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Looking For Johnny: The Legend of Johnny Thunders DVD Review: Even in Death, He Still Slings Six-strings

Spanish filmmaker Danny Garcia unravels the mysterious sadness of a guitar god.
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The Murder City Devils, one of the great outsider rock bands of the past two decades, once sang “Took a city like New Orleans to kill a man like Johnny Thunders / A man who died with a guitar in his hands.” It’s the city as beast slaying Thunders, The New York Dolls' guitarist and former Heartbreakers' front man who even in death still slings six-strings. Named after its subject, the song’s as tough as Thunders whose music couldn’t be pried from his cold dead hands. Solidifying the man’s mythos as he drifts off into death they scream, “And the

Album Review: The Blues Magoos: Psychedelic Resurrection

Psychedelic Resurrection is the first album from garage rock band the Blues Magoos in four decades.
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The psychedelic sound of the late 1960s produced many bands with colorful names and one mainstream hit. The Vanilla Fudge, Electric Prunes, Bubble Puppy, Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Seeds (not a flashy name, but a major group in the genre), and the Blues Magoos. Hailing from the Bronx, the Blues Magoos formed in 1964 as the Trenchcoats, fusing garage rock with a hint of blues. Best known for their hit “(We Ain’t) Got Nothin’ Yet” and the electric suits they occasionally wore onstage, the band’s debut album Psychedelic Lollipop , released in November 1966, positioned the group as the East

Alabama & Friends at the Ryman Review: Celebrating 40 Years

Highly entertaining from beginning to end.
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Alabama was formed in 1969 by cousins Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cook. Over the course of their career, they became the greatest-selling country band of all time by selling over 75 million singles and albums. They peaked during the 1980s when they created 27 number-one hits. The band thought they were quitting for good and put on a farewell tour in 2003. They reunited in 2011 and have been going strong ever since. In celebration of their 40th anniversary, they recorded the tribute album Alabama & Friends and a concert at the historic Ryman Auditorium featuring Luke Bryan,

The Midnight Special Six-Disc Set Review: Offers a Glimpse at 1970s America

Wolfman Jack's celebrated '70s revue sheds light on dim decade.
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Ask me about the 1970s and two images come to mind: Joey Ramone’s jean clad crotch and Alisha “I Love the Nightlife” Bridges proto-punk disco haircut. One’s the soulful height of youth and young manhood while the other’s a glittering image of midlife femininity as it works the dance floor. Yet despite the skin-tight Levi’s versus bell bottom retrospective culture war we’re often treated to, these images are plastered on the same pole at the same of end of the spectrum, for the Seventies were a bleak and miserable decade. A chasm often existed between pop culture’s escapist tendencies and

Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies: Beat Club 4/21/72 Review

Live from Bremen. It's the Grateful Dead.
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On July 17, Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment teamed up to present the annual “Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies” in cinemas nationwide. This year's edition featured Beat Club 4/21/72, a live television-studio performance of the band recorded for a West German TV program during their highly regarded European tour of that year. The band's line up at this time featured lead guitar/vocal Jerry Garcia, drums Bill Kreutzmann, bass Phil Lesh, keyboards Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, rhythm guitar/vocal Bob Weir, and the recent additions of married couple keyboards Keith (Oct. '71) and back-up singer Donna Jean (Mar. '72) Godchaux. They played

Peter Gabriel: Back to Front: Live in London Blu-ray Review

Peter Gabriel and Eagle Rock Entertainment have released another winner.
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Recorded over two nights in October 2013 at London's The O2, Back to Front presents Peter Gabriel in concert during his two-year tour commemorating So, which was played in its entirety. Supported by the musicians that had backed him on the So tour, bassist Tony Levin, drummer Manu Katche, David Sancious, and guitarist David Rhodes, the assembled songs document an outstanding performance of audio and visual delights. Before the show began, Gabriel announced the show would be presented in three parts like a meal, with an appetizer, the main course, and dessert. The appetizer was a short, acoustic set of

Book Review: Overlooked / Underappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention by Greg Prato

Relive the days of leafing through a friend's record collection by reading the rock journalist's new guide.
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Writing a book entitled Overlooked/Underappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention is fraught with difficulty. The selections are based purely on personal taste, and are begging for readers to argue with the author. Yet rock journalist Greg Prato has tackled this challenge in his twelfth book, a work packed with suggestions for your music collection. Remember the experience of leafing through a friend’s records, CDs, and tapes, analyzing albums and recommending bands that (you think) no one knows? That memory mirrors the experience of reading Overlooked/Underappreciated. Covering mostly rock, jazz, R&B, and blues, Prato analyzes each listing using the following

Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano Blu-ray Review: Fans Should Invest in It

