Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Album reviews: The Turtles, the Beach Boys, the Cult, KISS, 'Ben-Hur' soundtrack

A new crop of releases will allow listeners to rediscover classic '60s-spawned heroes the Turtles and Beach Boys, as well as enduring hard rock icons the Cult and KISS. The soundtrack for the new movie "Ben-Hur" scored by Marco Beltrami rounds out this writer's list of essential new releases.

Artist: The Turtles
Title: All the Singles (Manifesto Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Turtles, the Hollies, the Kinks
Tell me more: Spanning a shimmering cover of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" released in June 1965 to the sweeping baroque pop nugget "Me About You" released in late 1970, the Turtles' lasting legacy is celebrated across the glorious All the Singles. The two-disc, 48-track collection allows plenty of time to explore the Los Angeles-spawned group's radio hits as well as more experimental material that draws comparisons with the Kinks and the Byrds. With Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman's artful and wonderful harmony vocals leading the way, the material ranges from folk-rock (the Warren Zevon-penned "Like the Seasons"), garage rock ("Almost There," "Outside Chance"), power-pop ("She'd Rather Be With Me," "Elenore"), sunshine pop ("So Goes Love," "On a Summer's Day"), psychedelic ("Sound Asleep") and even country ("Who Would Ever Think That I Would Marry Margaret"). The Turtles' 1967 number 1 hit "Happy Together" remains one of that decade's most enticing songs and has never sounded better thanks to the remastering from Bill Inglot and Dave Schultz showcased across this must-have collection. Information: manifesto.com.

Get 'All the Singles' here

Artist: The Beach Boys
Title: Becoming the Beach Boys: The Complete Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean
Tell me more: Lovers of the Beach Boys will want to get Becoming the Beach Boys: the Complete Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions, which is being released by Omnivore Recordings on Aug. 26. The lovingly-remastered recordings on the collection date back to September 1961 when brothers Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson along with Mike Love and Al Jardine shared a microphone together at the home of Hite and Dorinda Morgan to demo recordings eight months before they signed a contract with Capitol Records There are nine songs the young group recorded between September 1961 and March 1962, with multiple demos and versions for each of the songs included here. Listening to the magic and craft of even the earliest takes of "Surfin' Safari," "Surfer Girl" and several obscure songs is to be dazzled that every member of the young group was 20 or younger (Carl Wilson was only 15 when they cut their first demo of "Surfin' "). Fifty-five years into their career, the Beach Boys remain one of modern music's most important architects and a glimpse at the origins of that ride can be found here. Information: omnivorerecordings.com.

Get 'Becoming The Beach Boys: The Complete Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions' on (2-CD Set)

Artist: The Cult
Title: Hidden City (Cooking Vinyl)
You might like if you enjoy: AC/DC, Band of Skulls, the Church
Tell me more: If I hadn't caught the Cult in the band's winning performance opening for Guns N' Roses at Dodger Stadium earlier this month, I might have missed the fact the band issued a new album earlier this year. Hidden City is a superb effort, branded with the band's blend of hard and goth rock. On the band's first album since 2012's "Choice of Weapon," singer Ian Astbury and guitar hero Billy Duffy lead the ensemble through a dozen original songs that deliver on the outfit's past glories while forging ahead. "Dark Energy," "No Love Lost" and the infectious "Dance the Night" rock with unbridled power yet capture the shadowy sonics that have been a part of the group's sound since the 1980s. The Cult is no one-trick pony and explores an expansive and lush modern rock soundscape on the reflective "In Blood." The hypnotic "Birds of Paradise," rocking "Goat" (which recalls the Cult's Electric period) and progressive "Deeply Ordered Chaos" are other standouts on a stunning return. Information: thecult.us.

