‘Rock Believer’ Will Keep Audiences Believing In Scorpions

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records/Vertigo Records/UMe

A wait of more than seven years for new music from Scorpions officially ended Friday when the band released its new album, Rock Believer.  Released through Spinefarm Records and Vertigo Records (a subsidiary of Universal Music Group), the 16-song record is a presentation that the band’s established audiences and rock fans in general will agree is a mostly successful new offering from the band.  That is due in part to the album’s featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The album’s lyrical content adds to the album’s interest in its own way and will be discussed a little later.  The production rounds out the album’s most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Rock Believer a record that will keep audiences believing in Scorpions.

Rock Believer, the 19th (yes, 19th) new album from veteran rock act Scorpions, is a presentation that audiences will agree is mostly successful.  That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are of note because for the most part, they continue to present the hard rock sound that first made the band a hit back in the 80s.  At the same time, the stylistic approach that the band took in each arrangement also clearly exhibits the band’s ability to evolve with the times while still staying true to its musical roots.  Case in point is the arrangement featured in the late entry, ‘Shoot For Your Heart.’  The production, which will be discussed later, comes fully into play here.  The band’s 80s rock sensibility is here.  That is fully evident.  At the same time, there is a certain edge to the arrangement that fits just as well into today’s rock community as it would into the scene back in the 80s.  It makes for its own interesting presentation.

On another hand, the blues-based rock sound of the album’s opener, ‘Gas in the Tank’ is another example of that ability of the band to so expertly balance elements of old and new.  The choruses in this song and even portions of the verses display plenty of classic rock sounds.  At the same time, the aforementioned edge that the band incorporated into so much of the album is just as much on display here.  It ensures the song (and album) will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  In turn, it keeps the band just as relevant today as it was in its early days.

‘Peacemaker,’ the album’s lead single, is yet another example of how the band has continued to evolve while maintaining its identity.  The hard rock approach taken here (which is very bass heavy) would fit perfectly into any modern, active rock radio programmer’s play list.  The heaviness and related depth to the instrumentation and its sound shows the band can still hold its own alongside any of today’s veteran and young, new acts.  When it is considered along with the other arrangements examined here and with the rest of the album’s arrangements, the whole of that content shows fully why this album’s musical arrangements make it worth hearing.  They are just part of what makes the record successful.  The album’s lyrical content makes for its own share of interest.

The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical content are important because of their accessibility.  From start to end, the album’s lyrical content touches on a wide range of topics, all of which will find appeal.  Right from the album’s outset, the band presents a positive message that perhaps is reflective of the uncertainty that the band went through following the release of its then latest album, Return to Forever, and the tour that followed.  The clear declaration in the song’s chorus, “Let’s play it louder/Play it hard/Laid back and a little dark/Give me a dirty riff, my friend/There’s gotta be more gas in the tank” does well to lead to such inference.  The additional mentions of hammer riffs and that “best friends will never part” continues to infer the noted theme.  It all collectively comes across as a first statement to audiences that even with what it went through after celebrating its 50th anniversary, is still going strong.  On a deeper level, that overt sense of determination inferred through this content could encourage others who might be going through tough times to push on through in their own situations.  To that end, it makes this song just one example of what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to the record’s presentation.

‘Call Of The Wild’ is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  In the case of this song, it is sung from the standpoint of a man trying to get a woman to stay with him.  This is clear right from the song’s outset as the lead verse states, “Hear the call of the wild, girl/I wanna spend the night, yeah/Right by your side.”  The attempt to win the woman over continues later in the statement, “Getting lost in the jungle, babe/In the shade of the night/You’ve got the funky rhythm, girl/I’ve got the rocking drive.”  It is pretty obvious what is happening here.  The man is trying to tell the woman how well they “move” together.  This is more of that attempt to flirt so to speak and get her to stay with him.  The bluesy approach taken to the song’s musical arrangement adds even more to the engagement that these lyrics (and the topic) ensure.  Overall, it is one more example of why the record’s lyrical content is so important to the album’s presentation.

‘When Tomorrow Comes’ is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.  In the case of this song, the band has opted to go socially conscious.  This is made clear as front man Klaus Meine states in his spoken word style approach, “Good morning, world/How do you feel/Sometimes I think you’re gonna stop turning ‘round/Who’s to blame but us/When half the planet caught on fire/And one more spark seems enough/To burn it down/Good morning, world/How do you feel/You look so sad/The clock is ticking/And precious time will fade away/Oh, the cyber war/A dirty ocean/The climate change/When tomorrow comes/We’ll pay the price.”  The song’s chorus adds even more to the clarity in the message as Meine and his band mates sing, “See the writing on the wall (The future calls)/Can I trust fate anymore (The world is yours)/Young is old and old is young (You are the ones)/Call me when tomorrow comes (When tomorrow comes).”  This is a familiar way to address a familiar topic.  In other words, it is fully accessible and shows even more, the diversity in the album’s lyrical content.  It also shows the depth of the record’s lyrical content.  When this is considered along with the themes in the other songs examined here and with that of the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes clear, the importance of the album’s lyrical content. 