They could all be your songs.
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From 2004 to 2009, Elton John served a five-year residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. That evening of music was dubbed The Red Piano. After a hiatus, Elton returned in 2011 for another residency with The Million Dollar Piano, which repeated two-thirds of the previous set list but expanded the number of songs played. Now available on home video, a performance recorded in February 2012 features Elton playing some of his biggest hits alongside a few deep cuts. The show begins with Elton taking the stage in a glittery cape that would have made Liberace proud. During much of

Musical Oddities From the Warner Archive

Two forgotten musicals, a neglected homage, and The Cars, too.
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While Friedrich Nietzsche is perhaps best known today by underread Facebook users as the guy who said "Without music, life would be a mistake," the general idea of such an idiom makes a great deal of sense. That said, however, the combination of music and film has resulted in a venerable slew of items - ranging from movie musicals for the big screen to music videos for television - being produced and quickly forgotten about throughout the better part of an entire century. Prior to television becoming the norm for entertainment, wherein variety shows (another casualty of the passing of

The Who: Quadrophenia Live In London Blu-ray Review: A Stunning Audio and Visual Presentation

A brilliant performance of one of the band's best-loved pieces.
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When The Who first toured for their classic rock opera Quadrophenia back in the 1970s, the technology of the day made it difficult to replicate the album with just the four original members on stage. In 1996, the band brought the album to the concert stage again, this time with additional musicians and singers, including Billy Idol and Gary Glitter. While that tour was a success, when the band — now comprised of just Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey — took the album on the road again in 2012, they tried a different approach, immersing the fans in not only

The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story DVD Review: The Madcap's Rise and Fall

This expanded documentary is a must-have for fans of Syd Barrett and early-era Pink Floyd.
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Syd Barrett’s tragic journey from being the creative force behind Pink Floyd to becoming a virtual recluse in a few short years is explored in The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story, a two-disc reissue of the 2005 documentary. Barrett led Pink Floyd to its early success, then succumbed to a LSD-fueled mental breakdown that resulted in him leaving the band. The documentary traces Barrett’s rise and fall through interviews with friends from his art-school days, bandmates, associates, and one of his girlfriends. There are clips from early videos and live performances as part of London’s psychedelic underground with Barrett

Jurassic Park Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Review: Mondo Releases John Williams' Music on Vinyl

Available on colored and black vinyl for the first time.
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We are obviously big fans of the movies around here, and the soundtracks to those films can be equally compelling. There have been some highly successful soundtracks over the years, but all too often, the music becomes the forgotten child of the big screen. When it comes to a composer as talented as John Williams though, people do pay attention. Especially when he is scoring a Steven Spielberg film. One of the coolest movie merchandise sites around is Mondo, and on June 11, 2014, they are releasing Williams’ soundtrack to Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993) on vinyl. The choice of June

Strictly Sacred: A Film about Girl Trouble Review: The Highlight of SIFF

I believe with all of my heart that you would enjoy this film.
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The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) may not be Cannes, or Tribeca for that matter, but it sure was the place to be for fans of the band Girl Trouble this year. The world premiere of Strictly Sacred: A Film about Girl Trouble was held on May 26 at the SIFF Cinema Uptown in Seattle. I hear it was a great event, but I went to the “second premiere” on May 27 at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center. And I know that one was great. It was great because it was family. The only person who could have made

Billy Joel Says Hello to Hollywood Bowl - 05/17/14

A very satisfying set filled with greatest hits and deep cuts in front of "a pretty good crowd for a Saturday."
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During the first of three concerts scheduled, Billy Joel made his Hollywood Bowl debut and played a set filled with greatest hits and deep cuts in front of "a pretty good crowd for a Saturday." Though I am much more familair with the former, Joel revealed his gifts as storyteller and musician were even greater than I realized as songs new to me kept me captivated in m seat and didn't become opportunities to head off to the bathroom. Right from the opening song, "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway," it was apparent what a talented backing

Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack

A great example of having something for everyone.
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This volume of Dylan’s Bootleg Series is the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, which debuted on PBS as part of the American Masters series on September 26 & 27, 2005. Disc 1 covers the years 1959-65, during Dylan’s Woody Guthrie period when he was the eloquent poet of the people, voicing their anger, fear, hope, and concerns with acoustic folk songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Masters of War,” and “Chimes of Freedom.” The 16 tracks that comprise this disc include early recordings, such as “When I Got Troubles,” which is likely to be the

Little Feat: Live in Holland 1976 DVD Review: Featfans, Rejoice!

