Music

Music

Sat
23
Jan

The Ritchie Blackmore Story: The Greatest Guitarist You Know the Least About

Ritchie Blackmore Story Bluray Dennis Russo Critical Blast Eagle Rock

"The Ritchie Blackmore Story" on DVD from Eagle Rock Entertainment chronicles the long and storied career of one of the greatest rock guitarist of all time. With a career spanning over 50 years and running the gamut from Hard Rock to Heavy Metal, from “commercial hit” Rock to Medieval Renaissance music, and considered by many to be one of the most spectacular visual guitar players, Ritchie Blackmore is also the one guitarist most people probably know the least about.

Thu
14
Jan

Avenged Sevenfold Announces Changes; Uncertainty

In an update on their website, Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) has issued a statement that they've exercised their right to stop recording for Warner Bros. Records.

*     *     *     *

In their statement they cite the incredible turnover of executives since they signed on, including "3 different regimes". There is also a mention of a lawsuit filed by the label against the band:

"In the coming days, you may read about the lawsuit our label filed against us for exercising our legal rights, rights the State of California granted specifically to protect artists." - A7X

Mon
28
Dec

Eva Cassidy, Nightbird: One night, one take, one incredible performance!

Eva Cassidy Nightbird Blix Street Critical Blast Dennis Russo

One of the joys in getting to review music is getting to listen to someone you've never heard of before and after listening to them you realized you missed something special for a long time.

Such is the case for Eva Cassidy. I had never heard of Eva or her music prior to listing to the NIGHTBIRD 2CD set I am reviewing here. I could forgive myself for not hearing of it if Eva was someone relatively new on the scene. That is not the case here, so I could kick myself in the pants for not having heard of her sooner and been listening to her music all this time! Eva Cassidy passed away in November 1996 at the age of 33 from melanoma a mere 10 months or so after the music on these CD was recorded.

Fri
18
Dec

Lady Antebellum "Wheels Up Tour" DVD Review

Lady Antebellum "Wheels Up Tour" DVD Cover

Lady Antebellum spent much of 2015 on the road on their "Wheels Up Tour," taking off in Olso, Norway, and landing in Las Vegas in early October. About half-way through they filmed a show at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in Irvine, California on June 27th and that is the basis of this release.

The video opens with a carload of young girls who rode three days from Austin to attend. And no wonder -- they get an up-close-and-personal meet-and-greet with the band. Quickie interviews of fans coming to the concert in Irvine and stage setup and preparations make way for a typical rock concert smoke and lights entrance. They've come a long way since I saw them at southern Wisconsin's Rock County 4-H Fair in the summer of 2008 -- just a simple show following their self-titled debut, but with the enthusiasm you knew would take them far. I see the dude sporting the dual braids is still playing backing guitar.

Thu
17
Dec

Like a Fine Wine, Clapton Just Gets Better with Age

Eric Claption Slowhand at 70 Live Albert Hall

Should someone 70 years old be able to play the guitar like this? Should Vladimir Horowitz have been able to play the piano the way he did in his 80s? While you may have to sacrifice a little finesse, when you’re the master of your instrument age really does become nothing more than a number.

What can be said about Eric Clapton that hasn’t already been said before? Even that line has been said before! I have often found it very interesting that, when guitarists talk about Jimi Hendrix, they say he was the best ever, and they invariably follow up with "I can play him perfectly." Oddly enough, though, I have not heard such banter spoken about Eric Clapton. Yes, there are many that will say, and perhaps justifiably so, that he is the best ever, but I have never heard anyone say they could play him perfectly. Why is that?

Fri
04
Dec

Patty Smyth Delivers Christmas Music So Smooth and Sophisticated, It's Scandalous

Patty Smyth Come On December Scandal

I was a Patty Smyth fan back in the days when she sang such hits as “The Warrior” and “Good Bye To You” with her band Scandal. She was not only beautiful but she also had a way of picking songs that showcased her talents, and a voice that put right up there with Pat Benatar in my book.

After Scandal broke up, I lost touch with what Patty was doing. I knew she married John McEnroe later on, but I lost touch with her musically. I recently discovered that I must have been living in somewhat of a musical shell, because I found out she has written and sung songs that have garnered her Grammy and Academy award nominations.

A short time ago Patty recorded a Christmas album, COME ON DECEMBER, on Parallel 22 Records.

Sun
29
Nov

Spotlight Gallery Rolling Stones Clear Viny and Album Art Lithographs Make Excellent Holiday Gift

Rolling Stones Lithograph Vinyl Time-Life SpotlightGallery

The Rolling Stones Limited Edition Clear Vinyl + Album Art Lithographs.

Normally in reviews such as these I list the email and phone numbers to order the item(s) being reviewed at the end of the review.

Well I’m not doing that here. These collectibles are so beautiful, so well made, and so you-need-to-have-one-of-these, that even at $199.00 they are such a value for what you receive. And because they are limited to only 2,500 worldwide each, I’m afraid that if you wait till the end you might miss out on any remaining. Remember you’re not only going to get the limited edition lithograph, you’re going to get the matching limited edition vinyl album on clear vinyl as well, for the same very reasonable price!

