Viking Metallers Amon Amarth Are Victorious In Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Live DVDs & Blu-rays List

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

As the final few days of 2018 wind down, there is still some work to be done by critics putting in their year-ender lists.  That includes this critic.

This critic’s most recent year-ender focused on the year’s top new live CDs.  In a gradual transition to movies and television, there is still one more music list to present — the year’s top new live DVDs/BDs.  As has been noted previously, there are some live recordings that translate in  relatively acceptable fashion, but there are also others that can and should only be experienced with the full audio-visual experience.

Keeping this in mind, it is only fair to examine the year’s best new live DVDs and Blu-rays.  Topping this year’s list is Amon Amarth’s The Pursuit of Vikings25 Years in the Eye of the Storm.  There is nothing negative to say about this presentation.  The extensive documentary outlines the band’s career from the band’s own mouths, showing the group as a hard-working, blue-collar outfit that has earned its place in the metal and music communities.  The equally expansive two-night, 30-song set pulls from almost every one of the band’s albums.  The performance is great, as are the production values.

Second Place in this year’s list of the year’s best new live DVDs/BDs goes to Devin Townsend Project’s Ocean Machine Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv.  This performance features Townsend performing Ocean Machine live in its entirety along with an equally extensive by-request set.  That combination makes for a great set list.  As with Amon Amarth’s live recording, the group’s performance ensures audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment, even at home.  The same can be said of the production values.  The whole makes the recording yet another that is best experienced with the full audio-visual presentation versus just the audio alone.

Third Place in this year’s list of the top new live DVDs and Blu-rays goes to The Rolling Stones’ San Jose, California ’99 show from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The recording is everything that audiences have come to expect from one of the elite of the elite acts in the music industry today.  The extensive 20-song set list doesn’t play it safe, instead giving audiences material that is less common in the band’s previous live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The group’s performance (including that of the touring musicians) couples with the production values to make the performance yet another must have for any true fan of The Rolling Stones.

Also featured in this year’s list are the new live recordings from Anthrax, The Robert Glasper Experiment and Opeth, just to name a few more acts.  As always, the first 10 titles in the last are the best, while the next five are honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 New Live DVDs & Blu-rays.


  1. Amon Amarth — The Pursuit of Vikings25 Years in the Eye of the Storm
  2. Devin Townsend Project — Ocean Machine Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv
  3. The Rolling Stones — No Security: San Jose ’99
  4. The Rolling Stones — Voodoo Lounge Uncut
  5. Accept — Symphonic Terror
  6. Opeth — Garden of the TitansLive at Red Rocks
  7. Anthrax — Kings Among Scotland
  8. The Sound of Music Live
  9. Steven Wilson — Home Invasion Live at the Royal Albert Theatre
  10. Norah Jones — Live at Ronnie Scott’s
  11. Tommy Shaw & The Contemporary Youth Orchestra — Sing For The Day!
  12. The Moody Blues — Days of Future Passed Live
  13. Overkill — Live in Overhausen
  14. Robet Glasper Experiment — Live
  15. Lacuna Coil — The 119 Show Live in London

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Styx Fans Will “Sing” The Praises Of Shaw’s New Live Recording, Despite Its Audio Issues

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Almost 50 years ago, the British hard rock band Deep Purple broke new ground for the rock industry when it partnered with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the band’s now landmark Concerto for Group and Orchestra recording.  In the near half-century that has passed since that groundbreaking performance and recording, rock bands performing with professional orchestral groups has become an increasingly commonplace occurrence.  Other great names such as Eric Clapton, Yes, Metallica, KISS and others have since gone on to perform with such groups in a live setting.  Styx is one of the most recent of those others, having performed live in 2006 with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra for its live recording, One With Everything.  In 2016, Styx vocalist Tommy Shaw returned to Ohio to mark the 10th anniversary of that performance with a new performance with the same group (made up by then of a new group of young musicians).  That performance with the high school orchestra and chorus was released June 29 of this year through Eagle Rock Entertainment in the form of the new recording Sing for the Day.  Released separately on Blu-ray and CD, the recording is a positive offering despite having one notable problem – its audio.  This problem will be discussed a little later.  That’s because it also boasts its share of positives, beginning with its set list, which will be discussed shortly.  The group’s performance is another of the recording’s most notable positives.  When it is coupled with the set list, the two positives prove the recording to be one that Styx fans will still welcome in their home music libraries.

