Friday, January 29, 2016

REVIEWS: David Bowie ('Blackstar'), The Jam, Jaco Pastorius, Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Hackett, Grateful Dead

Music lovers have a wealth of new releases to celebrate including David Bowie's inspired Blackstar and a number of new multi-format titles now available.

Artist: David Bowie
Album: Blackstar (Columbia)
You might like if you enjoy: David Bowie, Radiohead
Tell me more: David Bowie celebrated his 69th birthday on January 8, 2016 with the release of his 25th studio album Blackstar. Only two days later the legendary artist was dead following an 18-month fight against cancer. Whether it was his Ziggy Stardust alter-ego and "Berlin era" masterworks that gave rise to classics such as “Heroes” or his 1983 commercial return “Let’s Dance” and seminal hard rock foray Tin Machine, Bowie was never one to repeat himself. And that couldn’t be more true than the sonic territory explored across BlackstarMasterfully blending rock, jazz, art damage and electronica, Bowie has left the world with a final masterpiece. This is an album that reveals its moods, textures and depths with each new listen. The ambitious 10-minute title track, stunning "Lazarus" and propulsive disc-ending "I Can't Give Everything Away" are among the instantly-affecting songs. Information:  

Artist: The Jam
Title: About the Young Idea (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Blur, The Clash, Paul Weller
Tell me more: About the Young Idea is a package that gets it right. Chronicling the Jam's story via a great 90-minute documentary as well as a wealth of bonus features and a previously-unreleased concert film (a 1980 performance on Germany's "Rockpalast"). The story of singer-guitarist Paul Weller, bassist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler is fully delivered via classic footage and photos, as well as historic and recent interviews with the members of the band, producers, journalists and fans. The second disc of the collection features a 80-minute appearance notable for the potent delivery of one driving rocker after another, the trio's energy and power is showcased via the formidable "Going Underground," wistful "Private Hell," melodic folk rocker "Liza Radley" and confessional "But I'm Different Now." About the Young Idea is available on Blu-ray, DVD, as a deluxe edition (which includes a 40-page hardback book, two DVDs and an audio CD featuring the 1980 "Rockpalast" concert) and via digital. Information:

Artist: Jaco Pastorius
Title: Jaco (Iron Horse Entertainment / MVD)
You might like if you enjoy: Pat Metheny, Robert Truillo, Geddy Lee
Tell me more: Both players and lovers of the bass guitar recognize Jaco Pastorius with the same level of respect that electric guitar aficionados hold Jimi Hendrix. Now the story of Pastorius is celebrated via Jaco, an important movie produced by Metallica bassist (that fills disc one) Robert Trujillo, as well as ancillary materials including interviews with Joni Mitchell, Carlos Santana, Geddy Lee, Bootsy Collins, Flea and historic performance footage to shed light as part of a much-deserved tribute to the legendary Pastorius (who passed away in September 1987 at the age of 35). "Jaco" is available on Blu-ray or DVD. Information:

Artist: Ritchie Blackmore
DVD Title: The Ritchie Blackmore Story (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Deep Purple, Rainbow, Ritchie Blackmore
Tell me more: Few rock guitarists loom larger than Ritchie Blackmore. A talented and highly-influential guitar great who was a skilled studio player in the 1960s before joining Deep Purple and leading Rainbow in the '70s and '80s, the 70-year-old English musician has since gone on to enjoy a second career as a Renaissance-styled folk project Blackmore's Night. On the newly-released The Ritchie Blackmore Story (available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital, as well as a deluxe edition), Blackmore life and work is explored with interviews with the guitarist as well as a long list of illustrious admirers including Brian May (Queen), Steve Lukather (Toto), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Jon Lord (Deep Purple) and many others, along with classic performance clips. Information:

Artist: Steve Hackett
DVD Title: The Man, The Music (Wienerworld)
You might like if you enjoy: Porcupine Tree, Genesis, Steve Morse, Yes
Tell me more: The aptly-titled The Man, The Music is a documentary that looks at progressive rock guitarist Steve Hackett's rich life and career, which includes his key role as a member of Genesis (including during the recording of "Selling England by the Pound" and "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway), and through recent times with his own "Wolf Light" and the Genesis Revisited project. "The Man, The Music." features archive and recent interviews with Hackett, as well as rock notables including Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Chris Squire (Yes) in one of his final filmed interviews and long-time producer Roger King. Of special interest to guitarists is an intimate look as Hackett reveals some of his electric and acoustic guitar techniques. Information:

Artist: The Grateful Dead
Title: Fare Thee Well
You might like if you enjoy: The Grateful Dead
Tell me more: Deadheads from all over the globe flocked to Chicago's Soldier Field in late June and early July 2015 to catch the surviving four core members of Grateful Dead (Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir) join forces with Phish frontman Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti to perform as part of a 50-year anniversary celebration of the Palo Alto-spawned Grateful Dead. Now the final show of that so-called Fare Thee Well concert (staged on July 5, 2015 and almost 20 years after the death of Jerry Garcia) is out as a deluxe 2 DVD/3 CD set. "Fare Thee Well" includes the complete 18-song concert, with stunning 5.1 surround and stereo audio mixes bringing the magic of the concert to the home theater in full-fledged fashion. Classics performed include "China Cat Sunflower," "Truckin'," and "Touch of Grey." Information: and

Robert Kinsler

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