You can come back and finishing reading the review after you have secured yours.

Sat
28
Nov

Straight No Chaser: THE NEW OLD FASHIONED Tour Mixes Fresh "A Cappella" Cocktails

Straight No Chaser performing at the Fox Theatre, St. Louis, 11/27/15. Photo Credit: Jeff Ritter

If you’re in the mood for a classic cocktail, you might order up an Old Fashioned—a jigger of bourbon, two dashes of Angostura bitters, a lump of sugar and just a splash of water. It’s a drink that goes back to the 19th century and is something every bartender should know how to mix. “THE NEW OLD FASHIONED,” however, is an entirely different yet no less potent concoction of heartwarming harmonies, familiar aural flavors and inhibition-busting a cappella, served Straight No Chaser, in the Indiana tradition. Welcome to your new addiction. Please tip generously.

In fact, here’s a tip for you: if you have an opportunity to see Straight No Chaser live in your town, you owe it to yourself to do so. They’ll lift your spirits, get your toes a-tappin’, and stay for a solid hour after the show to meet you and sign your CD, t-shirt, and ticket stub, or perhaps even one of your children. You won’t find too many musical acts more accommodating!

Sun
15
Nov

Gladys Knight and the O'Jays Bring Hits and Smiles to the Fox Theatre

The O'Jays: Walter Williams, Eric Grant and Eddie Levert, at the Fox Theatre, 11/13./15. Photo by Jeff Ritter

When you hear the word “Motown” any number of names should immediately spring to mind: Barry Gordy Jr., Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, The Marvelettes, Smokey Robinson, and of course, Gladys Knight & The Pips. When I found out that the Empress of Soul was coming to the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis on November 13, 2015, I was excited. When I found out she was sharing the bill with the O’Jays, the Ohio soul standouts who struck gold time and time again on Philadelphia International Records, I was over the moon. I had to be there to witness these legends for myself.  

Fri
13
Nov

Greg Page's Here Comes Christmas a Sleigh Ride Full of New and Cherished Songs

Greg Page Wiggles Here Comes Christmas Music Dennis Russo Review Critical Blast

I’ve just settled down to type this review after listening to Greg Page’s “Here Comes Christmas” and I am on cloud nine! I feel so good, so happy and here is why.

I have always been a Greg Page fan since I first saw and heard him on my daughter's “Wiggles” tapes and CD’s. Greg was the original Yellow Wiggle and lead singer for the group. I always enjoyed his voice and the songs they sang. As time went by, as time does, the daughter grew and The Wiggles were replaced by other shows and music -- but I never stopped liking Greg’s singing. I just didn’t have the opportunity to listen to him anymore.

Fast forward to today. When I heard Greg was releasing a Christmas album, I was like, "So what if it may be somewhat skewed towards kids? Christmas is Christmas and everyone is a kid at Christmas."

Mon
02
Nov

Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs Delivers 57 Songs and 1000 Smiles

Laurie Berkner Classic Kids Songs Dennis Russo Critical Blast

When I heard that Laurie Berkner was going to release a 2CD set of classic kids’ songs, I said to myself “This I have got to hear!”

It is no secret that I and my family are bonafide Laurie Berkner fans. Her original children’s songs have made us smile and given us countless memories since we first saw her perform on Nick Jr’s Jack's Big Music Show. Now here we were going to be able to listen to Laurie and her band sing and put her touch on classic children’s songs. This 2 CD set has 57 total songs, which also include 6 of her own (which, in my opinion, are classics as well and certainly belong here).

Tue
20
Oct

Heaven Adores You: A Documentary about the Life and Music of Elliott Smith

Heaven Adores You Elliot Smith

It’s impossible to write a review of a documentary about Elliott Smith without it becoming deeply personal.  That’s apt, because his solo career was one of deeply personal lyrics and the intimacy of a man alone with only his guitar.

            I was really interested in viewing this documentary because my knowledge of Elliott Smith was rather limited.  I knew he had a rough adolescence, played in a band prior to his solo act, and had committed suicide.  Also, I was aware that he was struggling with his fame from his career.  On the album EITHER/OR, he sings, “I’m so sick and tired of all these pictures of me/Completely wrong/Totally wrong.”

Tue
13
Oct

Building 429 Delivers Praise Music to Raise Your Spirits -- and the Roof

Building 429 Unashamed Dennis Russo Critical Blast

Anyone familiar with Christian Rock today probably knows well the band Building 429. Comprised of Jason Roy (Lead Guitar/Vocals/Keyboards), Michael Anderson (Drums), Jesse Garcia (Guitar/Keyboards/BGVS), and Aaron Branch (Bass/BGVS), their newest album UNASHAMED already has two hit singles getting quite a bit of airplay: "Impossible" and "Ocean Deep."

For those not familiar with them, their name is derived from Ephesians 4:29 which in the HCSB Bible reads as “No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.” They were the Gospel Music Association New Artist of the Year in 2005, and have had many hit Christian songs through the years following, not the least of which was 2012’s “Where We Belong” which set a record for remaining as Billboards #1 Christian Song for an unprecedented 15 weeks.