Styx vocalist Tommy Shaw’s new live recording Sing For The Day is a recording that any Styx fan will welcome in his or her music library.  That is due in part through the recording’s set list.  Composed of 13 songs (and 4 bonus audio tracks), the set list takes audiences through Shaw’s career including his work with Styx, his solo work and even his time as a member of Damn Yankees.  Counting the bonus audio tracks – included only in the recording’s Blu-ray presentation – the set list focuses largely on Shaw’s work with Styx, with eight total Styx songs presented in the set.  Shaw’s solo work is represented with four songs.  That’s including the bonus audio tracks.  The Damn Yankees tracks come in at a count of just two songs while Shaw’s classic tracks with fellow Damn Yankees member Jack Blades sits at the same number.  In all, the set list totals 14 songs and lifts from some of the most notable of Shaw’s works.  In other words, it paints a relatively rich picture of Shaw’s career, which his most devout fans are certain to appreciate.  Something that audiences will really appreciate in taking in the set (at least the audio-visual portion) is that each song is noted specifically on screen with what is known as a “super” to distinctly present each song’s title.  It makes following the show that much easier and more enjoyable.  The performance of those songs is coupled with short interview segments at certain points throughout the concert to add their own interest and insight to the overall experience, thus making the experience that much more enjoyable.  However, they also lead to the discussion of the recording’s one glaring negative – its audio.

As the interview segments and concert segments go back and forth throughout the presentation, the audio level consistently rises and falls between the two elements.  The result is that audiences are forced to constantly adjust the volume on their TVs.  This applies even for audiences watching on home theater systems, but should not be a factor.  It’s a rare instance in which an Eagle Rock recording has suffered from an audio issue.  Even within the concert segments themselves, there are moments in which audiences will find themselves having to make minor, yet constant, adjustments to the volume.  While it doesn’t make the recording in whole unwatchable, it can’t be denied that this issue does detract from the overall viewing experience in this instance.  Again, while it is an undeniable problem for the recording, it is not so bad that it makes the recording unwatchable.  Keeping that in mind, there is at least one more positive to discuss here – the group’s overall performance.

The energy in the group’s performance, which is addressed in one of the concert’s companion interview segments, is evident throughout the concert both from Shaw and his teen counterparts.  That applies both as the kids play and as they add visuals to songs such as ‘Boat on the River’ and ‘Renegade.’  The smiles on the young musicians’ faces, and the power in each song shows that the group in whole truly enjoyed taking part in the performance.  Even with the recording’s audio issues, that enjoyment could be heard just as well as it could be seen.  It translates that well overall on screen from the highest moments, such as at the end of ‘Renegade,’ when Shaw is joined on stage by a young violin soloist for a riveting conclusion to that song and in a more emotional moment such as the whole of ‘Boat on the River.’  Between those notable moments and so many others throughout this concert, the performance put in by the group in whole offers just as much to appreciate as the show’s rich set list.  When those two elements are coupled, they make the recording in whole well worth the watch, even with the constant up and down of the audio between the concert and interview segments.  Keeping this in mind, the recording in whole still proves to be another welcome addition to any Styx fan’s home music library.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new Styx/Tommy Shaw live recording Sing for the Day is a live recording that any Styx fan will appreciate.  That is proven in part through a set list that reaches deep into vocalist Tommy Shaw’s rich career, including his time with Styx, Damn Yankees and even his solo work.  Counting the four bonus audio-only tracks, the recording’s total set list equals out to 14 songs from that rich catalog.  Shaw’s performance with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra is one that is full of energy and emotion from start to end.  That energy and emotion is certain to keep audiences just as engaged as the concert’s set list.  The one negative to the whole thing is the constant up and down of the volume between the concert and interview segments.  Audiences should not have to have remote in hand so as to constantly increase and decrease the volume throughout the recording.  It isn’t enough to make the recording unwatchable, but does detract from the recording’s overall presentation.  Even with that in mind, the combination of the group’s performance and the show’s set list is still just enough to make the recording a welcome addition to any Styx fan’s home music library.  It is available now on separate Blu-ray and CD platforms.  More information on Sing for the Day is available online now along with all of the latest Styx and Tommy Shaw news at:










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