Saturday, July 30, 2016

MUSIC WORTH BUYING episode: The Shelters, The Monkees

On the latest episode of MUSIC WORTH BUYING, TJR celebrates the full-length debut from modern-day rockers the Shelters while Robert champions the eagerly-awaited return from the Monkees:

Friday, July 29, 2016

Blues champions unleash musical goods

Blues is not only alive and well in the 21st century, but a slew of recent releases and two outstanding Blind Boys of Alabama reissues showcase the power of the genre to move audiences anew.

Artist: Rich Robinson
Title: Flux (Eagle Rock Entertainmnet)
You might like if you enjoy: The Black Crowes, the Record Company
Tell me more: Rich Robinson's Flux is rooted in the blues and roots rock, but the 13-track disc finds the talented founding Black Crowes guitarist mixing folk, gospel and experimental studio touches along the way. While Flux track listing is eclectic, there is also a cohesive sound and spirit that recalls the greatest of albums. "Music That Will Lift Me" starts as a breezy country-tinged folk ballad, that is lifted first with a powerful guitar solo, and then with an anthemic chorus. The psychedelic-tinged "Eclipse The Night" is the kind of song that Jimi Hendrix might have crafted if he had jammed with Jerry Garcia; "Ides of Nowhere" is an absorbing and completely original rock tune that blends classic rock, prog-rock and Radiohead-worthy touches amidst Robinson's articulate lyrics. Some albums demand to be heard along their entire run, and "Flux" is certainly one of those. Information:

Artist: Tinsley Ellis
Title: Red Clay Soul (Heartfixer Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Robert Cray, Tommy Castro
Tell me more: Armed with a stellar baritone voice, deft skills on guitar and his infectious songs, Tinsley Ellis taps into his Georgia roots across the aptly-titled Red Clay Soul. Ellis has the innate ability to fuse blues with soul and R&B (as evidenced by the emotive "Callin'," "Hungry Woman Blues" and Robert Cray-styled "Don't Cut It"). He can also fuse his Southern fried blues with a rock edge; the straightforward "All I Think About," slow burner "Circuit Rider" and Latin-flavored "Estero Noche" allow him to showcase his gifts to combine authentic riffs and strong lead guitar work. On the catchy "Givin' You Up," Ellis also adds some great blues harmonica work while bringing Oliver Wood (of Wood Brothers fame) in to provide additional guitar and vocals to the memorable track. Information:

Artist: Gary Hoey
Title: Dust & Bones (Provogue)
You might like if you enjoy: Gary Hoey's "Deja Blues," Alvin Lee, Lita Ford
Tell me more: Guitar virtuoso Gary Hoey follows up his 2013 exploration of the blues (Deja Blues) with a potent follow-up, the newly issued Dust & Bones" Kicking things off with the slide guitar-anchored "Boxcar Blues," Hoey kicks things up with his fast-fingered guitar work on the uptempo "Who's Your Daddy" and on the Texas-styled blues rocker "Born to Love You." Other highlights include the probing title track, the rousing "Steamroller" (a tribute to Johnny Winter), and the affecting duet with Lita Ford "Coming Home." A big plus across the disc is that Hoey proves to be a great vocalist too. Information:

Artist: The Blind Boys of Alabama
Title: Spirit of the Century (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: The Blind Boys of Alabama
Tell me more: Originally released in 2001, Spirit of the Century was the most commercially successful of the group's albums to date (quite an achievement, since the American gospel group released its first record in the late 1940s). The deluxe edition of the album recently issued by Omnivore Recordings is the perfect way to rediscover a disc that earned the group a Grammy win for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album. Famed guests such as blues harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite, guitarist David Lindley, and bassist John Hammond add firepower to the group's authentic vocals. The standout on the album is the group's innovative version of "Amazing Grace" that blends that track's iconic lyrics with the music of "House of the Rising Sun." As if the original album wasn't fantastic enough, the new edition features seven tracks recorded live at New York's the Bottom Line in 2001. Information:

Artist: The Blind Boys of Alabama
Title: Higher Ground (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: The Blind Boys of Alabama, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Ben Harper
Tell me more: On Higher Ground, the obvious power of the Blind Boys of Alabama is enhanced by the involvement of Robert Randolph and the Family Band as well as singer-guitarist Ben Harper on several of the selections. Whether singing introspective reworkings of modern favorites (Custis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," Prince's "The Cross") or old-time gospel ("Wade in the Water," "Precious Lord"), there is a exuberant spirit and timeless joy in the group's sound honed since 1944. The liner notes here are very detailed and add insight and understanding to the effort that went into the original 2002 release. Bonus materials on this expanded edition include seven tracks recorded on a "Morning Becomes Eclectic" session featured on radio station KCRW-FM in 2002. Information:

Robert Kinsler

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dead & Company conjure up past glories in Irvine

Dead and Company perform at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre on July 26, 2016.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
EDITOR'S NOTE: Robert Kinsler's review originally was posted on The Orange County Register Web site on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. A special "thank you" to Bob Steshetz for the use of his awesome photographs taken at the performance.
John Mayer performing at Irvine Meadows.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Dead & Company
Where: Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre
When: Tuesday, July 26

What may have started as little more than a one-off tribute to the Grateful Dead in late 2015 has developed into something special. Launched by founding Grateful Dead singer-guitarist Bob Weir and modern-day singer-guitar hero John Mayer, the aptly-dubbed Dead & Company performed a marathon-length performance before an enthusiastic and near-capacity retro-attired crowd at Irvine Meadows on Tuesday night. In addition to those celebrated talents, Dead & Company features founding Grateful Dead members Mickey Hart (drums) and Bill Kreutzmann (drums), as well as bassist Oteil Burbridge and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti

As strong as the troupe was in a headlining tour stop at The Forum last December (READ THAT REVIEW HERE), the Irvine performance easily outdistanced that show. While both performances clocked in at about 3-1/2 hours (including a 40-minute intermission) and each allowed ample time for the band to revisit a plethora of Dead favorites, there was a musical explosiveness that set the outdoor date in Irvine apart. 
Bob Weir at Irvine Meadows.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Opening with the laid-back blues-rock gem "Cold Rain and Snow," Mayer's nuanced lead vocals and sterling guitar work were a perfect fit with the band's loose jam approach. The follow-up song "Jack Straw," allowed Mayer and Weir to share lead vocals; the psychedelic blues vibe allowed the song to build from a more sparse section to a stronger rock 'n' roll finale, with Mayer's speedy guitar leads blending beautifully with Chimenti's fluid playing on a grand piano.

Songs frequently stretched to 10 minutes or more, and while that might not work for simple compositions, Dead & Company's prowess to blend solos amidst intricate textures in involving and hypnotic ways kept things interesting. While blues is at the heart of much of the band's sound, the infusion of rock, jazz, folk, psychedelic and even gospel elements made sure things never got boring.
John Mayer, left, and Bob Weir.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

The Delta blues-tinged "Big Boss Man" was a key highlight of the group's first set, with Mayer proving that even when using a clean (non-distorted) tone on his electric guitar, he could tear it up. Both solos in the song allowed him to showcase his speedy and affecting lead guitar work. The next tune, the New Orleans-styled "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo," was marked by the beautiful vocal harmonies blended by Mayer and Weir. 

The second half of the concert offered just as much magic, allowing the crowd to cheer and sway to the rhythms during potent performances of "Fire on the Mountain," "Dark Star," and a flat-out rocking "U.S. Blues" that closed out the second set.

The memorable and fast-moving encore included a beautiful version of "Brokedown Palace" with Mayer and Weir once again blending their voices as the gospel Americana soundscape played out around them.
Dead & Company at the end of their concert.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

With Weir on lead vocals, Dead & Company wrapped up the magical night with a rollicking cover of Chuck Berry's iconic "Johnny B. Goode," Mayer once again unleashing masterful guitar work while Chimenti pounded away on his keyboards and the talented band of players infused the song with layers of rhythm and textures in true Dead fashion. 

Robert Kinsler

Monday, July 25, 2016

NINA SIMONE film WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? To Be Released On DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD and Digital Formats - September 2, 2016

The very celebrated documentary on the late Nina Simone is set to be released in various formats later this summer. Here is the media release...

