and just face it all rather than try to run and hide from it. Hiding from the bad times only makes things worse. Facing the bad times is tough, but it makes a person stronger for having done it. As with ‘The Edge,’ these are lyrics that cross generations. They are words that are just as relevant to today’s youths as to those that were youths when Bachman was himself younger. Once more, that combination of infectious blues and gospel-infused music coupled with equally substantive lyrics shows why Heavy Blues is such an enjoyable record for rock purists of every age and why it in whole proves to be potentially one of this year’s best new rock records.

Both ‘The Edge’ and Oh My Lord’ serve in their own way as prime examples of why every rock purist should hear Heavy Blues if not have it in his or her own music library. Both songs present wholly different sounds yet sounds that will impress rock fans of all ages. The lyrical content of each song makes each one even more enjoyable and impactful. While both songs provide a certain amount of substance to the album in whole, they certainly are not all that make Heavy Blues so impressive. The album’s closer ‘We Need To Talk’ stands out completely from the rest of the album’s compositions. Yet it shows in its own way one more way that this album shines. Given it probably should not have served as the album’s closer considering the energy exuded by the rest of the album’s songs. But stylistically and lyrically speaking, it is a powerful and moving song in its own right. The song’s musical side presents a figure going through the sadness and uncertainty that comes with an impending breakup. The gentility in Bachman’s voice coupled with the song’s reserved sound set against its 3/4 time signature makes it a song that will tug at listeners’ heart strings like no other. The song’s lyrical side will tug at listeners’ emotions just as powerfully as Bachman sings, “I braced myself for the worst/Whenever you hear those words/Something don’t fit/Something went wrong/Something don’t work and something’s all gone/That’s just the way it is, we need to talk, she said.” Just as with ‘The Edge’ and ‘Oh My Lord,’ the lyrical content presented here is content that transcends generations. Bachman paints a vivid picture of a young woman trying not to hurt a man as she tells him that their relationship has come to its end. There are thousands of songs about breakups that have been crafted by acts across music’s many genres throughout the modern history of music. But few tell the actual story of the breakup. And just as few tell the story of that moment with such clarity and emotion. Because of that, ‘We Need To Talk’ proves itself to be one more of the most important moments of Heavy Blues even as much as it stands out from the rest of the album’s songs. It isn’t heavy in the traditional sense. But its combination of moving lyrics and music make it a heavy song in its own right. And it makes it one more great examples of what makes Heavy Blues such an important addition to any rock purist’s music collection regardless of said listeners’ age. Together with the likes of ‘The Edge’ and ‘Oh My Lord,’ the combination of all three songs( and those not noted here) shows exactly why this record could potentially be one of the year’s best new rock records.

Randy Bachman has proven time and again throughout his career why he remains one of the most respected figures in the rock community decades after he first rose to fame. And as the songs noted here show, he has proven yet again exactly why he is held on one of those pedestals of rock’s greatest icons. The songs not noted here prove that just as much, not to ignore them, either. The combination of those songs with the compositions noted here show Heavy Blues as an example of how rock can be heavy without being heavy metal. It shows why this record is one that every rock purist should have in his or her music library. And it shows why it is potentially one of the best new rock records of the year. Randy Bachman will tour in support of Heavy Blues beginning April 1st in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The tour includes a stint on the 2016 installment of the Rock Legends Cruise. His current tour schedule is available online now along with all of his latest news at:

Website: http://randybachman.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Randy-Bachman/186355994906457

Twitter: http://twitter.com/randysvinyltap

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.

Little Ones Will Love eOne’s Latest Wheels On The Bus DVD

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

The latest collection of episodes from eOne’s series The Wheels on the Bus is another fun time for children, parents, and teachers. It’s a good fit for toddlers and pre-school age children. That’s thanks to the mix of music and lessons shared throughout the three episodes contained on the disc. That’s just part of what makes the DVD another piece worth watching. The total run time of the DVD is roughly thirty-six minutes. That makes the run time of each of the episodes about twelve minutes total. That’s just about right for the attention span of the program’s intended viewers. That aspect along with the combination of songs and lessons in each episode makes this DVD all the more fun for young viewers and their families.

The main factor that makes The Wheels on the Bus: A Day at the Farm another fun DVD from eOne and One Happy Child is the combination of more musical numbers and lessons spread across the DVD’s three episodes. The songs included in each episode include even more new verses to the beloved children’s song. The new verses written for each episode don’t necessarily apply directly to the episodes themselves. That doesn’t take away anything from the verses. They’ll actually have younger viewers singing and dancing along just as much as the song’s original verses. And the songs written specifically for each episode’s given story will have younger viewers singing and dancing along just as much. This applies even in the end credits sequence for each episode. Each episode has its own outtakes during its end credits. And along with the outtakes is another original song that makes the viewing experience even more enjoyable.