The musical and lyrical content that makes up the body of Rock Believer obviously does plenty to make the album worth hearing.  They are just part of what makes the album successful.  The album’s production puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  The production is important to note because of its impact on the album’s general effect.  From start to end, the production ensures that no one part of the songs’ instrumentations overpowers the others.  At the same time, it ensures that the band’s ability to balance its vintage rock sound with more modern influences cuts through just as clearly.  What’s more, the vocals are just as well balanced with the instrumentations, topping off the positive impact of the production.  All things considered here, the album’s production does just as much to make it engaging and entertaining as the album’s content.  To that end, all of the album’s noted elements make it an easy candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock albums so far this year.

Rock Believer, the latest album from Scorpions, is a positive new offering from the veteran rock band.  That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements continue to exhibit the band’s familiar vintage 80s hard rock leanings while also displaying the band’s ability to evolve and adapt to the current rock scene without losing anything in either end along the way.  The lyrical themes featured throughout the album add their own appeal to the presentation.  That is because of their diversity and accessibility.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to the presentation, ensuring its general effect is just as positive as its content.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Rock Believer a record in which Scorpions’ established audiences and rock fans in general will believe.

Rock Believer is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of Scorpions’ latest news at:

Website: https://the-scorpions.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/scorpions

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

Styx’s Record Store Day EP Now Available Through All Digital Outlets

Courtesy: UMe

Styx is revisiting its latest EP.

The band has released its recent Record Store Day release, The Same Stardust to all digital outlets. The band released the EP June 12 as part of Record Store Day’s celebration. The EP featured two new songs from the band — ‘The Same Stardust’ and ‘Age of Entropia’ — and five live performances previously recorded during the band’s “Styx Fix” livestreams on a 180-gram 12-inch vinyl pressing.

The EP was released ahead of the band’s latest album, Crash of the Crown.

In related news, Styx is in the midst of a tour in support of Crash of the Crown. The band’s tour schedule is noted below.

DATE               CITY                             VENUE

Fri 9/17             Murphys, CA                 Ironstone Amphitheatre (with REO Speedwagon)

Sat 9/18            Rancho Mirage, CA       Agua Caliente Casino

Tue 9/21           Wenatchee, WA            Town Toyota Center

Wed 9/22          Puyallup, WA                Washington State Fair (with REO Speedwagon)

Fri 9/24             Las Vegas, NV              The Venetian Theatre

Sat 9/25            Las Vegas, NV              The Venetian Theatre

Sun 9/26           Las Vegas, NV              The Venetian Theatre

Fri 10/1             Atlantic City, NJ             Tropicana Atlantic City

Sat 10/2            Waterloo, NY                The Vine at Del Lago

Sun 10/3           West Springfield, MA     The Big E Arena

Fri 10/15           Lake Charles, LA           Golden Nugget

Sat 10/16          Arlington, TX                 The Levitt Pavilion Arlington

Sun 10/17         Lubbock, TX                 Buddy Holly Hall

Thu 10/21         Amarillo, TX                  Amarillo Civic Center

Fri 10/22           Wichita Falls, TX           Memorial Auditorium

Sat 10/23          Austin, TX                     Nutty Brown Amphitheatre

Sun 10/24         Helotes, TX                   John T. Moore’s County Store

Fri 11/5             New Buffalo, MI            Four Winds Casino

Thu 11/11         Tulsa, OK                     River Spirit Casino

Fri 11/12           Durant, OK                    Choctaw Grand Theatre

Sat 11/13          Newkirk, OK                  First Council Casino inside Council Bluffs Event Center

Wed 11/17        Sioux Falls, SD             Washington Pavilion

Thu 11/18         Ralston, NE                  Ralston Arena

Fri 11/19           Salina, KS                     Stiefel Theatre

More information on the digital release of The Same Stardust is available along with all of the band’s latest news and ticket information at:

Websitehttps://styxworld.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/styxtheband

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/STYXtheband

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

Styx Launches New Beer Line

Courtesy: Voodoo Brewing Company/ABC PR

Styx is getting into the alcohol business.

The band announced Monday through a news release, it has partnered with Voodoo Brewing Company to launch a new lager brand called “Oh Mama.” The traditional golden American lager is available as a four-pack of 16-oz. cans and as 50-liter kegs.

Front man Tommy Shaw said of the lager’s availability, “Hello Friends! We are excited to announce that STYX, in partnership with Voodoo Brewing Co., is bringing our Oh Mama beer to a frosty mug near you.  We think you’re gonna love it as much as we do. Cheers!!!”

The new lager is available through Voodoo Brewing Company’s corporate pubs and franchised locations. It is also available online for home delivery exclusively in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Consumers in other states and in the greater Erie, PA and Pittsburgh, PA regions can use the Tavour app to order the new alcohol line.

The announcement of Styx’s new lager line comes months after the band released its latest album, Crash of the Crown.

