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

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Loner’s Society Impresses On Autumn + Colour Debut

Courtesy: Autumn + Colour

Courtesy: Autumn + Colour

The Charleston, South Carolina based indie band Loner’s Society is set to release its new live EP King City Sessions next month. The five-track recording is a good introduction for those that might be less familiar with the band and just as enjoyable for those that are more familiar with its works. What’s most interesting about the band’s new release is the sound of the songs included in the recording. The songs are interesting in their own right because of their musical and emotional depth. But they don’t exactly sound like the description of the band’s sound on its official Facebook page. According to the band’s official Facebook page, the band is “comparable to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers if The Heartbreakers had been comprised from members of: Pearl Jam, Rancid, and The Temptations.” That wording comes verbatim from the band’s Facebook page. And it’s quite a mix of influences. But as listeners will notice right from the recording’s outset, its sound is more comparable to Bob Dylan and certain classic Country Western acts than any of the acts noted on the band’s Facebook page. Where Loner’s Society does finally start to bear more of the Pearl Jam meets Rancid sound is on the recording’s fourth song, ‘Autum Breeze.’ These two songs (and the recording’s remaining trio of live tracks) make King City Sessions quite the live recording even as short as it is.

Loner’s Society opens its upcoming live EP with the song ‘LaGrange.’ This song is an interesting introduction because of the throwback vibe that it conjures up among listeners. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Megrue openly states in the song in almost Lou Reed style, “And we recorded a record/Then we loaded the van/The last thing the world needed was another punk rock band/So I spent the next five years just barely getting’ by/Cause as time goes by it’s certain/That certain things’ll change/And you can spend your whole life working/Trying to stay the same/But plan on doin’ doubles till you die/At that diner in LaGrange. The line about the last thing the world needing was another punk rock band is very telling. It goes back to the previously noted difference in the sound of the songs included on this recording versus the band’s own description of its sound. This song sounds anything like a punk rock band. It’s more of a Country Western style piece interestingly enough. Even that first verse’s remaining lines line up more with old school Country Western than punk, Pearl Jam, and especially The Temptations. For all of its deep introspection, there is one funny moment in this song in which Megrue sings about things he’s seen in his life. He sings “I’ve seen marriages, divorces, babies, and divorces.” That must be one heck of a lot of divorces. Whether or not it was meant to be joking, it’s such a subtle joke that one can’t help but laugh a little bit hearing the emphasis on divorces that have been seen. That subtlety set alongside the song’s more heartfelt introspective musical and lyrical elements make it an excellent introduction for the band in every sense of the word.

‘LaGrange’ is a solid opener for the band’s new upcoming live recording.  It’s just one of the recording’s most interesting of points.  The recording’s penultimate performance of ‘Autumn Breeze’ is another of those high points.  It is more along the lines of the band’s described sound.  It starts off gently enough, but eventually picks up and bears more of an indie-folk/rock sound.  Listeners can feel such emotion as Megrue sings, “I can feel that Autumn breeze/Blowing in from Tennessee/It soaks my nights in whiskey dreams/Old cruel winds just speak to me.”  There’s a certain pain in Megue’s voice as he sings this verse that tugs at the heart.  The song takes a more driving feel from there.  Even with that more up-tempo feel, the song doesn’t lose the pained emotional state established early on in its near five-minute run time.  It all makes for what is easily one of the highest of this live EP’s performances.

