All posts by alanwp

“American Experience: The Great War” offers promises made that have been long forgotten

It was a war whose participants were to “make the safe for democracy”. That has been largely forgotten.

Drawing on the latest scholarship, including unpublished diaries, memoirs and letters, American Experience: The Great War (PBS Distribution) tells the rich and complex story of World War I through the voices of nurses, journalists, aviators and the American troops who came to be known as “doughboys.”

The three-disc set, featuring the voices of Campbell Scott, Blythe Danne and Courtney Vance, will be available on DVD May 16; the program will also be available for digital download.

Can’t wait? The Great War premieres Monday, April 10, through Wednesday, April 12, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS.

The series explores the experiences of African-American and Latino soldiers, suffragists, Native-American “code talkers” and others whose participation in the war to “make the world safe for democracy” has been largely forgotten. The program also explores how a brilliant PR man bolstered support for the war in a country hesitant to put lives on the line for a foreign conflict; how President Woodrow Wilson steered the nation through three-and-a-half years of neutrality, only to reluctantly lead America into the bloodiest conflict the world had ever seen, thereby transforming the United States into a dominant player on the international stage; and how the ardent patriotism and determination to support America’s crusade for liberty abroad led to one of the most oppressive crackdowns on civil liberties at home in American history.

It is also a story of little known heroism and sacrifice (including the deadliest battle in American history) that would leave more than 53,000 men dead on the battlefield and more than 60,000 dead from disease. American fatalities would come at a critical time in the war, but they would be dwarfed by a cataclysm of violence that would ultimately claim 15 million lives.

 

Is Kendra still on top? Seasons four and five tell-all, now in a DVD set

Not every girl next door in a former Playboy model. Unless you’re Kendra W. Baskett. No, the “W” does not stand for “wonderful” but “Wilkinson”, her maiden name before she hooked up with and married her husband, Hank Bassett. He’s now makes the transition from NFL football player to business man   and she’s balancing motherhood and her business ventures.

And so they star in Kendra on Top in, as some call it “the shocking reality series that follows America’s favorite reality queen.” In the newly released Kendra on Top: The Complete Fourth & Fifth Seasons (MPI Media Group), After the scandal that nearly ripped her marriage apart, Kendra aims to strengthen her relationships both in her career and at home.

Unexpected opportunities in London and Australia re-ignite an urge in her to be wild and free, but when she returns home, she’s faced with the possibility that her wild antics may have forced her marriage to reach its breaking point. Rumors of a tell-all book, a possible Girls Next Door reunion, and an odd music video make this the one series you don’t want to miss. See it all in seasons 4 and 5!

Universal music has the Brain to release ‘The Brain Box–Cerebral Sounds Of Brain Records 1972-1979″

It’s a no-brainer. Founded in 1972, German label Brain now commands a status and reputation among listeners and collectors all over the world that would have been unimaginable at the time. Today, it is regarded as one of the most important label outlets for German rock music of the ’70s, a genre generally referred to as krautrock, although the term hardly does justice to the range of styles covered by these groups and their records. In any case, it was coined by the English media and only became popular as an afterthought. Brain first used it in May 1974 in an advertisement in Musikexpress magazine for their “Kraut Rock” compilation. The label licensed international acts and albums right from the start in order to expand its portfolio.

Now, for the first time, the story of the label is revisited in depth, thanks to UMe. Set for release on April 21, The Brain Box–Cerebral Sounds Of Brain Records 1972-1979 contains 8 CDs and a total of 83 songs. The set is completed by a 76-page hardcover book with extensive information about the label as well as photographs and artwork; it also includes a Brain tote bag featuring their iconic logo. The collection was compiled by Mark Powell, who also provided the English liner notes. The German introduction was written by krautrock expert Andreas Dewald. Grobschnitt icon Eroc was in charge of remastering. The Brain Box can be pre-ordered here: brainrecords.lnk.to/CerebralSounds.

The general sense of upheaval and the revolutionary spirit of the late ’60s–politically, socially and artistically–began to create exciting results in the German music scene. Amon Düül II and Can released their first records; Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream pushed the boundaries of electronic music; Ihre Kinder and Floh De Cologne sang in German. And in 1969, journalist Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser launched the now equally iconic Ohr label, followed by Pilz and Kosmische Kuriere. However, soon two of his employees, Günter Körber and Bruno Wendel, got so irritated by the increasing eccentricity and LSD experiments of their boss that, in late 1971, they decided to quit and set up their own label under the umbrella of Hamburg-based company Metronome.

Some Ohr acts, such as Embryo, Guru Guru and Klaus Schulze, went with them and were soon joined by many more on their new label Brain: Jane, Cluster, Grobschnitt, Os Mundi, Thirsty Moon, and Emergency, to name just a few. Following the departure of Günter Körber around 1975 (he went on to start Sky Records), the label lost its driving force and headed in a more commercial direction. Today most of the repertoire is part of the Universal Music catalog.