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

Websitehttps://styxworld.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/styxtheband

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/STYXtheband

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

The Appeal For Styx’s New Album Will Not Collapse At Any Point

Courtesy: UMe

A wait of more than four years for new music from Styx officially came to an end last month when the band released its latest album, Crash of the Crown.  The 15-song album is the band’s 17th.  Now audiences can hear some of the music from the album live as the band has launched a tour in support of the record.  The tour features a stop Aug. 11 in Durham, North Carolina at the famed Durham Performing Arts Center.  The facility is one of so many shut down for the past year-plus as a result of the impact of the COVID-19, so this early entry in the center’s series is a big deal for fans in North Carolina.  To the same extent, Styx’s new album is its own big deal.  It is a record that continues to show why the band remains such a respected name in the rock (and music) community.  That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes featured alongside the record’s musical arrangements add their own appeal to the album.  They will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the album a work that will appeal not just to the band’s fans, but to rock fans in general.  Those fans in North Carolina will enjoy hearing much of the album next month, too when Styx comes to town at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Styx’s new album, Crash of the Crown is a strong new entry from the veteran rock band.  The record’s success is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are important to note because of the approach that the band took to them.  The band’s familiar classic rock leanings are audible throughout the course of the record’s 43-minute run time.  At the same time, audiences also get quite a bit of prog-influence throughout the album alongside that classic rock sound.  The balance of the two genres is solid throughout the record, making for plenty of appeal in its own right.  Speaking specifically, the use of the keyboards, vocals, and guitars, makes the record’s arrangements comparable to works from the likes of Transatlantic, Spock’s Beard, and the Neal Morse Band.  Even with that in mind, it should be pointed out that while the comparisons are inescapable, the songs still boast their own identity from one to the next.  That ability of the band to create arrangements whose sounds and stylistic approaches are so familiar but still their own is just part of what makes the album work.  Its lyrical themes add their own appeal to its presentation.

The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements are important to note because they are just as accessible as the album’s musical content.  From one song to the next, the themes are essentially commentaries on various topics.  They are also delivered in fashions that make it easy to understand them.  Case in point is the lyrical theme featured in ‘Common Ground.’  Simply put, this song is a call to unity.  It starts out sounding like an all too familiar piece about relationships as it states, “It was just a fleeting moment, on a long lost night/We both were so determined that our way was right/Now the days of our confusion have no end in sight/Can we ever find our way back/From that long lost night?/ Once, we all believed/When we were young/That our dreams could rise/Were those all lies?/But it’s just so hard to see/Through each other’s eyes/ It was just a fleeting moment/Did our dreams take flight?/Can we ever find our way back/From the long lost night?”  However, the chorus counters that interpretation as it comes right out and states, “When we get together on common ground/Then no one will ever come and take us down.”  Here is a clear statement of unity, telling people they need to…well…come together.  It is a theme that is anything but new in this case, but is just as welcome as in any other act’s songs.  It is a theme that will always be relevant.

On another note, ‘Save Us From Ourselves’ is another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.  In the case of this song, the theme comes across as a commentary about the state of the world.  This is clearly inferred in the song’s lead verse, which states, “It was the same day in another time/I felt your pain and you felt mine/And all that we tried and all of our tricks/Still couldn’t help what couldn’t be fixed/Who’s gonna save us from ourselves this time?”  The song’s chorus continues that message, stating, “One nation, indivisible/Heads in the sand/’Ccause we weren’t invisible/Say your prayers/We could all use a miracle now/To save us from ourselves.”  The song’s second verse continues in similar fashion, making mention of the “Demonstrations/appropriations/More frustrations/Tugging at your sleeve/Peace and love still has the power/Don’t wait until your final hour to believe/I said/With all that we’ve tried/And all of our tricks/Still could not help/What couldn’t be fixed/Can anyone save us from ourselves this time?”  Once more, this is a familiar indictment of everything going on and the people causing it all.  It is yet another familiar theme and even being so familiar, is just as welcome here as in any other case.

The whole thing closes out with yet another familiar lyrical theme in ‘Stream.’  This song delivers a message of hope even with all of the negativity swirling around the world.  That is made clear right from the song’s outset with the lines, “Strangers leaving footprints in the snow/The day is coming and everybody knows/Pressure’s building/Something’s gonna blow/The sun is rising/The rooster’s gonna crow.”  That final statement about the sun and rooster hints at the old adage that it’s always darkest before the dawn.  It continues, “Please don’t wake me from this sweet dream/Floating on a stream/Sunshine beaming down on my face/Staring into space.”  This is someone who is lost in positive thought.  It is a reminder to listeners that things can and will get better, even as bad as they have been and are.  It is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.  What’s more, considering its placement in the album, it also plays into the last of the record’s most important elements, its sequencing.

As noted in the songs addressed here, there is a lot of familiar commentary on some very hot button topics.  They are addressed throughout the course of the album before audiences are finally reminded at the record’s end that there is a light and that things will get better.  This shows a deliberate approach to the songs’ sequencing in regards to their lyrical content.  The sequencing also takes the songs’ musical arrangements into full account.  As noted already, this album is composed of 15 songs that span interestingly only 43 minutes.  Considering the number of songs, that number would normally account for a much longer run time for most records.  So to have such a relatively manageable run time across that many songs is interesting.  When audiences listen to the songs, the shortest being approximately 38-seconds and the longest clocking in at exactly four minutes, that run time becomes more understandable.  What’s more, the energy in each arrangement ensures listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment.  That stability in the songs’ energies and the standard run times among the songs is really what accounts for the relatively short, but not too brief run time.  It makes the album that much more appealing being that it shows such thought that went into the sequencing in this case, too.  All things considered, the sequencing shows in its own way, it is just as important to the success of Crash of the Crown as the album’s musical and lyrical content.  When all three elements are considered together, they make this album another positive offering from Styx the continues to show why this band remains one of rock’s elite acts.