‘Autumn Breeze’ and ‘LaGrange’ are both great additions to King City Sessions.  Regardless of whether or not audiences are familiar with these songs or the others included in this new EP, every listener will agree that they and the EP’s other trio of songs make this recording a welcome new release from the band.  If the five songs contained on this EP aren’t enough for some, then fans need not worry as they’ll get their chance to hear the band live in person, too.  Loner’s Society is currently scheduled to perform at the Deep South Bar in Raleigh, North Carolina this Saturday, January 18th.  The performance is an 18+ show.  Tickets are $5.  They can be  purchased online at http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/428839?__utmx=-&__utmv=-&__utmk=206623635&__utmz=1.1387914625.3.3.utmcsr%3Dgoogle%7Cutmccn%3D%28organic%29%7Cutmcmd%3Dorganic%7Cutmctr%3D%28not+provided%29&__utma=1.1393594094.1385825001.1387914625.1387926374.4&__utmc=1&__utmb=1.1.10.1387926374&wrKey=28A0D047C3315AD262485FE7F569EDFE.  The show is currently scheduled to begin at 6pm.  Fans of Loner’s Society can find out about all of the band’s tour updates, news and more online at http://www.lonerssociety.com, http://www.facebook.com/lonerssociety and http://twitter.com/lonerssociety.  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.

Chacon’s Self-Titled LP A Solid Sophomore Effort

Courtesy: Pie Records/Kayos Productions

Folk/country artist Thom Chacon’s upcoming sophomore self-titled album is quite the listen.  Typically, the case with sophomore albums is that much like movie sequels, they rarely live up to the expectations created by the first opus.  That’s not the case with Thom Chacon.  His new album carries a similar feel to that of his 2010 Pie Records debut, Featherweight Fighter.  But it has an overall different sound.  Whereas Featherweight Fighter sounded like something that Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder would have crafted for a solo record, this new record shows more influence from the likes of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and even Bruce Springsteen to a lesser extent.

Chacon’s sophomore release carries the influence of Dylan, Springsteen, and Petty both musically and lyrically.  The album’s opener is proof of that.  ‘Innocent Man’ is an obviously Dylan influenced song all the way around.  Chacon sings mournfully about a man who has been wrongfully convicted of something he didn’t do.  He sings, “I swear on the lord, I’m an innocent man.”  Even when he becomes more defiant, singing, “You can all go to hell, I’m an innocent man”, his response is so subdued.  That subdued nature makes this a tragically beautiful song.  That being noted, it does the job setting the tone for what listeners can expect in this new release.

The follow-up to ‘Innocent Man’ is just as painful and real.  ‘American Dream’ comes across as a commentary on the housing crisis in America.  He sings, “Got a letter in the mail today/said we’re gonna foreclose/I wanna check out of this place but/I’m broke/I’m living the American Dream/For sure/I’m worth more dead/Cause baby, I owe.”  Chacon doesn’t pull any punches here.  He puts it right out on the table.  This song instantly conjures images of the damages done to the American housing industry since about 2008.  And the way in which he sings the song, it makes those images that much more vivid in listeners’ minds.  That’s a powerful statement when a musician can hit home so hard so easily with a few words.

The few words of ‘American Dream’ make up just one more of the many interesting tracks here.  For all the harsh realistic songs that Chacon has on his new album, he does offer listeners something more upbeat in the form of ‘A Life Beyond Here.’  What really makes this song interesting are its spiritual aspect and his love for his mother.  He sings, “I tried and tried the faith/It just wouldn’t take/Now I’m a man/who never believed/But maw/When you left this world/I was able to see/There’s a life/Beyond here/I don’t’ know much/But I know you’re near/Don’t believe in anything/But this much is clear/that there’s a life/Beyond here.”  It’s a bittersweet song, yes.  But it’s also more positive than the album’s other songs, too.  It will easily bring tears to the eyes of anyone who really listens to it and takes his lyrics as he meant them to be heard. 

As is noted here, the songs on Thom Chacon’s new self-titled LP will hit home in so many different emotional avenues.  They make for a hit for anyone that is a fan of real old school folk/country style music.  But the lyrics aren’t all that make the album a success for fans of said genre.  The songs’ length is another positive to this record.  The longest of the tracks on this record clocks in at less than four minutes long.  The shortest comes in at two minutes and eleven seconds.  So not only do the songs paint powerful pictures in listeners’ minds, their length makes them that much more easy on the ears and minds of listeners, too.  The two factors combined add up to proof of the old adage that less is more.  Each song is a short story that paints a big picture. That ultimately is what makes Chacon’s new upcoming release a welcome new collection of songs for both his own fans and for fans of the folk/country style as a whole.  Chacon’s new album is set to hit stores in early 2013.  While audiences await its arrival, they can go online to get the latest news and more from Thom Chacon online at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thom-Chacon/188502570061 and at http://www.thomchacon.com

