Rhino, Warner Records’ Black Sabbath Re-issues Are Mostly Successful Presentations

Courtesy: Rhino Records/Warner Records

It goes without saying that Black Sabbath is one of the most important and influential bands in the modern history of music.  The same can be said easily of its second front man, Ronnie James Dio.  The two sides came together to craft only three albums – Heaven and Hell (1980), Mob Rules (1981), and Dehumanizer (1992) – amid their tumultuous relationship.  Now thanks to Rhino Records and Warner Records, the first two of those three records are newly available.  Released Friday through Rhino Records and Warner Records, the re-issues will find appeal among audiences, though are imperfect.  The imperfection comes from concerns raised through the incongruence of the bonus content between the re-issues’ platforms.  This will be discussed a little later.  The re-issues’ most important positive comes in the form of their liner notes.  They will be discussed shortly.  That the re-issues are available on two platforms each is its own important element that will be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the re-issues’ presentations.  All things considered, they make the re-issues mostly positive additions to any hard rock and Black Sabbath fan’s library.

Rhino Records and Warner Records’ new re-issues of Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules are interesting new presentations of the iconic albums.  The records’ re-issues stand out positively in large part due to their liner notes.  The liner notes featured in the Heaven and Hell re-issue were crafted by Rolling Stone magazine writer Kory Grow and artist Lynn Curlee, who created the album’s original cover art.  The duo’s notes create a solid framework for the record.  One of the most interesting items that Grow points out in his notes is that apparently, Ronnie James Dio was not immediately on board when the vocalist opening came up with Black Sabbath.  Grow cites comments from Dio’s wife Wendy, writing that she said of this item, “When Ronnie went into Sabbath, I don’t think he was elated about the job at first…he was more of a melodic  singer and writer.”  Grow goes on to note that Dio eventually found his place within the band.  This is information that audiences are not going to find on Wikipedia when researching Black Sabbath, and just one of Grow’s most notable reflections.   He also points out how the job of firing Ozzy Osbourne from the band ended up on then drummer Bill Ward.  Grow cites Ward in the liner notes’ opening page as saying of the unenviable duty, “Sometimes I don’t know if I’ve ever actually gotten over it.”  That statement would make sense, considering Ward’s own unceremonious departure from the band.  The guilt he felt likely led to Ward’s own alcoholism, and the fight that led to his split from the group.   As if all of that is not enough, Grow also points out that Dio’s famed devil horns sign rose to fame during his first-ever live run with Black Sabbath.  The story is so interesting because, as Grow points out, the development of the hand gesture was in fact part of Dio’s much bigger attempt to separate himself as a personality from Osbourne.  It shows how deeply Dio thought about making sure he was not compared to Osbourne.  This is one more item that is sure to engage and entertain audiences in regards to the liner notes.  When the rest of Grow’s notes are considered along with the items pointed out here, the whole of his work in this case makes for a fully engaging and entertaining introduction to the album.

Staying on the note of the liner notes, Curlee’s recollection of how she was picked to create the Heaven and Hell cover art makes for its own interest.  Curlee points out that until having been commissioned to create the cover art, she had never even listened to Black Sabbath.  That admission will generate its own share of laughs and appreciation for her work.  Audiences will be just as interested to learn the back story on the art.  She points out that it in fact was a painting that she had already created prior to having been commissioned for the Heaven and Hell project.  In other words, she did not have to do but so much to create the album’s cover art.  Even more interesting here is Curlee’s note that she has only listened to Heaven and Hell maybe twice in her life.  There is no disrespect aimed at the band, just admission that she is more a fan of 80s new wave than metal.  Curlee’s overall reflections, together with those of Grow, form a solid foundation for Heaven and Hell.  They collectively show so much why the record’s liner notes are so important to its whole.

Grow also crafted the primary liner notes for the re-issue of Mob Rules.  In the case of these notes, audiences will be interested to learn of the connection between Black Sabbath and The Beatles in this record.  Grow tells the story here that in writing the title song for Mob Rules, the band actually used instruments that were themselves used by The Beatles at a house previously used by that band in record.  As Grow points out in his liner notes, the instruments were “found lying around.”  He later points out that when the band later relocated to the U.S. to finish crafting Mob Rules, the title track had to be redone because as Grow notes in using The Beatles’ old equipment, “the sound of the track was completely different from the rest of the record.”  He cites bassist Geezer Butler as saying that the amp that he used at Lennon’s mansion led to sound problems.  This story alone is enough to keep audiences engaged and entertained.  When it is considered along with the rest of Grow’s notes, the whole makes Grow’s notes in this case just as entertaining and engaging as those that he crafted for the Heaven and Hell re-issue. 