Styx’s recently released album, Crash of the Crown, is a presentation that will appeal widely among the band’s established audiences and to more casual listeners.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements expertly balance the band’s familiar classic rock leanings with a distinct prog influence to make them unique and appealing in their own right.  The album’s lyrical themes are also important to its presentation because of their familiarity and accessibility.  The sequencing of that content puts the final touch to the album’s presentation.  That is because it takes everything into account with the album’s content.  It ensures that content is placed properly to ensure the album flows solidly from one song to the next.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the album a positive new offering from one of rock’s elite acts.  Crash of the Crown is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: https://styxworld.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/STYXtheband

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

Eagle Rock, UMe’s New Lynyrd Skynyrd Live Recording Is A Must For The Band’s Fans, Even With Its One Concern

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/UMe

When Lynyrd Skynyrd released its debut live recording, One More from the Road in September 1976, no one knew that it would go on to be the only live recording from the band (at the time) featuring the group’s original lineup.  More than a year after the recording’s release, on Oct. 20, 1977, a plane crash claimed the lives of then front man Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines (who was Steve Gaines’ sister).  The crash happened during the band’s tour in support of One More from The Road and ironically, only days after the band released what would be its fifth album, Street Survivors.  After the tragedy of that incident, more than a decade would pass before the band reformed with a new lineup and album.  More than three decades would pass before any other live recording featuring the band’s original lineup would see  the light of day in 2009’s Authorized Bootleg: Lynyrd Skynyrd Live: Cardiff   Capitol Theater and Authorized Bootleg: Live at WinterlandSan Francisco Mar 07, 1976.  Every live recording that followed (and those in between) have all featured the band’s post crash lineup.  Now Friday, Eagle Rock Entertainment and UMe will release another rare fully official recording featuring the band’s original lineup in the form of Live at Knebworth ’76.  The concert captured in this rare recording took place Aug. 21, 1976 at the Knebworth as part of the day-long festival headlined by none other than The Rolling Stones.  This is an important piece of information about the concert.  It plays directly into the recording’s presentation and will be discussed later.  The most important of the recording’s elements is its set list, which will be discussed shortly.  For all that this concert offers audiences to appreciate, it is an imperfect presentation.  That is due to one key limitation, which will be discussed a little later.  Even keeping that one negative in mind, it is not enough to make the recording a failure.  Keeping this in mind, the recording proves for the most part, to be a work that most Lynyrd Synyrd fans will appreciate.

Very few official recordings featuring live performances of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s original lineup have ever seen the light of day over the decades.  In all, only three of those recordings have ever been released.  That is saying a lot.  Now Friday, what will be only the fourth ever live recording featuring the band’s original lineup will be released in the form of Live at Knebworth ’76.  This 11-song recording is a mostly successful presentation, too.  Part of the recording’s success comes through its set list.  The set list pulls from all of its then four studio recordings, and even from its debut live recording, One More from the Road.  What is truly interesting to note is just how balanced the set list is.  The band’s 1973 debut album Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd receives three nods as does its follow-up, Second HelpingThat record’s follow-up, 1975’s Nuthin’ Fancy, was represented with two songs while the band’s then latest album, 1976’s Gimme Back My Bullets is represented by one song.  One More from the Road got two nods here.  Simply put, it is easy to say that this rare live recording’s set list was at the time, career-defining.  Adding to the interest here is that research into the band’s tour in support of One More from the Road, compared to this concert’s set list, mostly lines up.  Comparisons show that the majority of the songs most commonly played by the band during its tour at the time are featured here.  There is some variance between the band’s average set list from the tour and this concert’s set list, but for the most part, audiences got the set list presented in most of the band’s shows.  To that end, the set list featured in this presented concert forms a solid foundation for the recording’s presentation.  Now,  for all that the concert’s set list does to establish appeal for the overall presentation, the recording does suffer from one negative.  That negative comes from the limitation of the availability of the authorized Lynyrd Skynyrd biography, If I Leave Here Tomorrow.  The last time this documentary was released was in 2018.  The 97-minute documentary recounts Ronnie Van Zant’s upbringing, how that played into his song writing, and the band members’ relationships.  It is itself a rarity, being that it is so difficult to find at any of America’s major retailers.  In the case of its presentation here, it is made available as part of the recording’s Blu-ray/CD platform, but not its separate DVD/CD platform.  Who made such a decision and why is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, that limitation means that audiences who want to watch the documentary will either have to buy the Blu-ray player and HDMI cable, and Blu-ray/CD package (if they do not already own said product) or just try to find it streaming online.  It really is a disservice to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s fans that the documentary would be so limited in its availability.  Of course in defense of Eagle Rock and UMe, maybe not everyone is such a devotee and some people care more about the concert.  To that end, that limited availability is not enough to make this recording a failure.  Regardless, again, it is still a concern that audiences cannot ignore.

Going back to the topic of the concert and those audiences who perhaps prefer that more than the documentary, they and all other audiences receive in the concert, quite the presentation. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s performance here is considered by critics and fans alike to be a defining moment for the band.  That is even considering that it was hardly the band’s first ever performance outside the United States.  The band played Europe well before the tour that included its Knebworth show.  There really is something special in this performance.  The band keeps the energy high throughout the course of the 66-minute (one hour, six minutes) concert, wasting little time between songs with any amount of talking.  Rather, the band allowed its performance to talk.  In all honesty, the performance moves so fluidly that audiences are left feeling like it has reached its midpoint and even finale before they realize it.  That is meant in the most complimentary fashion possible.  It means that the band uses its songs and performances to make audiences completely forget about the time and just enjoy the show.