Purchase 'Hidden City' here

Artist: KISS
Title: Kiss Rocks Vegas (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Kiss, AC/DC
Tell me more: In November 2014, KISS performed a string of intimate shows at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Now, KISS Rocks Vegas captures highlights from those dates via a multi-format release (including DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD and DVD+2LP versions). The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers perform a mix of hard rocking hits and deeper material, including the iconic "Detroit Rock City" (with an impressive twin guitar attack from Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer), hard hitting "Psycho Circus," blazing "Parasite" and an extended version of "Lick It Up" (the latter which incorporates part of the instrumental bridge of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" into its run). For hardcore fans of KISS, the DVD track listing also delivers an acoustic set including a bluesy take on "Coming Home" and folk rock version of the band's ballad "Beth." Information: eagle-rock.com.

Buy 'KISS Rocks Vegas' (Amazon Exclusive) [Blu-ray]

Artist: Marco Beltrami
Title: Ben-Hur: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Sony Classical)
You might like if you enjoy: Rupert Gregson-Williams, Hans Zimmer
Tell me more: Marco Beltrami is not your average composer. The Academy Award-nominated Beltrami has scored a number of eclectic films ("Scream," "3:10 to Yuma," "The Hurt Locker") and provided each with a unique sonic world that fits perfectly with the film. On "Ben-Hur," his soundtrack includes ancient Greek and Roman instruments (aulos, citira, lyres, salpinx) that he has processed electronically so his score blends old and new in an exciting ways that lure the listener at every turn. There are tracks that are simply gorgeous ("Ben-Hur Theme," "Dear Messala, "Messala and Tirzah, "Horse Healer"), and others that are wonderfully tense or haunting ("Carrying Judah," "Brothers Divide"). "Jesus Arrested" recalls some of the otherworldly material released by modern-day group Dead Can Dance, with the mix of a mournful soprano and powerful drumming capturing the intensity of the moment. Information: BenHurMovie.com or SonyClassical.com.

Buy 'Ben-Hur (Original Motion Picture Score)' here

Robert Kinsler

Monday, August 22, 2016

Scarred But Smarter: Life N Times Of Drivin' N' Cryin'

The world is full of amazing artists who deserve to be better known. It's nice to see Drivin' N' Cryin' getting some well-deserved attention...

Scarred But Smarter: Life N Times Of Drivin' N' Cryin'
coming to DVD and digital formats on September 23, 2016 courtesy of MVD Entertainment

The strange true story of legendary Southern alternative rock band

Director Eric Von Haessler spent three years looking for reasons why his favorite band, Drivin' N' Cryin', hadn't enjoyed more national success. With the help of fellow fans Peter Buck, Darius Rucker, Jason Isbell, David Lowery, Ed Roland, Ty PenningtonBlackberry Smokeand others, he uncovers the fascinating, behind-the-scenes story of a band that has spent the last 30 years both creating great music and making questionable career moves. Along the way he finds that Drivin' N' Cryin' is a true rock & roll success.

This documentary film uses album tracks and videos, never before seen performances, interviews from the past and present, along with archival behind the scenes footage to tell the true story of Drivin' N' Cryin'. It's a raw and honest look behind the curtain, warts and all. 

The DVD includes extras with full length live performances, new music videos, and more. "Scarred But Smarter" features interviews and performances from Kevn Kinney, Tim Nielsen, Mac Carter, Dave V. Johnson, Paul Lenz, Jeff Sullivan, Buren Fowler, Sadler Vaden, Peter Buck, Jason Isbell, Darius Rucker, David Lowery, Ed Roland (of Collective Soul fame), Edwin McCain, Blackberry Smoke, Charlie Starr, Ty Pennington, Michelle Malone, T. Hardy Morris, and more!
The DVD can be pre-ordered now at the MVD Shop

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Guns N' Roses and Cult rock Dodger Stadium

gUNS N' rOSES, FROM LEFT, Duff McKagan, Slash and Axl rose. Photo: KATARINA BENZOVA

Review: Guns N' Roses knocks it out of the park at Dodger Stadium

Guns N' Roses, The Cult
Where: Dodger Stadium
When: Thursday, August 18

Axl Rose on August 18, 2016.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
One of the world's best selling hard rock bands of all time, it's no wonder that Guns N' Roses was able to mostly fill Dodger Stadium on Thursday night (the band is also set to perform at the baseball stadium on Friday, Aug. 19). Performing for just under three hours, original members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan backed by a capable quartet of other tattooed players delivered a dream set throughout the aptly-pegged "Not in this lifetime..." themed concert stop.