Artist Greg Hildebrandt, who created the cover art for Mob Rules adds to the engagement and entertainment through the liner notes.  He points out in his commentary that as with Curlee, he knew nothing of Black Sabbath when he was tapped to create Mob Rules’ cover art.  The difference here is that being commissioned for the project, his fandom for the band grew.  Additionally, Hildebrandt points out in his notes, a nightmare that he had was the inspiration for the Mob Rules cover art.  That anecdote will be left for audiences to learn themselves.   He explains how that painting went on to become the album’s cover.   Here’s a hint:  It happened when Black Sabbath’s members made the first move.  That will also be left for audiences to learn for themselves.  Between these stories and those shared by Grow, no doubt is left as to the importance of this re-issue’s bonus liner notes.  Keeping in mind the importance of these notes and those featured with the Heaven and Hell liner notes, the overall liner notes clearly prove to be an important aspect of these re-issues.  They do a lot to make these re-issues a joy for audiences.  For all the good that the liner notes do for the re-issues, there is one negative to the recordings.  It comes believe it or not through the bonus content.

Typically when one thinks of bonus content, such content is considered a good thing.  For the most part, the bonus content featured in the re-issues is good.  The problem comes in comparing the bonus content featured in the re-issues in their CD and vinyl platforms.   The CD platforms present more bonus content than the vinyl presentations.  In the case of the Heaven and Hell re-issue, the live tracks recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London between Dec. 31, 1981 and Jan. 2 1982 are featured in the re-issue’s CD platform, but not the vinyl presentation.  Everything else is there on each platform in terms of the primary and bonus content, but that one aspect separates the two platforms’ presentations.  In regards to the Mob Rules re-issue, there is a discrepancy in the bonus content here, too.    In this case, the discrepancy is even wider.  The bonus live content from the band’s Apr. 22, 1982 show is presented only on the re-issue’s CD platform.  Why the incongruence happened with the re-issues’ bonus content happened is anyone’s guess.  It is not explained in either record’s liner notes.  Regardless, it is a limitation that rewards only those who buy CDs versus those who prefer vinyl.  It is a weird direct counter to Niji Entertainment’s recent re-issues of Dio’s Evil or Divine: Live in NYC and Holy Diver Live.  Those re-issues were clearly aimed more at Dio fans who prefer vinyl to CD.  These Black Sabbath re-issues, which feature Dio fronting the band, are aimed more at CD aficionados rather than vinyl fans.  That there is a certain bias (intended or not) here detracts from the re-issues’ overall presentations.  Of course even as much as it detracts from the re-issues’ presentations, it is not enough to make them failures.  To that end, there is one more positive to note here, that being that the re-issues were made available on both platforms.

It would have been easy for officials at Rhino Records and Warner Records to limit these Black Sabbath re-issues to just one platform or another in deciding how to release them.  That the decision was made to offer the records to issues on both sides of the “musical aisle” showed that those officials meant to reach as many audiences as possible.  This may seem inconsequential on the surface, but the fact of the matter is that there are labels that to this day, release albums, EPs and re-issues strictly on one platform or another.  Doing so limits record sales, and in turn, appeal for records and acts.  So in providing the re-issues on both platforms means that equal numbers of audiences will get to experience them.  It is just too bad that all of the bonus content was not presented in each platform.  Even with that one negative in mind, the wide availability of the re-issues in terms of platforms, and the liner notes that accompany the re-issues more than make the re-issues positive presentations.  They make the re-issues presentations that hard rock fans and Black Sabbath fans alike will mostly appreciate.

Rhino Records and Warner Records’ brand new re-issues of Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules are largely successful offerings for hard rock and Black Sabbath fans alike.  That is due in part to the extensive liner notes that come with the re-issues.  While the re-issues’ liner notes make for plenty of engagement and entertainment, the re-issues do have one notable negative, the incongruence of certain bonus content between the platforms on which the albums were re-issued.  There is some bonus content featured in the re-issues’ CD presentations that was not featured in their vinyl presentations.  Why that is the case is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, it is not enough to make the re-issues failures, though it is a matter that one cannot ignore.  The very fact that the recordings were re-issued on CD and vinyl ensures a far reaching appeal and potentially high sales for the records.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recordings.  All things considered, they make the recordings welcome additions to any hard rock and Black Sabbath fan’s library.  The re-issues are available now.

