Alpha Rhythm Kings’ Debut LP Is A Successful Covers Collection

Courtesy: Dehlinger Productions

Keeping the music of days gone by alive in any age is key to any culture. The problem is that in the mainstream music industry, it seems increasingly that acts — regardless of genre — are trying less to keep that part of America’s culture alive than just trying to make a quick buck off of that music when they release covers compilations.  There are so many coves compilations out there across the musical universe that in reality, they have become nearly irrelevant as a format.   Keeping that in mind, it makes Alpha Rhythm Kings’ debut record, Sharp Dressed Men, an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new covers compilations.  That is not to say that the 10-song record, scheduled for release through Dehlinger Productions, is a failure.  Quite the opposite is the case, actually.  It is worth hearing at least once.  That is due in large part to its featured songs.  This will be discussed shortly.  The performances of those songs adds its own appeal to the presentation.  They will be discussed a little later.  The songs’ sequencing rounds out the most important of the record’s elements and brings everything full circle, completing the compilation’s presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make the collection a unique addition to this year’s field of new compilations and new jazz compilations.

Alpha Rhythm Kings’ debut record is an interesting way for the collective, which got its start in 2017, to really launch its professional recording career.  That is because instead of being a profile of the band’s own talents, it is a covers collection. In other words, it is a presentation of the band’s talents in relation to others’ work.  It is not necessarily the best way for any act – regardless of genre – to launch its career, since it is a presentation of said act performing another act’s music instead of its own work.  To that end, the record must be examined for what it is, a covers collection.  Keeping that in mind, the covers are important because of their diversity.  From well-known to lesser-known, the songs touch on a wide range of acts and songs.  Case in point is the collection’s closer, ‘That’s Life.’  The song, originally composed in 1963 by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon, was first recorded by Marion Montgomery.  However, it was not until 1966 when Frank Sinatra took on the song that it really became famous.  The song has since gone on to be a timeless work.  By comparison, the band also takes on ZZ Top’s equally classic ‘Sharp Dressed Man.’  So in these two tracks alone, audiences get a touch of jazz and rock, two completely different genres that are handled quite well through the arrangements and their performances.  That aspect will be discussed a little later.  On yet another note, the band brings renewed focus to Roy Milton, a lesser-known figure in the jazz community through its performance of ‘Short, Sweet and Snappy.’  In the same vein, fellow lesser-known jazz artist Julia Lee gets her own attention through this compilation in the band’s performance of her song, ‘Snatch and Grab It (Opportunity Knocks But Once),’ giving new attention to her and her work, too.  Once more, audiences see the wide range of artists and music that Alpha Rhythm Kings covers in its debut record.  Between these noted songs and artists, and others featured throughout the record, the whole of the record’s featured musical selections makes for reason enough in itself to give this record a chance.  It is just a part of what makes the record worth the chance.  The arrangements and performances thereof make for their own interest.

The arrangements and performances featured thereof in this record are unique in their own way.  Case in point is the collective’s take on the 1921 song ‘The Sheik of Araby.’  The variance between the group’s swinging, up-tempo rendition and that made a century ago from inspiration from the movie The Sheik is stark needless to say.  The original composition has some light jazz overtones as it progresses, but also boasts a clear string arrangement that breaks things up even more.  ARK’s take on the song is more along the lines of something one might expect from the likes of the Brian Setzer Orchestra than the composition presented in that original work, right down to the vocals.  At the same time, the group still manages to make the song its own and still enjoyable.

The group’s performance of King Perry’s ‘Keep A Dollar in Your Pocket’ is another example of the importance of the songs and performances featured in this record.  Perry’s original composition is a relatively simple composition. It features Perry alongside a basic blues type piano/bass line.  That line is countered effectively by Perry’s own work on saxophone here.  The composition is relatively simple, but is still so enjoyable even in that simple approach.  That same noted bass/piano foundation is just as evident in ARK’s take of the song.  As a matter of fact, the band stays largely true to the song’s source material here with the slightest of alterations.  The end result is a song and performance that not only brings new light to another lesser-known jazz figure, but to an equally enjoyable song from said artist.  It is just one more example of the importance of the songs and performances featured in this record.  The band’s take on the 1907 Will D. Cobb/Gus Edwards song ‘School Days’ is yet another example of the importance of the songs and performances featured here. 

Everybody knows ‘School Days.’  It is a timeless tune.  What must be kept in mind here is that allegedly, the original composition centered on a married couple that is looking back on its younger days together in elementary school.  That would explain the simple wind ensemble arrangement made so popular in 1907 by Byron G. Harlon.  The simplicity and innocence in the arrangement reflects the innocence that the couple felt in reminiscing those early days.  There is also a piano-centered arrangement that is just as simple and endearing that conjures those thoughts of innocence and happiness.  ARK’s rendition on the other hand is starkly unlike the original.  The general composition is the same, but instead of the softer, simpler take of the song all those ages ago, the band opts again here for more of a Brian Setzer Orchestra type approach here.  It is quite the energetic song and adds in some extra lyrics.  The lyrics in question are old nursery rhymes to enhance the update even more.  That lyrical and musical update makes this song its own unique presentation that audiences will enjoy in their own right.  When it is considered along with the other covers examined here and the rest of the record’s songs, the whole makes fully clear the role that the arrangements and performances thereof play into the bigger picture of the record.  Together with the diversity in the songs, the collective songs, their arrangements and performances make for plenty of reason for audiences to hear this collection.  They are only a portion of what makes the record stand out among this year’s new covers sets.  The sequencing of the works brings everything full circle and completes the record’s presentation.