There is really no excuse for anybody who likes music to not own this one.
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They call themselves “Featfans,” and are to Little Feat what the Deadheads are to the Grateful Dead. Recently the Featfans networks lit up in a big way over the announcement that Eagle Rock would be releasing Little Feat's Live in Holland 1976, in a DVD + CD package. There is precious little footage of the Lowell George years, and this set adds another 54 minutes to the existing stock. Featfans, rejoice for the group are in their prime here. Little Feat were probably the musician’s band of the Seventies. They never reached the stratospheric sales of Led Zeppelin, and none

Sensation: The Story of Tommy DVD Review: Takes Viewers Behind the Scenes of The Who's Groundbreaking Rock Opera

Learn more about the inspiration of the band's 1969 masterpiece.
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This year marks the 45th anniversary of The Who’s landmark rock opera Tommy, and the celebrations and accolades continue. In 2013, they released a deluxe box set featuring demos, early versions, and live renditions of Tommy tracks; now Eagle Rock has followed suit with Sensation: The Story of Tommy, a DVD/Blu-ray that provides an overview of the album’s creation. An expanded version of the 2013 BBC documentary, the release features new interviews with Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey as well as archival footage of John Entwistle. Casual fans will enjoy the look back on a seminal work, although hardcore fans
In Elton John’s long and storied career, few, if any, of his albums have been as beloved as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Originally released in late 1973, the album spawned several hit singles that remain staples on classic-rock radio to this day. Now to celebrate its 40th anniversary, the album has received the Super Deluxe treatment, in a new box set with four CDs, an interview DVD, and a 100-page hardcover book with rare photos. This review focuses on the four CDs, as that was what was made available. Disc one is the album proper, newly remastered in excellent sound.

Elvis Presley: Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis Legacy Edition Review: The King's Homecoming Concert in Its Entirety

The latest Elvis Presley Legacy Edition release includes two complete concerts from 1974.
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When Elvis Presley played a concert in Memphis, TN, in 1961, few, if any in the audience probably suspected it would be his last concert appearance in his adopted hometown for more than a decade — but it was. After a decade in Hollywood, Presley returned to the live stage in 1969, never to return to movie making, but it took five years for him to return to Memphis. The show was recorded and released in truncated form as Elvis Presley — Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis. Now, 40 years after the original performance, the full show, along with

Eric Clapton: The 1970s Review DVD Review: Between Cream and 461 Ocean Boulevard

Love him or hate him, this DVD tells us pretty much everything that Clapton did during the gloriously decadent decade.
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The video company Sexy Intellectual specialize in unauthorized biographies, such as From Straight to Bizarre: Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper and LA's Lunatic Fringe, Joy Division: Under Review, and Brian Eno: The Man Who Fell to Earth among many others.Their Eric Clapton: The 1960s Review came out last year, and the new Eric Clapton: The 1970s Review is being released today. In the ‘60s, hip Brits were spray painting “Clapton is God” all over England, but I think his career in the ‘70s was far more interesting. This Review fudges the timeline a little, but there is a natural break where

Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (Deluxe Edition) DVD Review: Star-studded, Jam-packed, Mid-career Celebration of One of Rock's Greats

Only Dylan could get so many talented artists to come together and create such incredible music together.
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The 1980s were not particularly kind to Bob Dylan. There were a few highlights including successful tours with Tom Petty and the Grateful Dead (though that grouping has plenty of detractors, the recordings present plenty of great grooves) and 1988 saw the beginning of what is now known as the Never Ending Tour, which has produced many of Dylan’s greatest performances ever. His work with the Traveling Willburys was good and Oh Mercy is a stand-out. But mostly it was a tough decade with rambling, incoherent albums and a great decline in relevancy in popular culture. The beginning of the

Concert Review: The History of the Eagles, The Forum, Inglewood, CA, 01/22/14

"The History of The Eagles" finds the band performing songs from their impressive collection at a high level.
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On Wednesday, Jan. 22, The Eagles began the second week of their six-night stand at Los Angeles' newly refurbished Forum presenting an evening of music entitled "The History of the Eagles." To start things off, founders Don Henley and Glen Frey entered from opposite sides of the stage carrying acoustic guitars. They opened with the deep cut "Saturday Night" off their second album Desperado, signaling that the history of the band wouldn't necessarily be told chronologically. A mandolin could be heard in the mix, but I had no idea if someone was playing it off stage or it was a

The Doors: R-Evolution Blu-ray Review: Your Eyes Can See Them

The program for this evening will be not new to longtime fans, but that doesn't make the collection any less entertaining.
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Over the course of 72 minutes, R-Evolution presents a visual history of The Doors (John Densmore, Robbie Kreiger, Ray Manzarek, and Jim Morrison) through music films, better known today as “music videos,” and television appearances. To paraphrase “The Movie” from An American Prayer, the program for this evening will be not new to longtime fans, but that doesn't make the collection any less entertaining. It opens with two versions of “Break On Through.” First, the classic music film created in January 1967 of the band playing in a darkened room under colored lights. Than two months later, they play to