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The Outlaws Have Plenty Of Reason To Be “Proud” Of Their New LP

Courtesy: Rocket Science Ventures

The Outlaws is coming!  Get it?  It’s a movie reference for those who might not have known.  The movie in question is The Three Stooges’ 1965 movie by the same name.  Of course that movie was anything but good, thanks to one Curly Joe DeRita.  It isn’t the focus of today’s review.  The Outlaws in question getting the focus today is the Tampa Bay, Florida based Southern Rock band.  The Outlaws has been making music for four decades.  This band has been there through thick and thin during the entire course of its career.  And next month, The Outlaws will release its eleventh full length studio album, titled, “It’s About Pride.”

“It’s About Pride” is a fitting title for the band’s new album as it’s an album of which the band’s fans new and old will be proud.  The album opens strongly with the song, ‘Tomorrow’s Another Night.’  It’s a straight forward country rock style song with a hopeful chorus that in its own way outlines everything that this band has been through in its career.  The band sings in the chorus, “Tomorrow’s another night/Maybe the light will shine on me/I’ll take what I’m given/And I’ll hold on tight/Win or lose/it’s gonna be alright/But tomorrow’s another night.”  The song drives, musically speaking, through its entire four and a half minute run time, keeping listeners’ ears the whole time.  The multi-guitar “attack” and guitar solos add their own flare to the song, too.

The band follows up ‘Tomorrow’s Another Night’ with an equally driving song in ‘Hidin’ Out in Tennessee.’  It’s basically another song about life on the road for a band.  This type of song is nothing new to the music business.  It crosses the border from rock to country.  But rather than taking the Bon Jovi or Kid Rock route, The Outlaws take a more positive outlook here, singing, “Nobody knows where an outlaw goes/and they d*** sure don’t wanna be found/If you’re lookin’ for me/I’ll be hiding out in Tennessee.”  The song breaks down into a mini jam session from the last chorus that will get any pure blood country fan on his or her feet.  It’s a great way to finish off this song and segue into the next.

That next song is the album’s title track.  And it’s bound to be one of the album’s biggest hits.  For that matter it could very well become one of the band’s biggest hits in its entire four decade long career.  Front man Henry Paul sings of the band’s roots, and its pride in those roots.  As noted in the band’s bio, this song tells the story of how the band has endured so much and has still come back for more.  As with ‘Hidin’ Out In Tennessee’, the multi-guitar attack adds its own touch.  The music in general really catches the vibe of the song’s lyrics, too.  It helps to convey the band’s early history and everything that it has faced to get where it is today.   

The album’s opening trio of tracks is a great way to start off what is a great return for a band that’s been away for quite some time.  They are only part of the overall success of the album, though.  Fans will also enjoy the George Thorogood style ‘Born To Be Bad’ and the Neil Young/Lynyrd Skynyrd styled ‘Trouble Rides A Fast Horse.’  Fans of fellow southern rock acts such as the Eagles and Tom Petty will like ‘Trail of Tears’ and ‘Right Where I Belong.’  ‘Trail of Tears’ is a touching story of what happened to the Native American community as a result of the Indian Removal Act of 1830.  Whether these songs or any others, fans will all have more than their share of favorite songs.  They all combine to make for an album that any fan of southern rock and/or country will enjoy.

“It’s About Pride” hits stores Tuesday, September 25th via Rocket Science Ventures.  While fans wait for the album’s release, they can see them live on tour.  The band will be in Vernal, Utah next Friday, August 17th for the annual Country Explosion.  To see more tour dates and keep up with all the latest from The Outlaws, fans can check them out online at http://www.outlawsmusic.com, http://www.facebook.com/outlawsmusic, http://twitter.com/outlawsmusic, and on the band’s official YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/outlawsmusic.

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