Mon
12
Oct

"Ode To Thinking" Will Have You Thinking You Need to Hear More from Bobby Long

Bobby Long Ode Thinking Dennis Russo Critical Blast

ODE TO THINKING is the newest album from British singer/songwriter/guitarist Bobby Long comprised of eleven original songs, and produced by Mark Hallman.

Bobby hails from London and moved to New York in 2009. A product of the burgeoning English folk renaissance, it is easy to hear the influences of both the home of his birth and that of his home in New York.

I have been listening to a lot of “old school” rock of late, so listening to Mr. Long’s CD offered me a chance to sit back and listen to music that would stir my thinking. Not being familiar with his earlier works, I wasn’t sure what kind of songs I was going to hear given a title such as ODE TO THINKING. What I found after listening to the CD was that the album was aptly named.

Sat
10
Oct

What's Going On Gives "Taste" of Blues Rock at its Best

Taste What's Going On Live Isle Wight Eagle Rock Entertainment

Taste, founded and fronted by the legendary guitarist Rory Gallagher, was an Irish blues/rock band, and arguably one of the greatest power trios ever to hit the stage. I would easily put them up there with Cream, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Blue Cheer, Grand Funk Rail Road and The Jimi Hendrix Experience as the best ever; certainly, in my opinion, playing by far the best rock ever to come out of the Emerald Isle. Yes, I said ever –  e.v.e.r – ever, by anyone.

What made them so good to me was the sheer raw energy with which Rory Gallagher played the guitar. He could stand to-to-toe with any other great guitarist. Doubt me? His performance was so well-received at the show that when Jimi Hendrix was asked what it was liked to be the best guitar player in the world, he replied, “I don’t know, why don’t you go and ask Rory Gallagher." Need a better recommendation than that?

Sun
27
Sep

Devil To Pay has a song for all the blues and for every blues fan

Kim Simmonds Savoy Brown Devil To Pay Dennis Russo Critical Blast

Savoy Brown is one of the seminal English blues rock bands to come out of the sixties, and are still playing great blues after all these years. Their newest album, THE DEVIL TO PAY on Ruf Records, continues true to form.

Although the line up of the band has seen numerous musicians come and go throughout the years since they started in 1965, with some finding fame in other bands (most notably Foghat)  the band as it is today comprises Simmonds on guitar, vocals and harmonica, Pat DeSalvo on bass, and Garnet Grimm on drums. This kind of intimate lineup is perfect for this kind of music to my eyes, and especially to my ears when the guitar player is a master craftsman like Kim Simmonds.

Fri
25
Sep

Santana, McLaughlin Illuminate World of Great Jazz Fusion, Guitar

The Montreux Jazz Festival was started in 1969 by the late Claude Nobs, and is renowned worldwide as one of if not the great Jazz festivals held; everyone who is anyone wants to play at this yearly event. Now, with consent from the festival and the artists, Eagle Rock Entertainment is making these concerts available for the first time on CD.

SANTANA AND MCLAUGHLIN: LIVE AT MONTREUX 2011 is one such concert…and what a concert it is!

Tue
15
Sep

KISS is the New Gold Standard for American Rock 'n' Roll

According to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), KISS is now #1 with the most Gold Album Record awards. With 26 albums and 4 solo albums under the KISS brand (released simultaneously), a feat never duplicated, they have earned a total of 30 Gold albums. They have also acquired 14 Platinum and 3 multi-Platinum albums over the years.

A true testament of their longevity that spans across four decades.

From the press release:

“Congratulations to KISS – the new Gold standard for albums by American bands,” said Cary Sherman, Chairman & CEO, RIAA.  “What an extraordinary achievement for an enduring band.  Forty years later and the band is still rocking.  Congratulations to KISS on their Gold album milestone and continued success."

Mon
14
Sep

Owning EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER: LIVE AT MONTREUX 1997 Will Have You Saying, "Ooh, What A Lucky Man I Am"

Emerson Lake Palmer Montreux 1997 CD music Dennis Russo Critical Blast

What do Aaron Copeland, Carl Orff, Modest Mussorgsky, and Johann Sebastian Bach all have in common?  They all have music arranged and played by the greatest power trio of progressive rock ever: Emerson Lake and Palmer.

Is there a better opening song to a concert than “Karnevil 9-1st Impression Part 2?” Or better opening lyrics than “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends?" In all my concert going and musical listening, I think not (well, maybe with the exception of Alice Cooper’s “Hello Hooray”); but anyway, how apropos for this band who, even at the time of this show in 1997, had been around, despite a break-up in the early 80’s, for decades?

Mon
07
Sep

No Need to Dream On any Longer, ROCKS DONINGTON Delivers Aerosmith To Your Home

Aerosmith Rocks Donington LP DVD review Critical Blast Dennis Russo

The ROCKS DONINGTON 2014 “Limited Edition” set from Eagle Rock Entertainment is a 3 LP/single DVD set of the live outdoor show Aerosmith performed in 2014.

The band consists of the familiar as family line up of:

Steven Tyler

Joe Perry

Brad Whitford

Tom Hamilton

Joey Kramer

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