One big part of what makes that full immersion happen is the collective performance of drummer Artemis Pyle, guitarists Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and Steve Gaines, and bassist Leon Wilkerson.  The quartet’s talent is on full display throughout the show.  The manic energy from the group throughout is so powerful as it pulls in audiences.  Meanwhile, Van Zant’s own eclectic performance made for its own interest.  His general lack of real emotion and motion throughout the show made for quite the contrast to the power in his vocals.  Those moments in which he just stands there on stage as his band mates play their solos immerses audiences even more.  That is because it makes audiences want to know what is going on in his mind.  That mystery in itself makes for so much interest in his performance.

The audience’s reaction to this overall performance will engage and entertain home viewers just as much as the band’s performance.  Some of those in attendance at the concert were decked out in Rolling Stones apparel – The Rolling Stones headlined the Knebworth show, but most critics agree Lynyrd Skynyrd even outperformed them, which speaks volumes — dancing just as energetically in time with the music.  It clearly shows the band’s popularity at that early point in its life.  Even in the more contemplative opening minutes of ‘Freebird’ audiences remained just as engaged, the camera at times showing the almost intense focus and attention from the audience as the band performed.  At yet other points, the cameras capture a Confederate flag waving in the air as the band performed.  This was not a flag that the band had in the crowd, either.  It was brought by the audience.  As a reminder, this was a show in England.  It made the moment one of the weirdest moments in live music history, even as simple as it was.  Yet at the same time, it shows the reach of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s appeal at that point in time. Between the interest that it creates and that generated through the rest of the audience reaction and through the band’s performance, the whole of that interaction makes clear why the actual recording featured in this package proves so important and enjoyable.  When the appeal generated through the interaction between the band and audience is considered along with the recording’s equally rich set list, those elements make this recording a presentation that will appeal to any Lynyrd Synyrd fan.  That is even with the one negative concerning the documentary’s limited availability in mind.

Eagle Rock Entertainment and UMe’s forthcoming presentation of Lynyrd Skynyrd: Live at Knebworth ’76 is a presentation that audiences will agree is a mostly successful presentation, especially being such a rare presentation.  The recording’s success comes in part from its set list.  The show’s set list is a presentation in itself that was at the time of the concert, career-defining.  It pulled from all of the band’s studio recordings at the time and from its debut live recording.  That live recording and this latest are technically the only two fully official live recordings featuring the band’s original lineup.  Two “official bootlegs” were released in 2009 by Geffen Records, but are again, “bootlegs,” so considering this along with the career-defining set list in this recording, the set list gains even more importance.  While the set list is undeniably important to the recording’s presentation, the limitation on the availability of the companion authorized documentary detracts from the recording’s appeal to a point.  Luckily its negative impact is not enough to make the recording a failure, though it cannot be ignored, regardless. Moving on from there, the band’s performance and the audience’s reaction to that performance pairs with the set list to make the recording all the more enjoyable.  That performance leaves no doubt about critics’ statements that the band outplayed The Rolling Stones, who were stars in their own right at that point.  All things considered here, Lynyrd Skynyrd: Live at Knebworth ’76 proves itself a presentation that is for the most part, a successful new offering from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eagle Rock Entertainment, and UMe.

Pre-orders for Live at Knebworth ’76 are open. A trailer for the concert is streaming here.

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

Websitehttps://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

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.

Styx Announces ‘The Mission’ Re-Issue, Tommy Shaw Live Release Dates

Styx has a bunch of news for its fans this summer.

The band is currently on the road on a co-headlining tour with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.  The tour includes a stop in North Carolina’s capitol city, Raleigh next week at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek.  Fellow veteran rock act Tesla is also on the bill as support.  Tickets for that show are available now here.

Courtesy: UMe

Styx’s latest tour run is in support of its latest album, The Mission, which was released June 16, 2017 via UMe.  This summer, the band will have two more reasons for its tour as it re-issues The Mission and as vocalist Tommy Shaw prepares to release his new album.

The Mission is currently scheduled to be re-issued July 27 via Alpha Dog 2T/UMe.  The new re-issue is expected to include a bonus DVD with bonus videos, “making of’ documentary interviews with Tommy Shaw and producer Will Evankovich, music videos for ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ and ‘Radio Silence,’ and three hi-res playback modes and more.  Pre-orders are open now.

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

On June 29, Shaw will release his new live recording Sing For The Day via Eagle Rock Entertainment.  Shaw was joined by the Contemporary Youth Orchestra for the 13-song performance.  Originally recorded in 2016 at the Waetjen Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohhio, the concert — which will be available on CD, Blu-ray and digital platforms — features unique takes on classic Styx and Tommy Shaw songs such as ‘Blue Collar Man,’ ‘Girls With Guns,’ and ‘Too Much Time on My Hands.’

Along with presenting some familiar songs in a new format, the concert also marks the 10th anniversary of Styx’s original 2006 performance with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra.  That performance was captured in the band’s live recording One With EverythingSing For The Day!‘s set list is noted below.  Pre-orders are open now.