 The first five CDs in this set are dedicated to German bands–from The Scorpions, Gomorrha, Sameti, Yatha Sidhra, Satin Whale, RMO, Eroc, Harmonia, Schicke Führs Fröhling, Liliental and Anyone’s Daughter with their four-part track “Adonis,. The sixth CD contains material from international records, including tracks by Steamhammer, Spyro Gyra, Atomic Rooster, Alexis Korner & Snape, Gryphon, Dutch group Light, Locomotiv GT from Hungary, and Finish band Tasavallan Presidentti and their guitarist Jukka Tolonen.

 A particular highlight of this box is the first-time release of the two “Brain Festival Essen” double albums, which first came out in 1977 and 1978 respectively, and during which the label presented its bands exclusively on a big stage and then on record: established acts such as Jane, Guru Guru, Novalis and RMO, as well as bands that were new at the time, including Gate, Message, SFF, To Be, Blonker and the Norwegian jazz rock five-piece Ruphus, which closed the event both times. These two albums mark the perfect documentary finish to an extraordinary label history which is always worth exploring.

 

Cohen Film Collection releases a trio of Claude Chabrol masterworks . . .oui! oui! oui!

Once again, Cohen Film Collection has released, for the first time in HD, a collection of films by Claude Chabrol, one of the most prolific and widely respected of French film directors.  As one of the prime instigators of the French New Wave, Chabrol directed lean narrative films whose keenly observed realism typically drew inspiration from the suspense film and psychological thriller. The triumvirate of films include:

Betty
In one of Chabrol’s darkest dramas, Marie Trintignant gives an astonishing performance as Betty, a woman whose alcohol-soaked life has finally fallen to pieces.  She fortunately falls under the care of an older woman (Stéphane Audran) with a similar background, but her benefactor’s sympathies may be misplaced. Gushes the Chicago Sun Times: “One of the most eerily disturbing and mesmerizingly powerful films.”

Torment (L’Enfer)
Based on a script by Henri-Georges Clouzot, Chabrol explores the point at which jealousy and obsession turn to madness.  François Cluzet plays Paul, a young husband who, along with his beautiful wife (Emmanuelle Béart at her sexiest) runs a country hotel.  Paul soon becomes obsessed with his wife’s flirtations, but is it all in his head? Roger Ebert’s take? “Made with the practiced ease of a master.”The Swindle
Isabelle Huppert and Michel Serrault star as a couple of small-time con artists looking for the next big game in this psychological thriller tinged with wry humor.  Into their web stumbles a naïve financial courier (François Cluzet) accompanying what might be their biggest score yet.  “Disturbing, compelling, and very smart stuff”, says Entertainment Weekly.

The greatest mystery in Arctic exploration history has been solved! Meet Paul Watson and the “Ice Ghosts”

Deep-sea mysteries continue to baffle us. Take the case of Sir John Franklin. For nearly 170 years, the mystery of the lost expedition of Franklin has been the greatest cold case in the history of Arctic exploration. In 1845, Franklin and the crews of the HMS Erebus and Terror set out to discover a path to the Orient through the icy waters of the far northern latitudes. They were never heard from again.

Preserved: The mummified returns of one of the crew members of John Franklin’S 1845 expedition

From 1847 to 1859, no fewer than 36 expeditions set out in search of the vessels. Each effort was met with icy silence. The fate of Franklin and his men remained shrouded in mystery until, in missions that blended new technology and faith in traditional Inuit beliefs, the ships were at last discovered—the Erebus in 2014 and the Terror just last year.

In Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition (W. W. Norton & Company, $27.95), Pulitzer Prize–winning author Paul Watson takes readers on an unforgettable journey into the unforgiving North in search of the vanished Franklin and his crew of 128 lost souls. Watson was on the icebreaker leading the mission that discovered the Erebus in 2014, and he broke the news of the discovery of the Terror in September.

Ice Ghosts achieves what solution to a long-standing mystery does: The nook masterfully weaves together history and contemporary reporting in a full account of these events, which, as Watson reveals, only found success when longtime prejudice against Inuit forms of knowledge was set aside. Watson chronicles how local Inuit contributed to the hunt for the ships and how Inuit lore passed down orally for generations was crucial to making discoveries for the ages.

A riveting mystery story as well as a tale of scientific innovation and relentless pursuit, Ice Ghosts is that rare book that seamlessly marries gripping adventure narrative with intrepid analysis. It is an epic adventure readers will carry with them long after the final page is turned.

 

“The Joshua Tree” turns 30, and U2’s world tour begins May 12. Good luck getting tickets!