The musical numbers included within the context of each episode are just part of what makes the DVD in whole enjoyable for younger viewers. The lessons shared throughout the episodes add to each episode’s enjoyment. There is a lesson about the importance of healthy eating in one episode. Another teaches about service dogs. It teaches how they are trained from their puppy years up through their adult years. The DVD’s opening episode teaches a lesson about the different animals on the farm. This short lesson is a good starting point for both parents and teachers in discussing the different kinds of animals that live on a farm. It could potentially lead to a field trip of sorts to a farm. The lesson about healthy eating is a great starting point in a discussion for teachers and parents alike to discuss healthy eating habits. This is especially the case considering the epidemic of childhood obesity in America. It’s one more positive to the DVD’s overall viewing experience.

The lessons and the music contained in the episodes on The Wheels on the Bus: A Day at the Farm make up a big part of what makes the DVD in whole enjoyable for children and adults. There is still one more factor to consider in the overall enjoyment of this DVD. That factor is the total run time of the three episodes together. The total run time of this DVD is roughly thirty-six minutes. That puts the total run time of each of the DVD’s three episodes at around twelve minutes tops. Considering that the target audience age of the series is kids ages 1 – 5, a twelve minute run time is just right. Given, the attention span of most viewers in that age range is not that long. But the use of the catchy tunes and lessons taught at the level of said viewers will keep the attention of those viewers just long enough. Keeping this in mind, the DVD in whole becomes all the more enjoyable whether used in the classroom or the living room. It becomes a piece that parents, teachers, and students should give at least one watch.

The Wheels on the Bus: A Day at the Farm is available now on DVD in stores and online. It was released this past Tuesday, June 3rd. It can be ordered online from Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Wheels-Bus-Day-at-Farm/dp/B00J5BCV5M/ref=sr_1_8?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1402243779&sr=1-8&keywords=The+Wheels+on+the+Bus. More information on this and other releases from Entertainment One is available online at http://entertainmentone.com/home. 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.

Sound Of Contact Announces New Tour Dates

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Sound of Contact is coming to the United States this Spring and Summer.

The band has confirmed that it will take part in the Moody Blues Cruise and the Cruise to the Edge this Spring before embarking on a handful of dates late next month.  The Moody Blues Cruise sets sail Wednesday, April 8th from Miami, Florida.  It will take guests through the Bahamas and to Grand Turk Island, Turks & Caicos before returning to Miami on Monday, April 7th.  Sound of Contact will join The Moody Blues, Starship, Little River Band, and special guest Roger Daltry of The Who among a number of other artists and bands.  More information on the Moody Blues Cruise is available online at http://moodiescruise.com and http://www.facebook.com/moodiescruise.

Band founder Simon Collins and his band mates will have a quick turnaround once they return to port from the Moody Blues Cruise.  That is because they head right back out to sea Wednesday, April 8th for the Cruise to the Edge.  That cruise will take guests Cozumel by way of Miami and Honduras.  It will leave port Wednesday, April 8th and return to Miami Saturday, April 12th.  Sound of Contact will join YES, Marillion, Queensryche, Scale the Summit, and a number of other acts that are scheduled to perform during the cruise.  More information on the Cruise to the Edge is available online at http://cruisetotheedge.com, http://www.facebook.com/cruisetotheedge, and http://twitter.com/cruisetotheedge.

Once Sound of Contact returns from its marathon cruise run, the band will take some much needed down time before kicking off its North American tour April 26th.  The band will kick off its North American tour at SIR Studios in Los Angeles, California.  The band’s complete cruise and tour schedule is listed below.

Wednesday – April 2, 2014 Moody Blues Cruise
Thursday – April 3, 2014 Moody Blues Cruise
Friday – April 4, 2014 Moody Blues Cruise
Saturday April 5, 2014 Moody Blues Cruise
Sunday – April 6, 2014 Moody Blues Cruise
Monday – April 7, 2014 Moody Blues Cruise / Cruise To The Edge
Tuesday – April 8, 2014 Cruise To The Edge
Wednesday – April 9, 2014 Cruise To The Edge
Thursday – April 10, 2014 Cruise To The Edge
Friday – April 11, 2014 Cruise To The Edge
Saturday – April 12, 2014 Cruise To The Edge

Saturday – April 26, 2014 Los Angeles, CA, America – SIR Studios
Wednesday – April 30, 2014 Quebec City, QC, Canada – Le Cabaret du Capitole
Thursday – May 1, 2014 Toronto, ON, Canada – Rock Pile East
Friday – May 2, 2014 Chicago, IL, America – Reggies Rock Club
Saturday – May 3, 2014 Gettysburg, PA, America – RoSFest