The sequencing of the content in this record is important to examine because in this case, it plays directly into the collection’s pacing.  As noted already, approximately 10 songs make up the record’s body.  Those songs bring the record’s run time to only 28 minutes.  That is not very long.  Yet thanks to the record’s sequencing, audiences are actually left feeling fulfilled by the noted content.  The songs’ energies run fluidly from one song to the next as a result of the noted sequencing.  That means that audiences will never feel overwhelmed or bored at any point.  To that end, the sequencing of this collection plays its own integral part to the overall presentation.  It does just as much to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the record’s content and performance thereof.  Considering all of this together, the record in whole proves to be an enjoyable compilation even if not the best way for Alpha Rhythm Kings to launch its professional recording career.

Alpha Rhythm Kings’ debut record is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new compilation records.  While more a display of the band’s talents in relation to others’ works, it still serves its own purpose.  That purpose is to bring renewed attention to a variety of well- and lesser-known jazz acts through its featured songs.  The arrangements and performances thereof featured throughout this record add their own appeal to the presentation.  That is because of the balance of the original compositions and updated takes in the songs.  That balance makes each song unique in its own right.  The sequencing of the total content brings everything full circle and completes the record’s presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make the compilation an interesting covers collection from Alpha Rhythm Kings.  Sharp Dressed Man is scheduled for release Friday through Dehlinger Productions.  More information on Sharp Dressed Men is available along with all of ARK’s latest news at:

Website: https://alpharhythmkings.com

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

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.  

Billy F. Gibbons’ New LP Is Certain To Earn Its Own Share Of “Hardware”

Courtesy: Concord Records

ZZ Top front man Billy F. Gibbons is set to release his third solo album, Hardware Friday through Concord Records. Coming less than two years after the release of his sophomore solo record, The Big Bad Blues, this 12-song record stands out in part because of its featured songs. This will be discussed shortly. The arrangements featured throughout the album are just as important to address as the songs themselves. This will be addressed a little later.  The songs’ sequencing rounds out the album’s most important elements. It will be discussed later, too. All three items noted here are important in their own right to the whole of the record’s presentation. All things considered, they make Hardware another successful new offering from Gibbons that his audiences and those of his band, ZZ Top will equally enjoy.

Hardware, the third solo record from Billy F. Gibbons, is another enjoyable offering from the longtime ZZ Top front man. That is due in no small part to its featured songs. The songs in question are original compositions, save for just one song, ‘Hey Baby, Que Paso,’ originally originally made famous by Augie Meyers, and later by The Texas Tornados. By comparison, Gibbons’ previous solo records, Perfectamundo and The Big Bad Blues were composed primarily of cover tunes, and far less of original works.  For Gibbons to take such a risk and rely more on original music this time around is a nice change of pace.  It shows Gibbons’ willingness to take more of a chance.  That in itself gives audiences reason enough to give this album a chance.

Building on the appeal established through the album’s general presentation is the actual sound and stylistic approach to the songs featured throughout this album. While Gibbons (and ZZ Top’s) established audiences will find much of the album’s arrangements familiar in terms of sound and style, they will also find that Gibbons does branch out a little bit here.  The most noticeable change of pace comes in the contemplative ballad, ‘Vagabond Man.’ It is in this song that Gibbons takes on the all-too-familiar topic of being out on the road and away from family and friends.  So many acts across the musical universe have taken on that topic throughout the years.  In the case of the song’s arrangement though, Gibbons’ subdued approach tugs at listeners’ heart strings so much without trying.  He also tries something slightly different in ‘Spanish Fly.’  The song presents a distinct modern blues rock sound instead of the more typical southern rock sound for which Gibbons has been known for crafting during his career.  It is another welcome change of pace from Gibbons.  The steady tambourine beat and thick, rich bass drum beat against the backing choral vocals here collectively makes for so much interest.  ‘Desert High,’ which closes out the 37-minute record, is another example of the importance of the arrangements featured in the record’s songs.  The subdued arrangement here conjures thoughts of a specific song from The Doors at times.  As the song progresses and really gets heavier, it still maintains its blues rock identity, but still has a touch of hard rock about it.  It is really another change of style for Gibbons in this outing.  When it and the other songs examined here are considered alongside the more familiar southern/blues-based rock for which Gibbons has come to be known, the whole makes the album’s overall musical content just as important as the approach that Gibbons took to this record.

On a side note, the lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical content is largely familiar.  As noted, there is that one contemplative piece in ‘Vagabond Man.’ Much of the record’s other lyrical content though, has to do with a woman in a variety of situations.  ‘She’s on Fire’ is clearly about a man who’s wild for a woman.  ‘My Lucky Card’ is also about a woman.  In this case, Gibbons compares the woman to…well…a lucky poker card.  ‘Spanish Fly’ makes reference to drugs and alcohol.  This should be noted.  But a woman is involved here, too.  ‘Hey Baby, Que Paso’ is a cover, but also has to do with a woman.  On another note, ‘Stackin’ Bones’ is its own unique song that is slightly familiar, lyrically, to ‘Spanish Fly’ just without the mention of the woman.  That is putting it lightly.  So considering all of this and the rest of the record’s lyrical themes, much of this record is lyrically just as familiar for audiences of Gibbons and ZZ Top as that in each side’s existing works.  That makes the record even more accessible. 