SING FOR THE DAY! Track Listing:
1. Overture
2. Girls With Guns
3. Too Much Time On My Hands
4. Fooling Yourself
5. Diamond
6. Crystal Ball
7. Boat On The River
8. Sing For The Day
9. Renegade
10. Man In The Wilderness
11. Come Again
12. High Enough
13. Blue Collar Man
Blu-ray Bonus songs:
Down That Highway
The Great Divide
I’ll Be Coming Home
The Night Goes On

Along with the noted releases, AXS TV will present on June 30, a “Saturday Styx Lineup.”  The broadcast, which starts at 1 p.m. ET, will feature conversations and classic Styx performances.  Shaw and band mates Jame “Jy” Young and Lawrence Gowan will sit down with legendary news man Dan Rather to talk about the band’s history, the writing process an more in “The Big Interview.”

The celebration continues at 2 p.m. as the band joins none other than Sammy Hagar (ex-Van Halen, Chickenfoot, ex-Ronnie Montrose) for a special session backstage at The Venetian in Las Vegas on “Rock and Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar.”

At 2:30, AXS TV will air the band’s 2015 recording Live at the Orleans Arena Las Vegas.  The 18-song set was originally recorded during a performance by the band at said venue in 2014 during its “Soundtrack of Summer” tour.  The recording was released in stores and online September 2, 2016 via Eagle Rock Entertainment.

Shaw’s previously noted upcoming performance with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra continues the network’s afternoon-long schedule at 3 p.m. ET.  It all starts over at 5 p.m. ET.

More information on Styx’s forthcoming recordings, its AXS TV schedule, its latest news and more is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.styxworld.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/styxtheband

 

More information on Shaw’s new live recording 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.

Styx Announces New Album Coming Soon; Debuts Album’s Lead Single, Video

Courtesy: Alpha Dog 2T/UMe

Styx has a new “mission” in 2017.

The veteran rock act announced this week that it will release its new album The Mission June 16 on CD, vinyl and digital platforms.  The album, which will be released via Alpha Dog 2T/UMe, will be the band’s first new album in 14 years and its 16th overall studio recording.  Audiences can pre-order The Mission online via various online outlets here now.

The album’s lead single ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ was released Friday at radio and online retail outlets.  The song’s video is streaming online now and can be viewed here.  The song’s high-energy, guitar-driven arrangement will appeal to fans of Foghat and other similar acts with its blues-rock-based sound.

Courtesy: Billboard Magazine/Alpha Dog 2T/UMe

The Mission comes forty years after the release of Grand Illusion and is also a concept record.  Recorded over the course of two years, the 43-minute record tells a fictionalized story of the first manned mission to Mars in the year 2033.

According to the story’s premise, the six-person crew of the nuclear-powered interplanetary spacecraft Khedive, being launched by the Global Space Exploration Program (GSEP) is making its maiden voyage and headed to Mars.

The team consists of the pilot, first officer, engineer and three science experts.  The pilot is described as a “fully-hands-on, seat-of-the-pants born leader,” while the first officer is described as a big brother figure.  The engineer is described as being skeptical of the mission but still does his best.

The band’s lineup on The Mission features Tommy Shaw (vocals/guitar), co-founder James “JY” Young (guitar/vocals), Lawrence Gowan (keyboards/vocals), Chuck Panozzo (bass), Todd Sucherman (drums/percussion) and Ricky Phillips (bass).

The Mission’s track listing is noted below.

Here’s the track listing for THE MISSION:

CD/Digital:

  1. Overture
  2. Gone Gone Gone
  3. Hundred Million Miles from Home
  4. Trouble at the Big Show
  5. Locomotive
  6. Radio Silence
  7. The Greater Good
  8. Time May Bend
  9. Ten Thousand Ways to Be Wrong
  10. Red Storm
  11. All Systems Stable
  12. Khedive
  13. The Outpost
  14. Mission to Mars

Vinyl:

  1. Overture (Side A)
  2. Gone Gone Gone (Side A)
  3. Hundred Million Miles from Home (Side A)
  4. Trouble at the Big Show (Side A)
  5. Locomotive (Side A)
  6. Radio Silence (Side A)
  7. The Greater Good (Side B)
  8. Time May Bend (Side B)
  9. Ten Thousand Ways to Be Wrong (Side B)
  10. Red Storm (Side B)
  11. All Systems Stable (Side B)
  12. Khedive (Side B)
  13. The Outpost (Side B)
  14. Mission to Mars (Side B)

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

 

 

 

Website: http://www.styxworld.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/styxtheband

 

 

 

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.

Temple Of The Dog Reunites; Announces Tour, LP Re-Issue

Courtesy: UMe

Courtesy: UMe

Temple of the Dog is officially returning.

The rock super group—Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Mike McCready, and Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam)—announced this week that it has reunited and will tour together for the first time ever.  The group also announced that it will re-issue its self-titled 1991 record this fall to mark the 25th anniversary of its release.  The album will be re-issued Friday, September 30th via UMe.  It will be available in four different formats—four-disc Super Deluxe Edition, double LP vinyl, two-disc Deluxe Edition CD set, and standard single-disc platform.  Pre-orders for physicals are open now.  They can be placed here.  Each pre-order includes a detailed list of the contents of each presentation.