Ticket information for the band’s upcoming performances will be announced soon.  More information on tickets and Sound of Contact is available online at http://www.facebook.com/soundofcontact.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Black Utopia Re-Issue Another Hit For Sherinian

Courtesy:  Armoury Records/Eagle RockEntertainment

Courtesy: Armoury Records/Eagle RockEntertainment

Derek Sherinian’s second solo album Black Utopia is an interesting work from this world renowned keyboardist.  There is so much to say about this record and not enough space or time to go into everything.  So instead of rambling, we’ll hit on the main points of what makes this album just as enjoyable for Sherinian’s fans the second time around as it was in its original release.   The first aspect of this album that makes it so enjoyable is its sequencing.  That is to say the order of the songs.  The second factor that listeners will appreciate (especially those that might be hearing the album for the first time) is the A-list guest stars that agreed to be a part of this album.  The third factor in the success of the album’s re-issue is the reworked liner notes.  All three of these factors together make Black Utopia an album that any Derek Sherinian fan will appreciate just as much in its new re-issue as they did in its initial release some ten years ago.

The success of Black Utopia is thanks in large part to its sequencing.  The album’s sequencing greatly exhibits the understanding of and appreciation for music possessed by both Derek Sherinian and co-producer Simon Phillips.  The pair treat Black Utopia as if they were creating a set list for a live show.  The energy of the songs rises and falls just enough throughout the course of the album’s nine tracks to keep listeners fully engaged.  That energy rises and falls just enough within the context of the songs themselves to make the energy in the transitions between songs even more impactful.  It shows on a deeper level, the pair’s understanding of and appreciation for their craft.  The resultant effect is one the makes this album one of those rare albums that listeners will want to take in from start to finish without skipping even one song. It’s just the starting point of the album’s success, too. And that’s saying something.

Black Utopia’s success is thanks in large part to its sequencing.  The sequencing of the songs would be moot without the music crafted by Sherinian and the guest musicians that make appearances on this album.  That is the second factor in this album’s creation that makes it a success.  Sherinian invited some of the biggest names in the business to join him on this record.  And it’s a good thing they accepted his invitation.  Among those major names are the likes of Simon Phillips (The Who, Judas Priest, Gary Moore, etc.), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Al Di Meola (Return To Forever, Chick Corea), Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Sheehan (Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big) and others.  Their talents are well shared throughout the record.  The whole group teams up on the album’s opener for what is without a doubt one of the album’s absolute best works.  Malmsteen puts on a virtual clinic with his shredding, while Sherinian himself manages somehow to mix in a touch of jazz/fusion at one point, adding even more flare and substance to the song.  And the combination of Zakk Wylde, Simon Phillips, Tony Franklin and Jerry Goodman on ‘Nightmare Cinema’ is incredible.  Sherinian’s etherial keyboard part set against Phillips’ drumming early on perfectly illustrates the song’s title.  It establishes quite the eerie vibe.  The eventual addition of Wylde on guitar adds even more depth to the song as it progresses.  It is simply something that must be heard in order to be fully appreciated.  The same can be noted of the album’s remaining tracks.  Sherinian  and his fellow musicians come together on each song to show just why their addition to Black Utopia is such an important part of the album’s overall success.

The who’s  who of musicians recruited to record Black Utopia alongside Derek Sherinian is just as important to the success of the album as its sequencing.  Without the talent of the musicians in question, the sequencing would not be all that important to discuss.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case here.  And because it wasn’t the case, it leaves only one remaining factor to note of this re-issue.  The factor in question is the updated liner notes included with the album.  This time out, Black Utopia includes an article crafted by journalist Joe Lalaina, of Guitar World magazine.  Lalaina outlines the album in his own words.  Sherinian’s own thoughts on Black Utopia are also included as a follow-up to Lalaina.  Listeners will take special interest in Sherinian’s comment about working with Brian Tichy (Something Unto Nothing, Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol).  He notes that it was his friendship and working relationship with Tichy that led the pair to work together on this album.  There’s also mention of his excitement of working with both Yngwie Malmsteen and Al Di Meola.  One of his comments in particular regarding this can’t be repeated here.  But it will most definitely have listeners laughing.  It’s the finishing touch to an album that any hard rock fan should hear at least once now that it has been re-issued by Armoury Records.  More information on this and other albums from Derek Sherinian is available online at http://www.dereksherinian.com.  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.