As much as Gibbons’ approach to the album and the album’s songs (and their
lyrical counterparts) does for the record’s appeal, they are only a part of what makes the album so appealing.  The sequencing of all of that content brings everything together, completing the record’s presentation.   A full listen to Hardware reveals the album to be a mostly up-tempo record.  There are a couple of moments that are laid back, but still manage to keep the album’s energy moving.  At the album’s center though, audiences get a nice break point in the pairing of ‘Vagabond Man’ and ‘Spanish Fly.’  The two songs collectively pull the record back significantly and then gradually build things back up before the record really gets back up to speed in its energy and emotion in ‘West Coast Junkie.’ From there on to the album’s end, Gibbons keeps things moving solidly.  This ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment in its own right, too.  When this is considered along with Gibbons’ approach to the album and the album’s content, the whole makes Hardware another great record from one of the greatest names in rock and the blues.

Billy F. Gibbons’ third solo album, Hardware, is a successful new offering from the veteran singer/guitarist.  It is a step up from his first time albums.  That is thanks in part to the approach that Gibbons took to the record. Instead of relying mainly on covers this time, he instead opted to make his original compositions the star.  Only one of the record’s dozen total songs is a cover in this case.  The musical (and lyrical) content featured within the songs shows that the risk that Gibbons took this time out paid off, too.  It offered audiences something familiar and something slightly less so throughout.  The sequencing of that total content brought everything together here, completing the album’s presentation.  That mid-album break that was intentionally used here ensured that the record did not get monotonous and kept listeners’ attention and enjoyment.  Keeping all of this in mind, the whole of these elements makes Hardware a presentation that is sure to earn just as much hardware as its predecessors. 

Hardware is scheduled for release Friday through Concord Records.  More
information on the album is available along with all of Billy F. Gibbons’ latest
news at:

Websitehttps://www.billygibbons.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/BillyFGibbonsOfficial

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/billyfgibbons

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://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.

Audiences In Georgia, Beyond Will Enjoy Hearing Blackberry Smoke’s New Album

Courtesy: 3 Legged Records/Thirty Tigers

More than four years after releasing its hit album Find a Light, southern rock band Blackberry Smoke returned this week with an equally strong new record in Georgia You Hear.  The band’s seventh album, this record is everything that audiences have come to expect from the band, which has been called one of the best of the genre by many audiences and critics.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes that are featured throughout the album add a second layer of appeal to the record.  They will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will be addressed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the album a successful presentation from beginning to end.

Blackberry Smoke’s seventh full-length studio recording, Georgia You Hear is a record that every listener will want to hear.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.  That is due in no small part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question largely boast the band’s familiar southern rock tones and stylistic approaches.  At the same time though, they also present a subtle variety from one to the next.  The band even goes full-on country at one point – ‘Lonesome for a Livin’ (ft. Jamey Johnson).’  On a side note, rumblings are that Johnson, who is an outstanding artist in his own right, is finally mapping out his possible first new album in years.  One can only hope and pray that it happens.  Getting back on topic, the arrangements here take audiences in a variety of directions, even as they remain within the southern rock genre from one to the next.  Case in point is the arrangement featured in the album’s opener, ‘Live It Down.’  There is something about the arrangement here (including the vocal delivery style of front man Charlie Starr) that makes the composition comparable to works from the likes of The Black Crowes.  That should come as no surprise to the band’s established audiences.  Those audiences know that the band has shown such similarities in its past records, too.  Luckily though, Blackberry Smoke’s members did not just rehash the sounds of those songs here.  Rather, it is its own original work. 

As the album progresses, the noted diversity is just as evident in ‘Old Enough To Know.’  The twang of the steel pedal and the simple percussion against Starr’s bittersweet vocal delivery and guitar performance lends itself to comparison to works from the likes of James Taylor, Bob Dylan, and even Hank Williams, Sr.  This subdued, simple song is a wonderful break point for the record that keeps things just interesting enough to keep audiences engaged.

On yet another note, ‘All Over The Road,’ the album’s penultimate entry, the band mixes its familiar southern rock sounds with a bit of Americana to make for even more evidence of the diversity in the album’s musical content.  The classic Americana element is most evident in the use of the upbeat piano line.  The more southern rock sound at times conjures thoughts of Tom Petty, ZZ Top and even, again, The Black Crowes. The whole makes the song yet another work that audiences will enjoy while also showing even more, the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements, even though the arrangements stay within the confines of the southern rock genre.  The positive impact of the musical arrangements featured in this record is only a part of what makes the record successful.  The lyrical themes featured in the record are just as diverse (and accessible) as the record’s musical arrangements.

The lyrical themes will connect with audiences just as easily as their musical counterparts.  Case in point is the theme featured in ‘Old Scarecrow,’ the album’s closer.  This song’s lyrical theme presents a message of self-assurance and personal identity.  Starr sings here about not caring about “the year’s new model” and states “I might be a little ragged around the edges…I look at these two hands/And I know there’s someone watching over me.”  He adds, “I ain’t never gonna change my ways.”  This is that defiant message noted.  It is that proverbial middle finger to the status quo, telling people that the subject is going to be who he is, trends be damned.  Again, it is a familiar theme that is used across the musical universe.  It is presented in a familiar fashion that will resonate with audiences just as much as in any other case.