More information on this and other titles from Rhino Records is available online at:

Websitehttps://www.rhino.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/RHINO

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/Rhino_Records

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.

Rock Legends Reunite For New Tour

Photo Credit: Mark Weiss

Ozzy Osbourne and Zakk Wylde have re-united.

More than a decade after the duo went its separate ways, it has reunited for a short string of new live dates.  The musicians are partnering for a short string of live headlining dates this summer and fall beginning July 14.

The performances mark the first time since 2006 that Wylde and Osbourne have performed live together.  The last time the men worked together in the studio was on Osbourne’s 2006 record Black Rain.

The new live dates also mark the first time Osbourne has embarked on a solo U.S. tour since his Ozzy & Friends performance at the 2015 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans, LA.

Also joining Ozzy and Wylde for the upcoming live dates will be longtime collaborators Blasko (bass), Tommy Clufetos (drums) and Adam Wakeman (keyboards). Wylde and Osbourne seemed to both be anticipating the upcoming live dates as they talked about hitting the road in recent interviews.

“I’m so happy to be getting back on the road with Zakk, Blasko, Tommy and Adam,” Osbourne said.  “This is what I do.  This is where I belong, on the road.”

Wylde agreed.

“I’m really looking forward to the hardcore powahlifting training sessions with Ozzy as well as playing music in between sets of heavy squats, benching and deadlifts,” Wylde said.

The current listing for the group’s new headlining dates is noted below.


DATE
                        CITY                 VENUE

 

July

Fri, July 14         Oshkosh, WI       Rock USA Festival

Sun, July 16       Chicago, IL         Chicago Open Air Festival

 

August

Wed, August 9    Sturgis, SD          Buffalo Chip

Mon, August 21   Cartersville, IL    Moonstock Festival

Osbourne was said to be working a new solo record at last report. That album reportedly is scheduled for release sometime in 2018 via Epic Records.

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

 

 

 

Website: http://www.ozzy.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OzzyOsbourne

 

 

 

All of Zakk Wylde’s latest news and more is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.zakkwylde.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/zakkwyldebls

 

 

 

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 Sabbath Announces Additional Dates For Its Farewell Tour

Courtesy:  Republic Records/Live Nation

Courtesy: Republic Records/Live Nation

It looks like the end is not as close as was previously thought.

Black Sabbath has announced that because of the popularity of its career-ending tour it has extended the tour well into 2016. The band announced Monday that it has added yet another run of North American dates that will see the band performing well into next fall. The new schedule kicks off August 17th at Jones Beach Amphitheater in New York and includes dates in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto, Detroit, and Dallas. The whole thing winds down September 21st at Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, Arizona. Audiences can check out an updated video announcement about the additional dates online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6lYClpPGLw&feature=youtu.be.

Courtesy:  Republic Records/Live Nation

Courtesy: Republic Records/Live Nation

The band’s updated tour schedule is listed below complete with its newly announced North American Fall 206 dates.

BLACK SABBATH’s 2016 Tour Dates are as follows:
NORTH AMERICA
 
Wed
1/20
Omaha, NE
CenturyLink Center
Fri
1/22
Chicago, IL
United Center
Mon
1/25
Minneapolis, MN
Target Center
Wed
1/27
Winnipeg MN
MTS Centre
Sat
1/30
Edmonton, AB
Rexall Centre
Mon
2/1
Calgary, AB
Scotiabank Saddledome
Wed
2/3
Vancouver, BC
Rogers Arena
Sat
2/6
Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Dome
Tue
2/9
San Jose, CA
SAP Pavilion
Thu
2/11
Los Angeles, CA
The Forum
Sat
2/13
Las Vegas, NV
Mandalay Bay
Mon
2/15
Denver, CO
Pepsi Center
Wed
2/17
Kansas City, MO
Sprint Center
Fri
2/19
Detroit, MI
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Sun
2/21
Hamilton, ON
First Ontario Centre
Tue
2/23
Montreal, QC
Bell Centre
Thu
2/25
New York, NY
Madison Square Garden
Sat
2/27
New York, NY
Madison Square Garden
 
AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND
Fri
4/15
Perth, AU
Perth Arena
Sun
4/17
Adelaide,AU
Entertainment Centre
Tue
4/19
Melbourne,AU
Rod Laver Arena
Sat
4/23
Sydney,AU
Allphones Arena
Mon
4/25
Brisbane, AU
Entertainment Centre
Thurs
4/28
Auckland,NZ
Vector Arena
Sat
4/30
Dunedin,NZ
Forsyth Barr Stadium
 
EUROPE
Wed
6/1
Budapest,Hungary
Groupama Arena
Wed
6/8
Berlin, Germany
Waldebuhne
**Sat
6/11
Donington, UK
Download
Mon
6/13
Verona, IT
Arena Di Verona
Wed
6/15
Zurich, Switzerland
Hallenstadon
**Fri
6/17
Dessel,Belgium
Grasspop
**Thu
6/23
Halden, Norway
Tons of Rock
**Sat
6/25
Copenhagen, DE
Copenhell
Tue
6/28
Vienna, Austria
Stadthalle
Thu
6/30
Prague, Czech Rep.
02 Arena
Sat
7/2
Krakow, Poland
Tauron Arena
Tue
7/5
Riga, Latvia
Riga Arena
**Thu
7/7
Helsinki, Finland
Monsters of Rock
**Sat
7/9
Stockholm, Sweden
Monsters of Rock
Tue
7/12
Moscow, Russia
Olympisky Arena
**Denotes festival appearance
NORTH AMERICA
Wed
8/17
Wantagh, NY
Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Fri
8/19
Philadelphia, PA
Susquehanna Bank Center
Sun
8/21
Washington DC
Jiffy Lube Live
Tue
8/23
Holmdel, NJ
PNC Bank Arts Center
Thu
8/25
Boston, MA
Xfinity Center
Sat
8/27
Uncasville, CT
Mohegan Sun Arena
Mon
8/29
Toronto, ON
Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
Wed
8/31
Detroit, MI
DTE Energy Music Theater
Fri
9/2
Indianapolis, IN
Klipsch Music Center
Sun
9/4
Chicago, IL
Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Wed
9/7
Dallas, TX
Gexa Energy Pavilion
Fri
9/9
Albuquerque, NM
Isleta Ampitheater
Sun
9/11
Salt Lake City, UT
USANA Ampitheater
Tue
9/13
Portland, OR
Sunlight Supply Arena
Thu
9/15
Oakland, CA
Oracle Arena
Sat
9/17
Las Vegas, NV
MGM Grand Garden Arena
Mon
9/19
Hollywood, CA
Hollywood Bowl
Wed
9/21
Phoenix, AZ
AK-Chin Pavilion

Information on tickets, VIP packages and more for the band’s upcoming North American dates is available online now at http://www.Livenation.com. More information on Black Sabbath, its upcoming tour dates, and more is available online now at:

Website: http://www.blacksabbath.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blacksabbath

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.

The End Is Coming…For Black Sabbath

Courtesy:  Republic Records/Live Nation

Courtesy: Republic Records/Live Nation

The end is near. No, not armageddon. Legendary hard rock act Black Sabbath made the announcement today that Black Sabbath will embark on its farewell tour next year.
Black Sabbath–Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Tony Iommi–announced today that it will hit the road next January for its final tour. Audiences can see the announcement for themselves online now via Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYCvRV5ME3w&feature=youtu.be.

Courtesy:  Republic Records/Live Nation

Courtesy: Republic Records/Live Nation

The band’s current schedule sees it opening its tour on January 20th in Omaha, Nebraska and running through February 25th at New York’s famed Madison Square Gardens. From there the band will take some time off to recharge before hitting the road again down under beginning April 15th in Perth, Australia. The band’s current slate of dates is listed below. It is only the current schedule. More dates will be announced next month.