The band’s tour launches November 4th and currently spans only five cities—Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle—winding down on November 20th.  Pre-sale tickets are  currently open for fans signed up with Pearl Jam’s official fan club, Ten Club, and to the e-mail lists of Soundgarden and Chris Cornell.  Fan pre-sales end next Wednesday, July 27th.  General public ticket sales begin at 12pm local time next Friday, July 29th.  $1.50 from each ticket sold will benefit the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation.  An additional $1.50 from each ticket sold will benefit Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation.

Temple of the Dog originally rose from the remnants of Mother Love Bone.  That band ended after then front man Andrew Wood died from a drug overdose.  Wood was, coincidentally, Cornell’s room mate and close friend.  After Wood’s passing Cornell went on to write the songs ‘Say Hello 2 Heaven’ and ‘Reach Down’ in order to process his grief.  Those songs would also go on to be included in Temple of the Dog’s sole album.  Eventually Gossard and Ament, two of the original members of Mother Love Bone, added Mike McCready to the band’s lineup, who was then followed by Cameron on drums.  The resultant album, according to TOTD’s members, was originally not meant for commercial release.  As Cornell recalls of the album, “Temple was about making an album simply for the joy of doing it. We weren’t concerned what anyone outside of our group of friends would think of it. It was the first and maybe only stress-free album that we all made.”  When the band crafted ‘Hunger Strike’ Cornell felt that the song needed a duet.  Enter Eddie Vedder, who would eventually go on to front Pearl Jam.  The song would go on to be the band’s biggest hit and would peak at #4 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart.

Temple of the Dog did have a very limited number of shows in November and December of 1990.  The band’s upcoming shows this fall mark the first time since those shows that the band has ever toured together.  There was a performance in 2015 in which Cornell joined his former TOTD band mates for a performance of ‘Reach Down’ and ‘Call Me A Dog’ at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall.  In 2014 Cornell also joined the band for a performance at the Bridge School show and for two nights at PJ20 in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin.  More information on Temple of the Dog’s upcoming concerts and album re-issue is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at http://www.facebook.com/TempleofTheDog.

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.

Ume’s Latest LP Is One Of 2014’s Most Intriguing New Records

Courtesy:  Dangerbird Records

Courtesy: Dangerbird Records

Monuments, the new album from Ume, is one of the more intriguing records that has been released so far in 2014.  The Austin, TX-based band’s third full length studio release is such an interesting listen because at no point over the course of its dozen total songs does it ever allow itself to be fully pigeonholed into one specific subset of the rock world or another.  At one point, it bears something of a semi-stoner rock influence, while at others its sound is more indie-rock.  Add in the hybrid Joan Jett/Courtney Love style vocals of singer Lauren LL throughout the album, and listeners get in Monuments a record that is well worth at least one listen.

The album’s aforementioned semi-stoner rock influence is obvious right off the top in the album’s opener, ‘Black Stone.’  Langner Larson and her band mates—Rachel Fuhrer (drums) and Eric Larson (bass)—waste no time getting into listeners’ heads with their collective talent in this song.  Lauren LL’s song-opening guitar line is a standard mid-tempo rock riff that is certain to get any listener playing along on their own air guitar both in their bedrooms and cars.  Fuhrer and Eric Larson add just enough of their own heaviness to the song to have said listeners proudly putting their horns in the air at the same time.  Lyrically speaking, Langner Larson’s words are somewhat cryptic.  She sings in the song’s final verse, You never see/The cries of another/Never did see/The wars till the rubble/Crumbled on/You and me/The damage done/Battles are not/Ever won/Never won.”  Is it bad that Larson leaves her lyrics up to interpretation?  No.  That openness to interpretation set alongside the song’s equally engaging musical side makes ‘Black Stone’ a fitting feeling for what fans can expect throughout the rest of this record.

The energy and power established by the members of Ume in ‘Black Stone’ doesn’t stop with that song.  If anything, it’s stepped up even more as the album progresses.  This is evidenced in the song ‘Chase It Down.’  Again, the song’s seemingly metaphorical lyrics are left widely to interpretation.  The most common sense interpretation is that this is a song of self-empowerment of sorts.  Langner Larson asks her subject in the song’s chorus, “Are you the one they forget/Are you the one they love to neglect/Are you the one alone at last/Are you the one who won’t beg for it?”  She follows that up by telling said subject, “Chase it down/In this skin.”  One can’t help but wonder whom she is addressing here.  That is irrelevant here though.  She could be addressing anyone.  That being understood, it makes the frantic energy exuded by the band in this piece all the harder hitting, especially in the buildup to the song’s climactic finale.  It will all leave listeners breathless by the time that energy explodes in those final moments.

For all of the frenetic energy exuded throughout the course of Monuments, it does actually have its softer moments.  ‘Gleam’ is one of those moments.  Langner Larson shows real control over her vocals throughout the song even when it picks up about a minute and a half in.  That gentility in her vocals is wonderfully complimented by the almost poppy guitar line and reserved drumming on the part of Rachel Fuhrer.  If one listens very closely, one will even note what sounds like a mandolin playing ever so softly alongside Langner Larson’s vocals early on.  As subtle as the pairing is and as short as it is, it adds so much depth to the song.  It makes this one more part of an album that has earned the title of one of this year’s most intriguing new albums.