‘Hey Delilah’ presents another familiar lyrical theme.  The theme in question is that of a man who is head over heels for a woman.  Apparently in this case, the woman’s name is Delilah.  Starr recalls here how the woman influenced him (or the song’s subject), even describing how she looked and how it drove him crazy.  That against the song’s musical arrangement, whose southern rock style and sound conjures thoughts of Lynyrd Skynyrd, makes for even more enjoyment here.  It makes the song’s lyrical theme that much more accessible, in turn, showing even more why the album’s lyrical themes are so important to its presentation. 

‘Morningside’ is yet another example of the variety and impact of the album’s lyrical content.  In this case, the band presents in very unique fashion, what comes across as a message about making it through life’s difficult times.  That is inferred as Starr sings in the song’s chorus about “waiting for the morningside” and that “nothing’s ever over…the light is shining on somebody all the time/I’m not stumbling in the darkness/I’m just waiting for the morningside.”  If in fact that is what Starr and company are trying to translate, then they are to be commended for this, again, unique translation.  To that end, it proves one more example of what makes the album’s lyrical content overall just as important as the record’s musical arrangements.  When all of this and the rest of the album’s lyrical content is considered along with all of the album’s musical content, that whole gives listeners every reason to take in this new offering from Blackberry Smoke.  Even with that in mind, it is just a portion of what makes the album worth hearing.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing presented in You Hear Goergia is important to note because a close listen reveals a clear, intentional approach to this aspect.  The album starts off in up-tempo fashion in ‘Live It Down.’  From there, the album’s energy gradually pulls back in each song until it reaches its most subdued point in ‘Lonesome for a Livin’ (ft. Jamey Johnson).’  From there, the record’s second half changes things up a little more to keep things interesting.  ‘All Rise again (ft. Warren Haynes)’ immediately picks things back up to start off the record’s second half.  ‘Old Enough to Know’ then just as starkly changes things again as it pulls way back before giving way to the gritty ‘Morningside.’  That arrangement gives way to even more energy as it transitions to ‘All Over The Road,’ giving audiences one more dose of high energy.  From there, the band closes out the album on a relaxed but still confident note in ‘Old Scarecrow.’  Looking back through all of this, it should be clear that the band and all involved had a clear plan in sequencing the songs.  That plan paid off as it ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment just as much as the album’s content by itself.  When this is considered along with the album’s content, the whole makes this record just as successful as any of the band’s existing albums.

Blackberry Smoke’s brand new album You Hear Georgia is a successful new offering from the band that has become known as one of the leaders of the southern rock realm over its life.  That is proven in part through its musical arrangements.  The arrangements are mostly southern rock songs that still show subtle variations from one to the next in their influences, sounds and styles.  A close listen to the album proves that true.  As if that is not enough, the band even goes full country in at least one song.  The lyrical content featured alongside the album’s musical arrangements is important to the record’s appeal, too.  That is because it is familiar in terms of the presented themes.  The manner in which the familiar themes are presented makes them just as accessible as the album’s musical arrangements.  The sequencing of all of that content rounds out the album’s most important elements.  It brings everything together and ensures in itself, audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make You Hear Georgia a record that audiences in Georgia and beyond will enjoy hearing.  You Hear Georgia is available now through 3 Legged Records/Thirty Tigers.

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

Websitehttps://www.blackberrysmoke.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/BlackberrySmoke

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/blackberrysmoke

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://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.

20 Watt Tombstone’s New EP Proves Big Things Can And Do Come In Small Packages

Courtesy: Dewar PR

Imitation, it’s often said, is the sincerest form of flattery.  If that is indeed the case, then independent rock band 20 Watt Tombstone’s new two-song EP Year of the Jackalope is will certainly flatter country singer Chris Stapleton and the members of ZZ Top.  Additionally, the record, which is scheduled for release Friday, will likely flatter fans of the noted acts as much as the noted acts themselves.  That is proven through the covers of songs from the two hugely respected acts that are featured in the record.  The covers make for a strong new offering for the duo – Tom Jordan and Mitch Ostrowski – and a new overall presentation that is certain to help build the band’s name even more in the rock community.

20 Watt Tombstone’s new forthcoming EP Year of the Jackalope is a record that will appeal equally to its own fans as to fans of the bands whose music is covered in the presentation.  There is no doubt about that.  The EP opens with an amped up cover of ZZ Top’s song ‘Just Got Paid.’  Originally featured in ZZ Top’s 1972 album Rio Grande Mud, the song was never used as a single for the record.  As a matter of fact, the album in question produced one single, ‘Francine.’  That aside, the song has since gone on to become a favorite of fans and bands alike.  20 Watt Tombstone’s take on the now timeless song stays largely true to its source material.  There are no changes to the song’s lyrical content.  The only real change comes in the approach that the band took to the song here.  As noted already, 20 Watt Tombstone’s take on the song is quite amped up in comparison to its source material.  The guitars and drums are both so much fuller in this rendition than in ZZ Top’s take.  That is not to say that ZZ Top’s original composition is bad by any means.  That should not be misconstrued.  It is just a sign of the evolution of recording technology and of instruments themselves.  The twang of the original guitar line is there along with everything else.  The only real difference is that this amped up take gives the song a little bit more of a stoner rock sound than the original song.  That combination of the added stoner element to the original southern rock sound makes for a song in whole that will reach a wide range of listeners.  The song’s companion composition, the cover of Chris Stapleton’s ‘Midnight Train to Memphis’ works with this work to make for even more appeal.