Photo Credit: Mark Weiss

Photo Credit: Mark Weiss

North American Tour Dates
1/20 Omaha, NE CenturyLink Center
1/22 Chicago, IL United Center
1/25 Minneapolis, MN Target Center
1/28 Saskatoon, SK Sasktel Centre
1/30 Edmonton, AB Rexall Centre
2/1 Calgary, ON Scotiabank Saddledome
2/3 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena
2/6 Tacoma, WA Tacoma Dome
2/9 San Jose, CA SAP Center
2/11 Los Angeles, CA The Forum
2/13 Las Vegas, NV Mandalay Bay Events Center
2/15 Denver, CO Pepsi Center
2/17 Kansas City, MO Sprint Center
2/19 Detroit, MI The Palace of Auburn Hills
2/21 Hamilton, ON FirstOntario Centre
2/23 Montreal, QB Bell Centre
2/25 New York City, NY Madison Square Garden
Australia/New Zealand Tour Dates

4/15
Perth
Perth Arena
4/17
Adelaide
Entertainment Centre
4/19
Melbourne
Rod Laver Arena
4/23
Sydney
Allphones Arena
4/25
Brisbane
Entertainment Centre
4/28
Auckland
Vector Arena
4/30
Dunedin
Forsyth Barr Stadium

Fans can get information on tickets, VIP packages, and more for the North American leg of the upcoming tour online now via Live Nation’s official website at http://www.Livenation.com. More information on Black Sabbath’s tour is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.blacksabbath.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blacksabbath

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 Sabbath Live Is 2013’s Last Great Live Recording

Courtesy:  Universal Republic/Vertigo Records

Courtesy: Universal Republic/Vertigo Records

It’s getting ever more expensive to attend a live concert nowadays.  The cost of a pair of tickets alone can run a person well over a hundred dollars.  Factor in the cost of gas, food, souvenirs, and potentially even lodging, and a person can spend quite a bit on just one concert.  The cost of tickets alone is about to go up even more in 2014 for residents of one state thanks to a new tax law that will go into effect in 2014.  Taking all of this into account, it becomes increasingly wise to just pick up a live recording of one’s favorite band, musician, or musical group.  The question is which live releases are well worth the one-time cost for audiences that would rather save some money while enjoying a great concert?  One recommendation is Black Sabbath’s new live Blu-ray and DVD, Black Sabbath Live..Gathered in their Masses.  The first live recording from the band in many years, this live concert recording is one of the best live recordings of 2013. It is so worthwhile first and foremost because of its set list.  The show’s set list more than lives up to the oft-used term, career-spanning.  Just as important to note in this concert is the band’s very performance.  While one band member is noticeably absent, he is replaced quite effectively by another individual.  And his frenetic energy combined with that of the remaining original members exudes something almost magical.  Last but not least important to consider in this concert is the audio and video mix.  Both the audio and video are expertly mixed.  The camera crews take viewers up close with the band throughout the near two-hour concert.  It only adds to that magical sense, completing the overall presentation and making this new recording one that fans both of Black Sabbath and hard rock in general will enjoy time and again.

The term “career-defining” is far too often tossed around for live performances.  Far too many of those recordings are in fact anything but career defining.  In the case of Black Sabbath though, that term is more than deserved.  The band includes nearly every one of the hits that have continued to make it the paramount band that it has remained for decades despite being inactive just as long.  ‘War Pig’s’ opens the show as are the equally beloved ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Black Sabbath.’  It’s all bookended by another massive hit in ‘Paranoid.’  Those that are hoping for something more recent get that, too in the form of ‘Methademic’, ‘End of the Beginning’ and ‘God Is Dead?’  These songs comprise just part of the band’s extensive set list.  There are plenty more songs included in this show that play into its success.  Audiences will each have their favorites when they pick up the new recording for themselves on Blu-ray and DVD.

The set list chosen for this concert is part of the heart of the concert’s success.  Just as important to the success of the recording is the band’s onstage presence.  It’s incredible to think how many years had passed since Ozzy, Geezer, and Tony had performed together under the Black Sabbath moniker.  Drummer Bill Ward was not on hand.  Allegedly there are some hurt feelings between him and his now former band mates for some reason.  That’s not what’s important here, though.  Tommy Clufetos, who records and tours with Ozzy’s own band, handles drum duties on this concert.  And he more than handles his appointed duties, too.  He plays with the same intensity of a young John Bonham.  That’s evident both in the case of his work with the rest of the band and on his solos.  The rest of the band seems to feed off of Clufetos’ energy, too.  That energy is evident throughout the band’s performance, too.  The band may be years older, but they definitely got their audience just as energetic and excited.  Home viewers will feel it, too.  And that’s just one more aspect of this recording that makes it one of the year’s best.