Audiences can hear any of the songs noted here and many more live as the band tours in support of Monuments.  The band is performing today alongside Blondie and Gary Numan in Austin, Texas at Brazos Hall.  The band has a number of other dates scheduled straight through May.  Fans can check out the band’s latest tour schedule online now at http://www.facebook.com/umemusic and http://www.umemusic.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.

The Who Return To America For First Time In Four Years

Legendary rockers, The Who are returning to America for the first time in four years this Fall.  the band will embark on a tour consisting of nearly forty dates beginning November 1st.  The tour will end February 26th, 2013.  The tour includes a stop in Greensboro, North Carolina on November 9th at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The band will perform its landmark album, “Quadrophenia” in its entirety, along with many more of its classic hits.  Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend will be joined by Zak Starkey on drums, Pino Palldino on bass and Simon Townshend on guitar and backing vocals.  Chris Stainton, Loren Gold, and Frank Simes will also join the band for the tour, playing keyboards.  Gold and Simes will also serve as backing vocalists, while Simes will also serve as musical director for the tour.

Members of the band’s official fanclub will have priority access to tickets for the upcoming tour beginning tomorrow, July 20th at 10am.  The offer expires Sunday, July 22nd at 10pm.  Membership in the band’s fanclub is available online at http://fanclub.TheWho.com.  Special VIP packages will also be available that include anything from special seating to access to the band’s soundcheck to special signed memorabilia, VIP parking and lots more.

In celebration of the upcoming tour, a special one-night-only screening of “The Who: Quadrophenia–Can You see The Real Me?” The Story Behind The Album.    The screening is sponsored by NCM Fathom Events, AEG Live, and UMe.  The screening is slated to run next Tuesday, July 24th at 8pm.  In Canada, the screening will take place Wednesday, August 1st at 7:30pm.  Anyone wanting to see the film can get more information on it online at http://www.FathomEvents.com in the U.S. and http://www.cineplex.com/events in Canada.

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend recently sat down for an interview, and discussed “Quadrophenia” and the upcoming tour.  The following is taken from that interview.

Why do you think the music, the themes of “Quadrophenia”–both the album and film adaptation–resonate so strongly today?
In 1972 I was twenty-eight, writing about London and Brighton in 1963 and 1964 when the band was just starting. I was still young enough to remember how it felt to be sixteen or seventeen, and at war with my parents, bosses and authority. I could still remember that feeling of struggling to fit in, something that happened to me when I was even younger, around fourteen, and everyone around me seemed to have got their lives on track. This is such a universal experience for young people that it has echoed. 

(It also seems that many of the first fans of the album don’t want to let it go; it connects them now, just as it did the band, with the important emotions and frustrations of growing up, the poignancy of it all. The film took the musical journey into the real world, and gave it flesh. That could have been a problem, but the Mod look is subtle, and cool, and so it doesn’t suffer the way some other youth films have. I’ve come to appreciate that the film has become almost more important than the album in some ways, especially in the visual age we live in.)

–In this singles-driven digital age, there are artists now singing the praises of the album as an art-form and playing their own albums from front-to-back onstage.  Since ‘Quadrophenia’ represents the album aesthetic in its highest form, what are your thoughts about the importance of albums these days for artists and audiences?
Mod was over in the South of England by the spring of 1965, and in a sense the band had changed too. We were less pure, less an R&B band and becoming more of a singles-oriented pop band. So there is an irony in the fact that when I decided we needed to reconnect with that vitally important and colourful period of our career, and our lives as young men trying to pursue a dream of becoming famous and respected, I realised I would need a double album. I’m pleased to hear about artists who uphold the album as an art-form. 

Album. Art. The questioner’s words here, but I have often been ridiculed for using them about  pop music in the past. The digital medium is only just starting to lend itself to long form work. So I expect to see more of it. It was once thought new music fans had a low attention span; but what they reveal is immense commitment to researching what touches them most deeply, and as the internet gets faster they can find what they seek more quickly. Once a connection is made, it can be extremely deep and long-lasting. This is really just another echo: this is how it was back in the ’60s. Singles first, then albums. Maybe the preponderance of singles on the internet has made the album feel special again? Maybe the old way of listening to music – in longer sittings – is finding its way back into vogue? A journey, for example, is an opportunity to listen to something longer, and easy to carry mobile music has made that possible.

–Which are your favorite songs from “Quadrophenia” to perform live and why?
I really love playing all of it. It’s a unique piece for me in that. Some Who music is nightmarish to perform live. Roger has some very tough songs to sing, and he must have preferences. But for me on guitar everything falls under the fingers. It flows naturally, and I always feel proud of my achievement as the writer, that I put it all together and gave the band a third wind. The real high point for me is always the final song ‘Love Reign O’er Me.’ Roger and I now stand almost alone together, representing not only the original band, but also its Mod audience, and of course all our other early fans. We are connected by it, in what is the most clear cut prayer for redemption, and it feels like an acknowledgment that rock music has managed to deal with the highest emotional challenge: spiritual desperation.

–What else can fans expect to hear on the upcoming tour?
We plan to close the show with a few of the really well-known anthems, and maybe some last minute surprises. These will be as much a surprise to me as to our audience because this is an area I tend to leave to Roger; he’s very good at it.

To get a full schedule of tour dates and more from The Who, go online to http://www.thewho.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.