As with 20 Watt Tombstone’s cover of ‘Just Got Paid,’ the duo’s take on ‘Midnight Train to Memphis’ amps up Chris Stapleton’s song, too.  The original song, featured in Stapleton’s 2017 album From A Room: Volume 2 was, like ZZ Top’s song, not featured as a single on his own record.  That aside, it has also gone on to be a favorite in its own right among Stapleton’s fans.  20 Watt Tombstone’s take of ‘Midnight Train to Memphis’ continues the stoner rock approach that the duo presented in its cover of ‘Just Got Paid’ while also staying true to its source material.  It gives the original song, which is enjoyable in its own right, a hard/stoner rock infusion that takes that song to a whole new level.  The hybrid country/stoner/hard rock approach here is certain to bring in Stapleton and his fans as well as 20 Watt Tombstone’s own fans.  When the song is considered along with 20 Watt Tombstone’s cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Just Got Paid,’ the two songs together make Year of the Jackalope a record that while small still packs quite a punch.  That punch makes this record a presentation that could make 2021 a big year for 20 Watt Tombstone.

20 Watt Tombstone’s forthcoming EP Year of the Jackalope is proof that big things can and often do come in small packages.  It proves over the course of just two songs and little more than seven minutes, this band deserves its own share of attention among the next generation of hard and stoner rock bands.  That is proven through each of its two covers, which are takes on songs that while themselves not even singles from their respective acts, have still proven to be fan favorites.  20 Watt Tombstone’s take on the songs takes the original songs, which are enjoyable in their own right and gives them a hard rock infusion that gives each song a whole new life.  Each song is enjoyable in its own right to the whole of this brief presentation.  Collectively speaking, they make Year of the Jackalope a record that, given the right support, could make 2021 a big year in itself for 20 Watt Tombstone.  Year of the Jackalope is scheduled for release Friday.  More information on the EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: https://20watttombstone.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/20watttombstone

Twitter: https://twitter.com/20watttombstone

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.  

PBS Proves Again, Its Importance In Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Documentaries List

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WNET

Documentaries, it would seem, are more important in today’s world of television and movies than ever before.  What with the seeming never-ending ocean of prequels, sequels and remakes being turned out by the major movie and television studios, and the equally endless ocean of dumbed down “reality tv” competition shows and dramas being turned out by television studios, documentaries are now the last way for audiences to get anything original, let alone truly engaging and entertaining.  To that end, it goes without saying that there is just as much for a list of the best new documentaries each year as for any other category.  Keeping that in mind, Phil’s Picks has created just such a list once again this year.  As with past years, this list is composed primarily of titles from PBS, the very last bastion of truly family friendly and worthwhile programming.  They come from PBS’ most beloved and respected series, Nature, Nova, and Secrets of the Dead.  One is even a standalone presentation that will appeal equally to lovers of cats and dogs.

As with each past year’s list of top new documentaries, this year’s list features the Top 10 new documentaries and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Documentaries.

PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW DOCUMENTARIES

  1. Nature: Okavango: River of Dreams
  2. Secrets of the Dead: Abandoning The Titanic
  3. NOVA: Guess Who’s Driving
  4. Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool
  5. Secrets of the Dead: Bombing Auschwitz
  6. NOVA: Why Bridges  Collapse
  7. Cat and Dog Tales
  8. NOVA: Rise of the Mammals
  9. NOVA: Dead Sea Scrolls Detectives
  10. NOVA: A To Z: The First Alphabet/How Writing Changed The World
  11. ZZ Top: That Lil Ol’ Band From Texas
  12. NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime
  13. Nature: Bears
  14. NOVA: Human Nature
  15. NOVA: Decoding DaVinci

Next up from Phil’s Picks is 2020’s Top 10 New Family DVDs & BDs.  Stay tuned for that.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://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.  

ZZ Top Live Recording To Get Vinyl Re-Issue

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment will re-issue ZZ Top’s live recording Live in Texas this month.

Originally released in 2010 the recording is scheduled for re-issue on Sept. 25 on a 2LP set.  While the recording was originally released in 2010 on DVD/BD/CD, the performance featured in the recording was originally recorded in 2007.  It finds the band performing a variety of hit songs from its 10X Platinum 1983 album Eradicator.

As an added bonus, the new 2LP presentation of Live in Texas will also feature a performance of ‘Heard It On The X.’  The song was also featured as a bonus track on the original release’s CD platform.  Audiences can view the band’s performance of the song here.

The 2LP’s track listing is noted below.  Pre-orders for the re-issue are open.

Track Listing:

Side A:
A1: Got Me Under Pressure
A2: Waitin’ For The Bus
A3: Jesus Just Left Chicago
A4: I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
A5: Cheap Sunglasses

Side B:
B1: Pearl Necklace
B2: Heard It On The X
B3: Just Got Paid
B4: Rough Boy

Side C:
C1: Blues Intro
C2: Blue Jean Blues
C3: Gimme All Your Lovin’
C4: Sharp Dressed Man

Side D:
D1: Legs
D2: Tube Snake Boogie
D3: La Grange
D4: Tush

More information on the Z Top’s forthcoming Live in Texas re-issue is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.zztop.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ZZTop

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/zztop

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Websitehttp://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://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.

Fore Announces New Album Release Date, Specs; Debuts New LP’s Fifth Single

Courtesy: Infecting Cells PR

Punk rock super group Fore announced more details about its forthcoming album this week.