Eagle Rock Entertainment set to release
'WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?' Nina Simone documentary to DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD, and digital formats on September 2, 2016
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary at the 2016 Oscars®, Best Music Film at the 2016 Grammy Awards, and winning Best Documentary at the American Film Institute Awards in 2016, documentary film What Happened, Miss Simone? connected with critics and fans alike with its deep examination of the legendary Nina Simone.  On September 2, 2016, Eagle Rock Entertainment will present this film as a DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD, and on Digital Formats, with additional bonus interviews not included in the main film. [MSRP $26.98 Blu-ray+CD, $21.98 DVD+CD]
What Happened, Miss Simone? is the story of Nina Simone’s life and career. Through archive interview and extensive performance footage, alongside new interviews with family, friends and colleagues, the film paints a fascinating portrait of this complex and challenging artist.
Nina Simone was many things: pianist, singer, songwriter, performer, civil rights campaigner, wife and mother, victim of abuse, and black icon. Growing up in the segregated American South, she began to learn piano at age 4, attended the Juilliard School Of Music in New York and aspired to a career as a concert pianist. Thwarted in this, allegedly because of her color, she began to play in nightclubs to earn money and her career as a jazz and blues performer was born. The film follows Nina Simone through the sixties and her intense involvement in the civil rights movement, her decision to relocate to first Africa and then Europe in the early seventies, her emotional difficulties in the eighties, and her later years in France in the nineties.
The CD portion -- Music From And Inspired By What Happened, Miss Simone– includes a collection of songs from across Simone’s career. A blend of studio recordings and live performances, the album includes “I Loves You Porgy,” “Sinnerman,” “Feeling Good,” and her compelling take of “I Put A Spell On You,” among others. The first nine songs were included in the film.
A captivating film about an extraordinary and influential artist, What Happened, Miss Simone unveils the struggles and triumphs of an icon, and further exudes why Nina Simone will continue to be revered for generations to come.
Amazon links:
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) I Loves You Porgy  
2) Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood  
3) I Put A Spell On You    
4) Strange Fruit (Live in New York, 1965) 
5) Sinnerman  
6) Mississippi Goddam (Live In New York, 1964)  
7) Little Girl Blue (Live In New York, 1964) 
8) Don’t Smoke In Bed (Live In New York, 1964)    
9) My Baby Just Cares For Me  
10) Lilac Wine  
11) Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair  
12) Night Song  
13) Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out (Live in New York, 1965)    
14) Feeling Good  
15) Ne Me Quitte Pas

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Veterans return with superb releases

A new two-disc audio title celebrates blues great Walter Trout while the latest disc from alternative rockers Biffy Clyro finds that trio mining new territory. Elsewhere a new soundtrack and an essential reissue provide great listens sure to please discerning fans of an eclectic range of styles

Artist: Walter Trout
Title: Alive In Amsterdam (Provogue)
You might like if you enjoy: Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy
Tell me more: Blues-rock fans who have seen singer-songwriter-guitar great Walter Trout know how powerful he is in concert. Now they can pick up Alive In Amsterdam, a full-length performance captured at Amsterdam's Royal Theatre Carre on Nov. 28, 2015. It is thrilling when Trout opens the song "I'm Back" and is greeted by thousands of cheers (Trout was near death before receiving a life-saving liver transplant in May 2014). Trout delivers one mighty and potent performance after another on "Alive In Amsterdam," with his awe-inspiring electric guitar work a wonder at every turn. In fact, he opens the set with "Play the Guitar," a impressive quick instrumental before launching his band (bassist Johnny Griparic, keyboardist Sammy Avila and drummer Michael Leasure) into "Help Me," a song loaded with searing guitar work and his emotive vocals. Other standouts include the Chicago blues-flavored "Say Goodbye to the Blues" (dedicated to his friend B.B. King) and confessional "Tomorrow Seems So Far Away" and "Haunted by the Night." Information:

Artist: Biffy Clyro
Title: Ellipsis (Warner Bros.)
You might like if you enjoy: Foals, The Kills
Tell me more: Biffy Clyro's singer-guitarist Simon Neil and brothers James (bass) and Ben (drums) Johnston have delivered another album filled with challenging and articulate alt-meets-experimental rock. Ellipsis is a 11-track disc that finds the Scottish band delving into personal issues with songs that span from the tender (the lovely "Re-arrange" and acoustic-flavored "Medicine") to rage ("Wolves of Winter," "On a Bang") and hopeful anthems (especially the spirited "Flammable" and vibrant "Howl"). The tight riffs and melodic choruses always play out in the service of interesting and strong songcraft. Information:

Artists: Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, more
Title: Cafe Society - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Sony Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Benny Goodman, Count Basie
Tell me more: Music from the 1930s and penned by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart is at the heart of the original motion picture soundtrack for the new Woody Allen film Cafe Society. Wonderful instrumentals of "The Lady Is A Tramp," "Jeepers Creepers" and "Have You Met Miss Jones? (the latter filled with sweet guitar work from Chris Flory) are performed by Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks, while a wistful version of "Mountain Greenery" features singer Kat Edmonson. Classic recordings from the titans of the era include a Benny Goodman & His Orchestra performance of "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" and Count Basie & His Orchestra's "Taxi War Dance." Information:

Artist: Velvet Crush
Title: Pre-Teen Symphonies (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Game Theory, Big Star, Three O'Clock
Tell me more: Velvet Crush's Pre-Teen Symphonies is filled with previously unissued tracks that are as infectious as they are authentic, and highlights abound. The 16-track disc opener, a demo of "Hold Me Up," crackles with unbridled indie rock perfection. The melodic "Time Wraps Around You" is heard twice on the disc (via a demo and live performance); both sound terrific and showcase the trio's skills.  The driving power-pop nugget "Not Standing Down" highlights how the Rhode Island-based threesome was able to fuse '60s and early '70s song craft with '80s college rock (think R.E.M. and Let's Active) to carve out its own distinctive style of rock. The last half of "Pre-Teen Symphonies" features eight songs captured live at Cabaret Metro, in Chicago in November 1994 and further celebrates the legacy of Paul Chastain, Jeffrey Underhill and Ric Menck. Information:

Robert Kinsler

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Deep Purple 'Live at the NEC' coming to DVD, digital formats on August 26, 2016

This media release will come as great news for fans of Deep Purple, and especially for fans of the late Jon Lord...Click here to read my review of the band's 2007 concert in Costa Mesa.


~AUGUST 26, 2016~

On September 14, 2002, hard rock pioneers Deep Purple took the stage for a landmark concert at the NEC in Birmingham, England to bid farewell to founding member and keyboard legend Jon Lord.
On August 26, Eagle Rock Entertainment will deliver this very concert with the release of Live At The NEC on DVD and Digital formats [MSRP $14.99]. Previously only available as part of the Around The World Live boxed set, this film is being made available for the first time as a standalone DVD.
One of the most emotional concerts in Deep Purple’s long career, Live At The NEC is a unique experience in that it features both their keyboard players on stage – Jon Lord and Don AireyLord had announced his retirement earlier that year, and Airey was subsequently brought on board. Airey serves as the principal keyboardist throughout the show, culminating in a solo before the lights drop, and Jon Lord appears for a storming version of “Perfect Strangers.” The two share keyboard duties for the rest of the night, in a fitting passing-of-the-torch moment.
At 109 minutes total, Deep Purple (Ian Gillan, Roger GloverSteve Morse, Ian Paice, Lord and Airey) kick out all the classics: “Smoke On The Water,” “Woman From Tokyo,” “Space Truckin’,” “Highway Star,” “Speed King,” “Lazy,” “Hush,” and more. In addition to this fantastic set, Live At The NEC includes bonus interviews with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover.
In addition to Live At The NECEagle Rock Entertainment will also release two more concert films -- Total Abandon and Bombay Calling – on digital formats on August 26.
Amazon purchase link:
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) Fireball  
2) Woman From Tokyo  
3) Mary Long  
4) Ted The Mechanic  
5) Lazy  
6) The Well Dressed Guitar  
7) When A Blind Man Cries  
8) Space Truckin’  
9) Keyboard Solo  
10) Perfect Strangers  
11) Speed King  
12) Guitar Solo  
13) Smoke On The Water  
14) Hush  
15) Black Night  
16) Highway Star