To think three decades have passed since the release of U2’s fifth studio album The Joshua Tree reminds us that (a) we are all getting old and (b) an anniversary edition of the iconic record needs to be released.

That’s what’s being done by Interscope Records on June 2. Alongside the 11-track album, the super deluxe collector’s edition includes a live recording of The Joshua Tree Tour‘s 1987 Madison Square Garden concert; rarities and B-sides from the album’s original recording sessions; as well as 2017 remixes from Daniel Lanois, St Francis Hotel, Jacknife Lee, Steve Lillywhite and Flood; plus an 84-page hardback book of unseen personal photography shot by The Edge during the original Mojave Desert photo session in 1986.

In January of 2017, Rolling Stone dubbed the album their “1987 masterpiece… Thirty years ago, the wild success of The Joshua Tree transformed U2 into the biggest band on the planet.”

Whew!

Released to universal acclaim on March 9, 1987 and featuring hit singles “With Or Without You”, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Where The Streets Have No Name”, The Joshua Tree went to No. 1 in the U.K, U.S., Ireland and around the world, selling in excess of 25 million albums, and catapulting Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., “from heroes to superstars”, according to Rolling Stone.

Time put U2 on its cover in April 1987, proclaiming them “Rock’s Hottest Ticket” and the 12 months that followed saw U2 create indelible moments including the traffic-stopping Grammy Award-winning “Where The Streets Have No Name” video on the roof of a Los Angeles liquor store, and go on to win a BRIT Award and two Grammys, including Album of the Year,  their first of 22 received to date; as well as a triumphant return home for four unforgettable shows in Belfast, Dublin and Cork in the summer of 1987.

The Joshua Tree was produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. Recording took place in Dublin at Windmill Lane Studios and Danesmoate, the house which subsequently became bassist Adam Clayton’s home.

Full details of all formats are available at http://www.u2.com/news/title/the-joshua-tree-at-30

The Joshua Tree original track listing is as follows: Where The Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, With Or Without You, Bullet The Blue Sky, Running To Stand Still, Red Hill Mining Town, In God’s Country, Trip Through Your Wires, One Tree Hill, Exit and Mothers Of The Disappeared. 

The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 opens in Vancouver on May 12, 2017, kicking off a run of stadium dates across North America and Europe, including U2’s first ever U.S. festival headline appearance at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival this summer.

 

 

“Military Medicine: Beyond the Battlefield” goes to the forefront of advances in military medical care

 

ABC News Correspondent Bob Woodruff, who was critically injured while covering the War in Iraq in 2006 and was saved by the advances in military medical care, brings his personal understanding of the issues to his role as host and correspondent of Military Medicine: Beyond the Battlefield. “The goal is not only to save lives, it’s to return the wounded to the lives they want to live,” says Woodruff.

Military Medicine: Beyond the Battlefield (PBS Distribution)  tells the stories of the men and women who are at the forefront of the medical frontier winning victories for military personnel and civilians. The documentary reports on the doctors and surgeons treating survivors returning home to resume their lives and recover from sometimes critical injuries.

The documentary will be available on DVD March 21.

More than 5,300 U.S. service members were killed in action during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts in the years between 2001 and 2014. But of the thousands of severely wounded who made it to combat hospitals, 96% came home alive. The program reveals the lifesaving measures implemented as a result of these wars–including faster medical evacuations, the creation of critical care air transport teams that turn planes into flying intensive care units, and the increased use of tourniquets. Military doctors who have treated wounded troops abroad and at home explain how military medicine has changed over the past 15 years.

Using the best science and technology available, the physicians and scientists in military medicine work to improve the lives of America’s wounded, as well as their families. Woodruff takes viewers inside laboratories, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers, where military medical advances and technology are making artificial arms with life-like responses, 3-D printing new organs, adding robotic arms to wheelchairs, and giving damaged legs new strength.

Woven throughout the documentary are the personal accounts from active duty troops, veterans, civilians and military families who share how medical advances are both saving and changing their lives. Among the stories presented is that of retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Padilla, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Padilla participated in a trial of a robotic prosthetic arm that uses implanted sensors to stimulate movement. Thanks to this groundbreaking technology, he can bend his thumb and play ball with his children, neither of which he could do with his first prosthetic arm.

In terms of numbers, the biggest medical challenge for the military is treating service members with brain injuries like retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Elana Duffy, who is dealing with memory loss and other symptoms of a traumatic brain injury she sustained while serving in Iraq in 2005. Specialized clinics, such as one at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, featured in the documentary, are helping service members identify and heal from these invisible wounds.

The program also delves beyond the medical aspects of medicine. Considered a special “healing place” by veterans is Richard’s Coffee Shop in Mooresville, N.C. In operation for more than 20 years, the place offers free coffee for veterans and an opportunity for them to connect every Thursday.