The band revealed the title, cover art, release date and track listing for its new album Tuesday.  The band — Christian “Speesy” Giesler (ex-Kreator), Jermaine Kling (Venom Prison, Masscare, The Absence), Taylor Nordberg (Masscare, The Absence) and Brian Stephenson (Old James, Skull Fist) — announced its debut album will be titled Hombres and its release date is scheduled for Aug. 7.

The album’s cover art features the band’s members against Mount Rushmore a la Deep Purple’s cover art for its landmark 1970 album Deep Purple in Rock.  the album’s title could be argued to be a tribute of sorts to ZZ Top.

Nordberg talked about the album’s forthcoming release in a recent interview.

“I’m beyond excited to release this album, said Nordberg.  “It has been a blast creating it with such talented and easy-to-work-with musicians, and it’s a great feeling to do it all in-house, without any help from any management or label. You may be wondering about the album cover. Well we always wanted to collaborate with our buds in ZZ Top and Deep Purple but our schedules never lined up so we figured this was the next best thing.”

In anticipation of the album’s upcoming release, Fore has debuted another new single from the 11-song record in the form of ‘Diagnosis.’  The song, which is the album’s opener, is the album’s fifth single.  Previously, the band released the singles ‘Pet,’ ‘Song For A Friend,’ ‘What’s Right For You’ and ‘Today We Rise (No Tomorrow)’ through its official Bandcamp page.

The album’s track listing is noted below.

 

“Hombres” track listing:

Diagnosis

What’s Right For You

Churchill Quote

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Song For A Friend

Movement

World Won’t Wait

Find A Way

All Comes Crashing

Knocked Down

Today We Rise (No Tomorrow)

 

Nordberg and Kling are mixing and mastering Fore’s debut album at their own Smoke & Mirrors Productions in Spring Hill, Fla.

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

 

Websitehttp://forepunk.bandcamp.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/FOREpunk

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://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.

BPMD’s ‘American Made’ Covers Collection Is Entertaining, But Hardly Memorable

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Covers collections are among the most peculiar releases that musical acts of any genre can release during their careers.  Unlike singles compilations, which in their own way, actually serve a purpose – that purpose being that they could lead new audiences to pick up an act’s albums in whole – covers compilations serve little if any purpose.  They are just collections of songs that acts put together to “pay tribute” to other acts and make money in the process.  They are really just space fillers that acts use in order to satisfy contractual obligations for album release numbers.  Keeping that in mind, one can’t help but wonder why respected and talented musicians, such as Bobby Blitz (Overkill), Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, The Winery Dogs, Transatlantic, Sons of Apollo, Liquid Tension Experiment, etc.), Phil Demmel (ex-Machine Head, Vio-lence) and Mark Menghi (Metal Allegiance) would come together just to create a compilation of cover songs for what is right now its first and only release.  The 10-song compilation, titled American Made, is scheduled for release Friday through Napalm Records.  It does delve into music from some notable bands who have come before this hard rock supergroup dubbed BPMD.  That dichotomy of the bands whose music is covered versus the band performing said songs does make for at least some interest at best.  This item will be addressed a little later.  The specific arrangements of said songs is certain to be its own discussion point.  They will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of this compilation.  All things considered, American Made proves itself to be a record that while worth hearing at least once, is sadly anything but memorable.

Hard rock super group BPMD’s debut recording American Made is a recording that is worth hearing at least once, but sadly not much more than that.  One of the record’s only saving graces is the contrast of the bands whose works are covered to the band performing said covers.  The bands whose works are covered throughout this roughly 37-minute collection include, but are not limited to Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, and Grand Funk Railroad.  Even Mountain gets its own recognition here.  Simply put, the bands whose works are covered here are in a realm that is completely opposite of the bands from which BPMD’s members have come.  Blitz is front man of the veteran thrash metal outfit Overkill.  Portnoy spent the majority of his professional career keeping time for the famed prog-metal outfit Dream Theater.  Even the other projects in which he has taken part have been in genres directly opposite of that of the covered bands.  Much the same can be said of Demmel and Menghi.  Considering the contrast of the resumes of BPMD’s members and the bands that they cover here, that in itself is worth at least engagement for audiences.  It shows that the band was willing to go out on a limb and do something different than what they normally do in their dayjobs.  One could also argue that maybe it is a display of the acts that influenced the band’s members.  If that’s that case, then the group has definitely gone far from those influences over the years, again making for its own share of discussion for listeners.  To that end, that contrast of the band’s collective background and the bands that this group covered does at best a little bit for the collection.  Directly tied to those discussions is the discussion on the collection’s one unavoidable negative, the very fact that it is a covers collection.

It has already been noted here that the members of BPMD have decidedly outstanding resumes.  So to that end, it is just baffling that considering the band members’ pedigrees, the group’s first impression of sorts would be a collection of songs that have been covered time and again by so many other acts.  These men are elite figures within the hard rock and metal communities.  It made audiences hope for something original right out of the gate so to speak.  Instead, the group opted to essentially phone it in and put out a covers compilation.  Had the group gone that route of releasing a debut loaded with original content first and then this record later, it would have made the compilation easier to accept. What’s more, unlike the case of Fozzy, which also started off with a collection of covers so long ago, it has to be assumed that BPMD is just a one-off project for its members.  At least in the case of a band, such as Fozzy, it was known that said band’s debut was just the beginning for that act.  This knowledge detracts from the draw of American Made.  It essentially makes the compilation come across as little more than a cash grab for the band and nothing more.  Keeping that in mind, this unavoidable aspect of American Made makes it difficult to call this record memorable.  While this aspect cannot be ignored, it does not make the album a complete failure for the group.  BPMD’s take on the record’s songs makes for its own share of engagement.