Eagle Rock’s Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert Re-Issue An Amazing Way To Finish Off The Year

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Freddie Mercury, the late front man of the legendary rock band Queen, was in his time one of the single most charismatic vocalists in the music industry.  Many vocalists have tried to emulate the legendary singer’s energy and style.  Few if any have succeeded.  Sadly, Freddy Mercury was taken from the world in 1991, one of so many victims of the then emerging AIDS epidemic.  The music world paid tribute to his legacy and memory in 1992 with a special live tribute concert.  The concert, held at London’s Wembley Stadium has become one of the biggest and most  powerful live concert events of the Twentieth Century, even after more than two decades since it was originally held.  The only concert event that could compare to this event is Woodstock ’94.  And now thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, the legacy of Freddie Mercury lives on once again thanks to the Blu-ray release of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.  While this SD Blu-ray release of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert is not the first time that the concert has been released to the masses, this release is the concert’s best yet.    There is so much to be said of this latest re-issue.  The best place to start is the overall audio and video presentation.  Those charged with resurrecting the original footage are to be commended as the concert is presented here in its full original glory.  Audiences get to see the show as it looked in its original recording.  The audio sounds just as good.  This is especially the case for those with home theater systems.  The cinematography is incredible to say the least.  The crowd shots and shots of the crowd from the stage are collectively the epitome of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.  And of course, there is also the show’s set list and list of performers.  Both by themselves and collectively, they make a bold statement that puts the finishing touch on this incredible latest re-issue from Eagle Rock Entertainment.

The first and most obvious factor to investigate in Eagle Rock’s new re-issue of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert is the audio and video mix.  This concert was recorded almost twenty-two years ago.  April 20th, 2014 will mark the twenty-second anniversary of this landmark concert.  Being that high definition recording was still years away when this concert was recorded, it’s obvious that the quality of the footage would not be crystal clear in this presentation.  But Eagle Rock openly noted on the recording’s case that this presentation is a Standard Definition Blu-ray.  That means that Eagle Rock openly notes that the presentation contained therein is a standard definition recording.  Those expecting pure 1080 quality video have only misled themselves.  Eagle Rock Entertainment is not to blame here.  That the footage still looks as good as it does over two decades later is a testament to those charged with maintaining and resurrecting it.  And having the option to set one’s TV to “Cinema” to gain the full concert video experience only serves to make it even better.

The quality of the concert’s video footage is impressive to say the very least.  It is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio.  Though, with the advent of high definition televisions, most viewers can set their monitors to present the concert in full “Cinema” mode.  That mode shows better than any how well the footage has stood the test of time.  The audio mix is just as impressive as the video in terms of its quality.  Every riff, every beat, and every chorus from the crowd of thousands is enhanced on this re-issue.  In comparison to the concert’s previous releases, the audio mix has never sounded better.  It has been enhanced so much that at times, the echoes of Brian May’s voice as he talked will make audiences think they are actually there in person.  It has been mixed that well.  That is quite the testament to those charged with restoring this concert to its former glory.  And along with the footage, it is one part of a very strong cornerstone of this recording.

The video and audio mixes serve collectively as a solid base for The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.  The concert’s cinematography adds an extra element of enjoyment to the recording, too.  Much as was the case with Eagle Rock’s release of The Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park Live this Fall, the camera shots obtained over the course of this concert are extraordinary.  There is something to be said about an entire stadium full of people singing in unison, arms high in the air, clapping in time. The visual effect both from the stage and from high above the sea of bodies is something that cannot be put into words.  It is something that must be seen to be fully appreciated.  Even seeing the shots in question from one’s own sofa, bed, etc. is awe inspiring.  They collectively go to show the love that so many people had for Freddie Mercury and for Queen.  While the concert’s audio and video mixes are the foundation on which the concert rests, the shots obtained by the camera crews give the show its shape.  And what a shape those crews give the concert.

As one should be able to tell from everything noted already, there is much to like about Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new re-issue of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on SD Blu-ray.  Much has already been examined with this latest release from the leader in live recordings.  But it would not be complete without making mention of the concert’s set list and its equally diverse lineup of performers.  The show itself is set up into two separate segments.  The first of those segments is the “Opening Acts” segment.  This segment allows some of the acts tapped to perform at the concert to perform their own music and warm up the crowd at the same time.  This segment runs the gamut to say the very least.  It opens with a trio of songs from Metallica and follows that up with a medley of Queen hits courtesy of Extreme.  Guns N’ Roses (the original Guns N’ Roses) closes out the opening acts segments.  Def Leppard is also one of the opening acts.  Their front man, Joe Elliot, joins Elton John, George Michael, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, and so many other acts from across the music industry for the “Main Show” segment of the recording.  Having such a wide array of artists covering the music of one band is a bold statement.  It shows the impact that Queen had on them as bands and artists.  It also goes to show the respect that those bands and artists had for Freddie Mercury.  It goes to show the kind of person he was and how important he was to so many around him.  Keeping that in mind while watching the incredible shots, and hearing the equally incredible song selections is sure to bring a smile and maybe even a tear to some viewers’ faces.  If it does one, the other, or both, then it has most certainly done its job.  It means that Eagle Rock is that much more justified in once again unearthing this important piece of music history.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  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.