From the time the band took the stage and opened with "It's So Easy," fans cheered the returning heavyweights. While the "reunited" lineup of GnR performed a warm up show at the Troubadour (where Axl broke his foot) and subsequently performed both weekends at Coachella in April, this night easily outdistanced the band's performance this writer caught at the second weekend of Coachellafest. Not only did Axl look fit and run about all night while hitting all the high notes, the ensemble was locked in and delivered nuanced performances of two dozen or so tracks including all their hits.
A close look at the proceedings going on throughout the night revealed little interaction or obvious camaraderie among Rose and Slash, but it would be hard to argue with the overall power of the band's performance. There was a 20+ year span between the departure of Slash and his rejoining the band earlier this year, but musically the two locked in as if they had never parted. 

After performing "Mr. Brownstone," Rose looked out at the crowd and said: "Los Angeles, my neighborhood. What a beautiful day in the neighborhood." That was about as far from the rock music, bright lights, video images and pyrotechnics that things veered.
The night was all about the big show and highlights came often. A driving "Welcome to the Jungle" found GnR rocking as video images of futuristic skyscrapers raced by behind the band. Slash's distinctive, technically precise, flashy and affecting guitar work was a highlight of that song (and many others this night). Not long later, a cover of Paul McCartney and Wings' "Live and Let Die" incorporated strobe lights, and images of firearms and the sound of gunfire into the song's attack.

Slash, left and Axl Rose on August 18.
But the night's best performances came during the second half of the show, beginning with a potent take on "Civil War," with the song's recorded segment from the film "Cool Hand Luke," acoustic intro and hard-charging rock section questioning the costs of war executed with power. "Sweet Child O'Mine" is among the band's best songs, and afforded yet another chance to see where GnR's music frequently has outdistanced the majority of its hard rock contemporaries. The song's powerful melody, as well as Slash's brilliant guitar work, had everyone temporarily forget about their smart phones and actually pay attention to the group's performance.

GnR's encore was a home run befitting the Dodger Stadium site, including performances of the folk rock original "Patience," a fiery take of the Who's "The Seeker" and GnR's own epic rocker "Paradise City" sending the faithful home with a bombastic finale.

Although the Cult hails from the other side of the Pond, the group provided plenty of good reasons to celebrate their performance on the big stage. Armed with material from a great new album (2016's "Hidden City"), the Cult's singer Ian Astbury and guitar great Billy Duffy led the troupe through a fast-moving set featuring '80s rock favorites ("Wild Flower," "Lil' Devil," "She Sells Sanctuary" and set-ending "Love Removal Machine") and new material ("Deeply Ordered Chaos"). Good news for local audiences is the Cult will perform at Jack's 11th Show at Irvine Meadows on Sept. 23.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Metallica To Release 'Hardwired...To Self-Destruct' November 18th On Their Own Blackened Recordings

Okay hard rock fans, here is a media release worth noting...


Photo Credit: Herring & Herring
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 18, 2016 - (Los Angeles, CA) - Metallica will release their eleventh studio album, Hardwired...To Self-Destruct, on November 18, 2016, via Blackened Recordings. The 2 CD / 2 Vinyl set is the Grammy® Award winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee's first studio album since 2008's multi-platinum Death MagneticHardwired...To Self-Destruct is available for pre-order at www.Metallica.com starting today in various configurations including: CD, Vinyl, Digital, Deluxe, and Deluxe Deluxe Versions. The album is produced by Greg Fidelman, who engineered and mixed Death Magnetic.

"Has it really been eight years?  Doesn't feel like it!  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink," said Metallica's Lars Ulrich.  "We're obviously beyond psyched to share new tunes with all our friends out there.  We've been rockin' along in the studio with Greg on and off for the last 18 months firing up the creative engines again. Putting new music out there, getting in your faces once again and all that comes with it is what we love to do more than anything else, so strap yourselves in ... INCOMING!"