One of the most interesting updates that the band features in American Made is that of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Saturday Night Special.’  BPMD’s update does largely stay true to its source material by and large.  The amped up re-imagining also gives the song a new identity and feel, needless to say.  It gives the song more of a 1980s hair metal type of sense.  Whether fans love or hate this one will be left to them, but it is definitely an interesting take, needless to say.  BPMD’s update of Aerosmith’s ‘Toys in the Attic’ is another key addition to the collection.  As with the band’s cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Saturday Night Special,’ this cover also stays largely true to its source material.  It just once again gives the cover an amped up remake.  The song even goes so far as to include Joe Perry’s guitar solo from the original work.  It’s just weird hearing Bobby Blitz’s gritty vocals and the full-on hard rock re-imagining here.  That aside, this update actually works almost as well as the original.  BPMD’s cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s ‘American Band’ is another important addition to this compilation.  The band’s take once more does strive to stay true to its source material, and it is certain in its own right to create a lot of discussion among listeners.  That’s because while it does stay true to the source material, it seems to have trouble balancing its attempt to echo the song’s classic rock sound and the band members’ own hard rock and metal leanings.  It is definitely going to have listeners talking.  That is not to say that the song is a total loss or that any of the compilation’s works are losses.  The songs will certainly leave listeners talking, though.  Between the discussions insured through the musical updates and the very lineup of featured bands, which could actually lead some listeners to embark on musical journeys into catalogs of bands to which they otherwise might not have listened, the compilation proves itself worth hearing at least once.  To that end, the compilation is not a total failure.  However, one cannot ignore the fact that considering the resume of each of BPMD’s members, this just seems like little more than a cash grab.  To that end American Made makes itself worth hearing at least once, but anything but an American classic itself

BPMD’s covers collection American Made is a headscratcher of a record.  The first release from the hard rock super group, it will potentially lead some listeners to take their own journeys into the catalogs of the record’s featured bands.  The songs that are covered here play even more into that potential musical journey of discovery, as the covers will definitely lead to lots of discussion among audiences.  For all of the positives that the record’s featured bands and songs generate, one still cannot ignore the very issue that the band’s members are among the music industry’s elite figures.  To that end, coming together for potentially just one record and making said record a covers collection will leave a somewhat bitter taste in many listeners’ mouths, so to speak.  It leaves one feeling like this was just a rushed, phoned in work that was little more than a cash grab for the band’s members.  Keeping all of this in mind, the record proves itself worth hearing at least once, but sadly not much more than that.  American Made is scheduled for release Friday through Napalm Records.  More information on American Made is available along with all of BPMD’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://bpmdmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/bpmdofficial

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://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.

Billy Gibbons Debuts Live Performance Of ‘Missin Yo’ Kissin”

Courtesy: Concord Records

ZZ Top front man Billy Gibbons has debuted a new live video.

The video, captured Nov. 11, 2018 at the Aztec Theater in San Antonio, TX was of Gibbons and his fellow musicians — drummer Matt Sorum (Guns ‘N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver) and guitarist Austin Hanks — performing the song ‘Missin Yo’ Kissin.”  The performance was part of Gibbons’ 2018 tour in support of his album The Big Bad Blues. Gibbons’ long-time guitar tech Elwood Francis performed on harmonica during the tour.

Photographer/videographer Harry Reese recorded the new featured performance.  Reese used four cameras to capture the performance, two of which were GoPro cameras mounted on Sorum’s drumset. The other two cameras were handheld units that Reese used as he traversed the stage.

The video, which was saved to a hard drive, was allegedly forgotten once the tour was over, and unearthed by Sorum just two weeks ago, leading to its  premiere.

Gibbons talked about the video’s discovery in a recent interview.

“It’s fortuitous that Matt remembered the video and fished it out of his stick bag,” he said.  “Now, more than ever, this is an example of our go-to phrase, ‘Blues you can use.'”

Gibbons’ album went on to earn top honors at the 2019 Blues Music Awards, taking home the Best Blues Rock Album award. Due to a scheduling conflict caused by a ZZ Top performance the same night, Gibbons was unable to accept the award, so his wife Gilligan Stillwater accepted the award on his behalf.

More information on The Big Bad Blues is available online along with all of Billy Gibbons’ latest news at:

 

Website: http://billygibbons.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/billyfgibbons

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://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.

 

‘ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas’ Is A Big Hit

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The wait is almost over for ZZ Top fans to own the band’s new documentary.  ZZ Top: The Little Ol’ Band From Texas comes home Friday on DVD/Blu-ray combo pack.  The 90-minute documentary, which is part of the band’s ongoing celebration of its 50th anniversary, is a presentation that ZZ Top’s most devoted fan base will appreciate, as will rock fans in general.  That is due in part to the doc’s main feature, which will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content that comes with the documentary adds even more appeal to its presentation, and will be addressed a little later.  The documentary’s average price point proves to be money relatively well-spent by those who purchase the documentary.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of this doc.  All things considered, they make ZZ Top: The Little Ol’ Band From Texas a piece that is easily one of this year’s top new documentaries.