The set list and stage presence of Ozzy and company are both extremely important in the overall enjoyment of Black Sabbath’s new live recording.  There is still one more factor to consider in examining this recording.  That factor is the recording’s combined audio and video mix.  The audio and video mix of any live recording is its foundation.  Far too often, people take this factor for granted.  But there are those recordings that suffer in these areas because of someone that is either inexperienced or simply doesn’t care to do their job the right way. Luckily for Black Sabbath fans, that isn’t the case here.  The video and audio were both expertly mixed.  Even as large as the venue was, the audio is crisp and clear.  The same can be said for the video mix.  It works with the set list and the band’s overall stage show to make Black Sabbath Live…Gathered in Their Masses a recording that is just as worth the money as going to see Black Sabbath live if not more so.  It is available now in stores and online.

More information on Black Sabbath and its tour schedule is available online at http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath and http://www.blacksabbath.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.

Black Sabbath Members To Make Special Appearance At Grammy Museum

Courtesy:  Universal Republic Records

Courtesy: Universal Republic Records

Black Sabbath founding members Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler are set to make a special appearance at the Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum next month.  The special appearance is part of a promotional tour supporting the release of the band’s new live DVD, Black Sabbath Live…Gathered In Their Masses

Ozzy and Geezer will take part in a Q&A session and special early screening of the band’s new live DVD during its appearance.  The whole thing will be held at the museum’s Clive Davis Theater.  During the Q&A session, Ozzy and Geezer will share with fans their thoughts on the band’s reunion, a #1 album in 13 and the band’s hugely successful world tour among other topics.  More information on the event is available online at http://www.grammymuseum.org.

Black Sabbath Live…Gathered In Their Masses will be available on Tuesday, November 25th.  It will be available on DVD, Blu-ray, combo pack, and deluxe box set.  The concert presented in the upcoming release was recorded April 29th and May 1st in Melbourne, Australia as the band kicked off its world tour in support of 13.  The band is currently on the road, touring across South America and Mexico.  Once that leg is done, the band will head overseas to tour Europe in November and December.  A full listing of the band’s current tour dates and more is available online at http://www.blacksabbath.com, http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath, and http://twitter.com/OfficialSabbath.    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 Sabbath Announces Title, Release Date For New Live DVD

Courtesy:  Vertigo/Republic Records

Courtesy: Vertigo/Republic Records

Black Sabbath has officially announced that it will release a brand new live DVD this Fall.  The band, which just finished off the American leg of its worldwide tour, will release its new live DVD, titled Black Sabbath: LiveGathered in their Masses on November 26th,.  It will be released via Vertigo/Republic Records.  The performance contained on the new live DVD was recorded between April 29th and May 1st, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.

Having wrapped up the American leg of its tour, Black Sabbath is set to make its way to South American next.  The South American and Mexican leg of the band’s tour kicks off Friday, October 4th in Santiago, Chile.  After wrapping its South American and Mexican tour, the band is expected to make its way across Europe through November and December.  A full listing of the band’s upcoming tour dates is available online at http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath, http://www.blacksabbath.com, and http://twitter.comOfficialSabbath.

The band’s new release, 13, debuted at #1 in thirteen countries.  That includes the United States.  The album’s #1 debut marks the very first #1 in the U.S.

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, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks.wordpress.com.

Black Sabbath Celebrate New Release With Special Online Event

Courtesy:  Universal Republic Records

Courtesy: Universal Republic Records

Black Sabbath’s decades in the making album, 13 will finally see the light of day tomorrow, Tuesday, June 11th.  In celebration, the band—Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi—will hold a special live Town Hall via Google+ Hangout.  It will be streamed live on Google+ and YouTube.  The Town Hall will also be broadcast live on Ozzy’s Boneyard on SiriusXM at 7:00pm EDT.  The band will be joined by both Ozzy’s son Jack (who directed the clips to launch 13) and Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk (who covered the drums on the album) for the event.  Osbourne and Butler will appear live at the Angel Orensanz Foundation for Contemporary Art while Tony Iommi will appear live from Birmingham, England.  Jack Obsourne and Brad Wilk will be on hand live from Los Angeles for the presentation.  Comedian Jim Norton will host the show.  Norton is a co-host of the Opie and Anthony Show on SiriusXM, and is also a host on Ozzy’s Boneyard.

Viewers can tune in to the special event live on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/officialsabbath.  Fans that have SiriusXM can tune in to the even on Ozzy’s Boneyard on channel 38 and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio app for smart phones and other connected devices.  Audiences can also watch the event online at http://www.siriusxm.com

Black Sabbath fans can keep up with all of the latest from the band online at http://www.blacksabbath.com, http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath, http://twitter.com/OfficialBlackSabbath, http://instagram.com/officialblacksabbath, and http://google.com/+blacksabbath

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.