"Hardwired," the first track to be released from the forthcoming album was played for the first time earlier today during a live remote broadcast from Metallica's HQ in the Bay Area. During an interview with Minneapolis rock station 93X discussing the band's performance at U.S. Bank Stadium on August 20th, Lars Ulrich stunned 93X's Pablo by unleashing the incendiary song for the first time, much to the surprise (and delight) of the station, as well as fans around the world. "Hardwired" will be delivered as an instant download to fans who preorder the album.  
Metallica also premiered the official video for "Hardwired" today.  The clip can be viewed HERE.

Metallica will perform this Saturday, August 20, at U.S. Bank Stadium - the new home of the Minnesota Vikings. The band's performance will be the first rock concert at the venue and tickets sold out in less than 10 minutes. Fans can tune in from home via a Pandora live stream beginning at 10 pm EST at http://pdora.co/metallicalive. Individual songs from the concert will also spin on Pandora. To listen, log in to your Pandora account or create a new one for free if you live in U.S., Australia or New Zealand. Fans outside of those countries can access the live stream at www.livemetallica.com

Additionally, in celebration of Saturday's performance, the band will be launching the official Metallica Pop-Up Store in Minneapolis this weekend. The store will have exclusive show merchandise and items not available anywhere else (including inside the stadium) as well as a wide selection of classic Metallica merch. The Metallica Pop-Up Store will be located at 401 2nd Ave North and open on Friday, August 19th from 10:00 AM - 11:00 PM and Saturday, August 20th from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. 

Stay tuned for more details on Hardwired...To Self-Destruct in the coming weeks. 

Regular Album (on CD, Vinyl and Digital formats):

Disc One
1. Hardwired
2. Atlas, Rise!
3. Now That We're Dead
4. Moth Into Flame
5. Am I Savage?
6. Halo On Fire

Disc Two
1. Confusion
2. Dream No More
3. ManUNkind
4. Here Comes Revenge
5. Murder One
6. Spit Out The Bone
Deluxe Version (On CD & Vinyl only):

Disc One
1. Hardwired
2. Atlas, Rise!
3. Now That We're Dead
4. Moth Into Flame
5. Am I Savage?
6. Halo On Fire

Disc Two
1. Confusion
2. Dream No More
3. ManUNkind
4. Here Comes Revenge
5. Murder One
6. Spit Out The Bone

Disc Three
1. Lords Of Summer
2. Riff Charge (Riff Origins)
3. N.W.O.B.H.M. A.T.M.  (Riff Origins)
4. Tin Shot (Riff Origins)
5. Plow (Riff Origins)
6. Sawblade (Riff Origins)
7. RIP (Riff Origins)
8. Lima (Riff Origins)
9. 91 (Riff Origins)
10. MTO (Riff Origins)
11. RL72 (Riff Origins)
12. Frankenstein (Riff Origins)
13. CHI (Riff Origins)
14. X Dust (Riff Origins)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Justin Hayward's 'All The Way' album to be released on October 14, 2016

Cool news for fans of Justin Hayward, the famed lead singer and guitarist of the Moody Blues...

Featuring Material From His Solo Albums and Moody Blues Classics

New York, NY (August 18, 2016)—Eagle Records is delighted to announce the release of the brand new album All The Way via digital formats (as All The Way – Tour Edition) on September 2, followed by a CD release on October 14, 2016. A compilation from Justin Hayward’s solo career,  “All The Way” includes Justin’s solo songs, a recording with The London Philharmonic Orchestra, solo live performances and unique versions of classic Moody Blues tracks and the brand new song “The Wind Of Heaven.” 
Justin Hayward is the possessor of one of the finest and most distinctive voices in melodic rock. Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for The Moody Blues since 1966, Justin continues to perform with the group, and alongside his work for The Moody Blues, he has developed an acclaimed and successful solo career. All The Way brings together many of his best-loved tracks from his work outside the group. From his top ten hit song “Blue Guitar”, included here in its original version recorded with members of 10cc, through his global smash “Forever Autumn” from Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War Of The Worlds and on through tracks from solo albums “Songwriter,” “The View From The Hill”, “Classic Blue”, “Moving Mountains” and “Spirits Of The Western Sky” before concluding with the brand new track “The Wind Of Heaven,” written for the film of the same name, All The Way is the perfect collection for any fan of Justin Hayward.
Pre-order here:
Eagle Rock Entertainment is the world’s largest producer and distributor of music programming for TV, DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital Media. Eagle produces quality HD programs, both concerts and documentaries, directly alongside artists including Imagine Dragons, Paul McCartney, Katy Perry, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, Queen, and Peter Gabriel. Eagle is a multiple Grammy® Award winner and has received numerous multi-platinum sales awards around the world.  Eagle Vision is headquartered in London, and is a Universal Music Group company. 
Follow Eagle Rock Entertainment at:

1) Blue Guitar  
2) Forever Autumn  
3) Broken Dream  
4) Troubadour  
5) The Best Is Yet To Come  
6) One Day Someday  
7) One Lonely Room  
8) In Your Blue Eyes  
9) Vincent  
10) Nights In White Satin  
11) Raised On Love  
12) It’s Not Too Late  
13) The Story In Your Eyes  
14) The Western Sky  
15) The Wind Of Heaven

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Paul McCartney signs worldwide recording agreement with Capitol Records

Who says you can't go home again? When you have sold 500 million records, written some of the greatest songs of all time and were a member of the Fab Four, it is a safe bet to say you definitely "Get Back"!

Historic deal encompasses Paul McCartney's catalogue of master recordings
and welcomes him home to label where he began his extraordinary career

Paul McCartney has signed a worldwide recording agreement with Capitol Records, it was announced today by Capitol Music Group (CMG) Chairman & CEO Steve Barnett.
     "This is genuinely exciting for me," McCartney said. "Not only was Capitol my first U.S. record label, but the first record I ever bought was Gene Vincent's 'Be-Bop-A-Lula' on the Capitol label."
     This historic contract encompasses McCartney's entire body of post-Beatles work, from his 1970 McCartney album, through his decade with Wings, to the dozens of solo and collaborative works that have continually reaffirmed his standing as the most popular, influential and acclaimed artist in the history of recorded music.   In a career that spans six decades, McCartney has sold more than 500 million records worldwide.  He was recently named the United Kingdom's most successful albums artist of all time by the Official Albums Chart Company and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 for his services to music.
     Paul McCartney is the recipient of countless accolades and awards. He is a 21-time Grammy winner, two-time inductee into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, an Academy Award winner and honoree of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors, the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song and France's L├ęgion d'Honneur.     
     McCartney is currently working on a new studio album, while a comprehensive plan for the artist's catalogue is being conceived by Capitol and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) - in conjunction with the artist and his management team - and will be implemented beginning July 2017. The catalogue moves to Capitol/UMe from Concord, Paul's previous label partner on such
Grammy-winning albums as Band On The Run (Best Historical Album, 2012), Kisses On The Bottom (Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, 2013) and Wings Over America (Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package, 2014).
     According to Barnett, "Paul McCartney's association with Capitol has long defined so much of our historic legacy, and all of us here are extremely proud and honored that he has chosen to come back home.  Paul's indelible contributions to our culture are second to none, and his constant evolution as an artist and performer continues to inspire and enrich the lives of countless millions of people.  We are overjoyed that Paul will be creating new music for years to come, and that Capitol will be helping to present it to the world."
     Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, said: "It would be simply impossible to overstate what an honor it is to welcome Paul back to Capitol. It's a homecoming of one of the greatest musical artists of all time to the label that first helped bring his incredible music to the world.  Paul's astonishing career has shown no limits -- in creativity, in commercial longevity, and in its impact on people and cultures in every corner of the globe.  We are thrilled at both Capitol and UMG to be able to contribute to the next chapter in Paul's extraordinary career."

     Michele Anthony, UMG's Executive Vice President of U.S. Recorded Music added, "Paul's vital and legendary body of work as a solo artist remains essential, relevant and so highly in demand.  We're beyond thrilled at the opportunity to put the global resources of Universal Music behind Paul's forthcoming work, as well as introducing his previous iconic albums to new generations of fans around the world. "