ZZ Top’s new documentary That Little Ol’ Band From Texas is a positive new presentation from one of the most respected and revered acts in the music business today.  Set for release Friday through Eagle Rock Entertainment and Banger Films, the 90-minute story takes audiences from the band’s early days coming up in the rich Texas music scene all the way up to the release of the band’s seminal album Eliminator, which remains today, the band’s best-selling album of all.  Along the way, audiences hear from the band and some of those who are close to the band, about its history and impact on the music industry.  Multiple mentions are made of the band’s late manager Bill Ham and his role in the band’s success, going from ‘That Little Ol’ Band From Texas’ to being one of the top names in the Texas (and music) world.  That is just one part of the story.  ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill even addresses the moniker used for the band “That Little Ol’ Band From Texas” at one point, noting that he felt it was originally used in a negative sense against the band just because the trio was not like all the mainstream acts out there at the time. Hill’s further discussion that the band embraced the moniker rather than let it get to the band will put a smile on any viewer’s face.  On a related note, the band members’ discussions on the role that the rise of punk music (yes, punk music) had on its own approach to songwriting, too.  This is another key discussion for audiences to take in.  ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard also gets the opportunity to open up about his drug use and recovery.  That story alone is one of the documentary’s most interesting moments. That is because it is evident that Beard really was sincere about realizing what he had done to himself and his desire to clean up.  Clearly he walked the walk, as he got cleaned up.  Staying on that note, audiences will be entertained to learn how the band’s hiatus – during which Beard got cleaned up – led to the creation of the band’s now iconic image involving Hill and Gibbons’ beards.  Not to give away too much, but not everyone close to the band was happy with the band’s decision to take on its new look, though it turns out, one original naysayer admits, the band’s decision to go the long beard look turned out to be the right move in the long term.  This is just one more of the engaging and entertaining stories that is shared throughout the course of ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas.  The documentary is chock full of other material, including a discussion on the advent of MTV on the band’s fame, that audiences will appreciate.  Even as the credits roll, audiences get even more story, with the band’s members today sitting at a table at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, TX, looking back on the band’s history and its future.  So even though the documentary ends with the band reaching its apex in 1983, the story does not necessarily end there.  That should appease even the most devoted of the band’s fans.  Keeping all of this in mind, the story at the center of ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas forms a solid foundation for the documentary.

The bonus content that accompanies the documentary’s main feature builds on the foundation that the noted story forms in its own presentation.  The doc’s bonus content comes in the form of two separate “live” performances – one at Gruene Hall and the other is a set of vintage live performances culled from the Ham Estate archives.  Audiences get to see in the latter, ZZ Top in its infancy, sans beards.  The five-song collection, which features performances of ‘Thunderbird,’ ‘Tush,’ ‘Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers,’ I’m Bach, I’m Nationwide’ and ‘Manic Mecahnic’ are in themselves bonuses in every sense.  The footage, as old as it clearly is, has stood the test of time.  Even having been recorded before the days of high definition video and audio, it still looks and sounds wonderful.  The band’s rhinestone suits in the performance of ‘Thunderbird’ are fully visible while the audio is wholly clean.  The vintage performance of ‘Tush’ is just as enjoyable as that of ‘Thunderbird,’ its audio and video being just as clear, even despite the recording technology of the day.  It is clear throughout the footage, that the performances all came from the same show, though it is not specifically noted when and where the show was recorded.  However, noting the band’s beards, it was from after the band’s hiatus.

By comparison, the newer, more recent footage recorded at the Gruene Hall was clearly recorded in the last year or so.  The cinematography and sound are stunning for such an intimate set of performances.  There is no audience, or at least not that is visible or audible.  Gibbons’ vocals are just as strong as ever, and the talents of Beard and Hill have not faded in the least, either.  Between that footage and the vintage footage, audiences get in whole, nearly an hour of live and semi-live performances that is well worth taking the time to watch.  When this is considered along with the value of the documentary’s main feature, the combination of that primary and secondary content more than makes this presentation worth owning by any rock music fan and ZZ Top devotee.

Taking into account the importance of the collective content featured in ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas, it goes without saying that while the documentary is not necessarily cheap, the presentation’s average price point is a note that the noted audiences will not mind paying.  The average price point for this documentary is $26.28.  That price is reached by averaging prices from listings at Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  At the time of this review’s posting, the documentary was not listed at Walmart’s site.  Again, the price is not inexpensive, but it could have been worse.  Considering the amount of content that is featured in the documentary, roughly an hour and ten minutes total, counting the bonus content, that price of just under $30 is not that bad.  Best Buy, Target and Amazon all list prices below that point at $22.99, $$25.49 and $22.93 respectively.  Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million both break that crest at $29.99 and $29.98 respectively.  So again, even with an average price point of $26, the least of the documentary’s separate price listings are just below that level, proving themselves to still be relatively affordable.  Keeping all of this in mind, the money spent on ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas is money that audiences will not regret spending.  Keeping this in mind along with the value of the documentary’s collective content, the whole of this presentation, ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas proves to be a big hit for the band’s most devoted fans and for rock fans in general.

ZZ Top’s new forthcoming documentary That Little Ol’ Band From Texas is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  That is due in no small part to the documentary’s primary content, which tells a deep, rich story of one of the music industry’s most respected and revered bands.  The bonus live performances that accompany the documentary adds its own share of engagement and entertainment value to the presentation.  The presentation’s average price point and separate listings round out its most important elements.  Each noted item is important in its own right to the whole of this documentary.  All things considered, they make ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas a big hit.  More information on the documentary is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.zztop.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/zztop

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://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.