Sabbath’s “13” Well Worth The Wait

 

Courtesy:  Universal Republic Records

Courtesy: Universal Republic Records

It goes without saying after having listened to it that Black Sabbath’s 13 is one of the best hard rock/metal albums of 2013.  This record has been decades in the making.  And the wait was well worth it, even with someone other than Bill Ward on drums.  Ozzy’s vocals and Tony Iommi’s guitar work are at their peak throughout this record.  So many rock bands have tried hard to emulate Sabbath’s sound since its breakup so long ago.  But few if any have managed to come close since then.  So it is nice to have one of rock’s elite back (even if one member isn’t present) to reclaim its proper place in rock’s upper echelons.

Right from the opening moments of the album’s opener, ‘End of the Beginning’, listeners know they are in for something special on this record.  Geezer’s bass and Tony’s guitar work are pummeling along with Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine) on drums in the song’s opening moments before laying back to let Ozzy’s haunting vocals take the spotlight.  Rick Rubin actually made the right choice bringing in Wilk to cover the drums in place of Bill Ward for this record.  When the rest of the band comes back in, the combined wound will take audiences back to Black Sabbath’s glory days.  Ozzy, Tony, and Geezer show that they are still the originators and have not lost a single step along the way.  It’s like old times.  As Ozzy sings here, “Don’t look back/Live for today/Tomorrow is too late.”  It couldn’t have been better said considering this band’s history.

13 offers listeners plenty of heaviness.  For all the heavy moments, worthy of raising the horns high, it also has a more subdued moment in the song, ‘Zeitgeist.’  This is such an interesting song in that it is a full-on acoustic opus.  In lieu of drums, Wilk has opted instead for perhaps a pair of bongos.  And Tony and Geezer have both gone acoustic, too.  There is something about this combination (along with Ozzy’s vocals) that makes for a work that could easily be compared to the likes Pink Floyd, believe it or not.  It is also the album’s shortest track.  It clocks in at just over four and a half minutes long.  In that short time, it makes for one of the album’s most interesting moments.

If any one song on this new album stands out more than the others, it is ‘Live Forever.’  This is the second shortest song on the record.  It comes in at just under five minutes long.  It’s also one of the album’s heaviest numbers.  Yet again, it’s more proof that Ozzy and company haven’t lost any steam in the three decades plus since the band’s last album.  Of course, having mega-producer Rick Rubin manning the boards doesn’t hurt, either.  Rubin really brought out the best of the band on this track.  Tony’s guitar solos are incredible to say the least.  They are the sort of solos that will have young guitarists around the world trying to emulate him, putting their own takes on his work on YouTube.  And yet again, Brad Wilk is just as impressive behind the kit.  He shows here, and throughout the record just how versatile he is as a drummer, pounding out some impressive polyrhythmic patters without missing a second.  And Ozzy sounds more in control of his vocals here than anywhere else on the album.  That isn’t to say that he sounds bad anywhere else.  The way that Ozzy laments in this song, “I don’t mind dying/Cause I’m already dead/Pray not for the living/I live in your head/Dying is easy/It’s living that’s hard/I’m losing the battle/Between Satan and God” could so easily be interpreted in direct relation to everything that Ozzy has gone through in recent years.  Considering recent reports concerning his admission to having been addicted to certain substances over recent years, instead of staying clean, it sounds like a personal statement that he perhaps felt during that time.  If so, it’s a powerful statement, especially with the song’s musical backing.  Though interestingly enough, the rest of the song sounds like a tongue in cheek stab at the religious establishment, considering Ozzy is actually anything but the “Prince of Darkness” that he has been made out to be.

‘Live Forever’ is one of the best of the best on Black Sabbath’s new album, 13.  It musical side and lyrical side together make it quite the interesting track.  Though, it’s just one of eight total tracks on the band’s new album that any long-time Black Sabbath fan will enjoy.  There are seven other tracks on this disc that any true metal and hard rock purist from which they can choose as their favorite.  The album will be available in stores and online June 11th via Republic Records.  The band will tour in support of the album beginning July 25th in The Woodlands, Texas.  Fans can keep up with the band’s tour dates and more on its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath and on its official website, http://www.blacksabbath.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.