The Blue Eyes Soundtrack Review: Another Strong Entry in the J.G. Thirlwell Catalog

J.G. Thirlwell's "chamber soundtrack" for The Blue Eyes bodes well for the supernatural thriller.
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J.G. Thirlwell is nothing if not prolific. He has recorded over 30 albums in a variety of styles, under such pseudonyms as Foetus, Manorexia, and Steroid Maximus. He uses his own name for his soundtrack work though, and he has just released the music for The Blue Eyes (2012), which was directed by Eva Aridjis. The Blue Eyes is somewhat obscure, and I have yet to see it. But I have listened to the music, and as a stand-alone recording, I really enjoyed it. In the press release, Thirlwell describes it as a “chamber soundtrack.” It is an interesting distinction,

20 Feet from Stardom DVD Review: An Essential Addition to Any Music Fan's Library

This riveting documentary shines a deserved spotlight on the most unknown MVPs in rock and soul music.
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When recalling the Rolling Stones’ 1969 single “Gimme Shelter,” one thinks of Mick Jagger’s snarling lead vocal. Equally important to the song’s legendary status, however, is Merry Clayton’s passionate performance. Her name may not instantly ring a bell, but her gospel-drenched voice shouting “Rape! Murder! It’s just a shot away” remains instantly recognizable. Clayton and other unsung heroes of R&B and rock music are celebrated in the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, an essential addition to any music fan’s library. Eschewing narration, the film allows the noted backup singers to tell their own stories. The tales they spin are both

Bryan Ferry: Live in Lyon DVD Review: Smooth, Professional Concert Crooning

Bryan Ferry's Live in Lyon live concert DVD features songs from every phase of the crooner's career, respectably performed.
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After a certain age, all British rock musicians seem to funnel into one style of music. It begins gradually (and most often in "solo" careers) - a second guitarist is added to the live band to fill out the sound. Then one or two extra keyboard players come on board, to help sound more like the record. Then, inevitably, the backup singers (usually black and female). Edges are smoothed over. The whole thing begins to sound respectable. David Bowie has had this sound for the last decade, as has David Gilmour. And in Live In Lyon, Bryan Ferry's band goes

DVD Review: '83 US Festival Days 1-3: Essential Viewing for Fans of the '80s

See U2 and INXS in their early years and relive other '80s music in this music festival documentary.
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When hot summer winds blow, music festivals are sure to follow. Today, multi-day events such as Lollapalooza and Coachella are relatively common; back in the early 1980s, such concerts were in their infancy. In 1982, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak sponsored the first US Festival (standing for “United Us in Song,”), an event he envisioned as an '80s version of Woodstock. Staged near San Bernadino, California, the three days boasted an impressive lineup of the era’s biggest artists. Wozniak produced the second and final US Festival in 1983; despite a 670,000 attendance figure, the production lost millions for the entrepreneur. Thankfully

Morrissey 25 Live Blu-ray Review: November Spawned a Monster of a Blu-ray

You're the one for me, fatty.
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OK, it actually came out in late October, but I just watched it and the tagline was too tempting to pass up. Commemorating the first 25 years of his solo career, Morrissey’s new concert Blu-ray serves as a vivid reminder of the towering body of work he has produced. Rather than utilizing a typical arena venue, the concert was filmed in the intimate 1900-seat auditorium of Hollywood High School, an unlikely and inspired choice that adds a visceral energy to the set. Unfortunately, the show gets off to a tepid start with “Alma Matters” and “Ouija Board, Ouija Board”, eliciting

Book Review: The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew Robinson, and Kyle Baker

The graphic novel attempts to tell the story of the Beatles' manager--with mixed results.
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This holiday season has seen an astonishing number of Beatles-related books and CDs, some tying in with the upcoming 50th anniversary of the group’s first visit to America. One figure that remains a mystery, however, is the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein. Through the years he has emerged as a tragic figure, a drug-addicted man tortured by his homosexuality (in the 1960s, homosexuality was illegal in Britain), hopelessly in love with the unattainable John Lennon, and a good-intentioned but ultimately naive businessman. The graphic novel The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story attempts to reveal his life through a cinematic technique—not

CeeLo Green is Loberace: Live in Vegas Blu-ray Review

Skip Loberace and just watch Liberace.
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Oh, Ceelo. I had such high hopes when your disc arrived in the mail. I am a fan of the Goodie Mob, Gnarls Barkley, and your zany ways on The Voice. (Your assortment of different pets is just amazing). I don't know if something was lost in translation from the Las Vegas stage to the screen in my living room, but this show just fell flat. While I appreciate an homage to Liberace, or Lee as many of his fans refer to him, your choice of songs and acts felt like a rehash of old Vegas acts for an audience

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