“I think Richard’s Coffee Shop is some of the best military medicine around,” says retired Staff Sgt. Dale Beatty, who lost both of his legs while serving in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Army National Guard. After recovering, Beatty co-founded Purple Heart Homes, an organization that provides housing solutions for disabled veterans.

There is still much to be done beyond the battlefield. “You know it goes back to George Washington’s phrase—and I paraphrase now — that ‘the extent to which future generations will serve is directly proportional to how they see the current era veterans being treated,’ ” Woodson explains. “And so, if we don’t treat them well, if we don’t welcome them back into communities and embrace them and fully support them, we put our future national security in jeopardy.”

Deborah Cox may (or may not) be starring in the musical take of “The Bodyguard”

Deborah Cox is drowning in good reviews, starring as fictional musical legend Rachel Marron in the stage musical The Bodyguard. Yep, it’s the same role Whitney Houston played in the 1992 flick of the same name.

Those wishing to see where and when Cox performs the role should visit thebodyguardmusical.com, and take note of the warning on the website: Please note that Ms. Cox is not scheduled to appear at all performances. Please check the venue website and ticketing agency for each city for the schedule. The producers of The Bodyguard cannot guarantee the appearance of any particular artist, which is always subject to illness and holidays.

Yet you can listen to Cox, now that Broadway Records’s president Van Dean and Deco Recording Group have announced that Deborah Cox: I Will Always Love You will be released digitally and in stores on March 31. The album is currently available for pre-order at BroadwayRecords.com and Amazon.com.

I Will Always Love You is an 8-track EP featuring the most requested songs from the smash-hit musical, including such iconic fan favorites as “All the Man that I Need”, “I Have Nothing” and “I Will Always Love You.”

Says the 42-year-old Cox: “I’ve always been a fan of the songs in the movie so it has been a dream to perform them on stage every night. This project was born out of continuous requests from my fans and people who have seen me in the show. They wanted to have something with me singing these songs so I listened and went to work putting this EP together.”

Natalie Merchant celebrates a 30-years career, on tour and with a box set

Thirty years old, and Natalie Merchant’s career seems as young as ever. So does she.

Catch what we mean when Merchantl tours the U.S this summer in with Natalie Merchant: 3 Decades of Song.  In anticipation of a forthcoming career retrospective boxed set on Nonesuch, Merchant’s concerts will span her three-decade recording career, with songs from both 10,000 Maniacs and her solo albums. A string quartet joins Merchant and her regular band for the shows. A portion of the proceeds from Natalie Merchant: 3 Decades of Song will be donated to the organization Food & Water, which champions healthy food and clean water for all.

In high school yearbook, and in 2005

Nonesuch most recently released Merchant’s Paradise Is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings in 2015. This collection of all-new recordings revisits Merchant’s multi-platinum solo debut, Tigerlily, originally released in 1995 following her departure from 10,000 Maniacs. The release was accompanied by a documentary DVD.

Her career began in 1981 when, as a college student, she joined the seminal alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs, which signed to Elektra Records in 1984. As lead vocalist, lyricist, and sometimes pianist, Merchant released six critically acclaimed studio albums with the band, including the platinum-certified In My Tribe (1987), Blind Man’s Zoo (1989), Our Time in Eden (1992), and MTV Unplugged (1993). She left the group in 1993, and in 1995 released her multi-platinum solo debut, Tigerlily, followed by the platinum Ophelia (1998) and Motherland (2001).

In 2003 she independently released an album of traditional and contemporary folk music, The House Carpenter’s Daughter, which also coincided with the birth of her child. For the next seven years she lived quietly in New York’s Hudson Valley devoting herself to family and community, while taking opportunities to collaborate with other musicians and strengthen her commitment to activism and philanthropy.

In 2010, Merchant returned with a thematic double album, Leave Your Sleep, her debut for Nonesuch Records. For this meditation on childhood and mothering Merchant set 19th- and 20th century American and British children’s poetry to music. She also collaborated with award-winning children’s book illustrator Barbara McClintock for a picture book based on the album. In 2014, Nonesuch released Natalie Merchant, her sixth solo album and first of entirely original songs in thirteen years, which the New York Times called a “set of dark, brave, thoughtful and serenely startling songs”.

Merchant remains dedicated to a wide array of social justice and environmental causes.  Recently, she spearheaded the making of the protest concert film Dear Governor Cuomo (2013) with New Yorkers Against Fracking, actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo, and filmmakers Jon Bowermaster and Alex Gibney, and she directed and produced SHELTER: A Concert Film to Benefit Victims of Domestic Violence (2014).

Visit her tour dates here nataliemerchant.com/calendar

 

Consider Tyce another bat out of hell. That’s a compliment. Read on . . .

For the record, whenever Van Dean, President of Broadway Records, speaks, we listen.

“I first heard Tyce sing Steinman in a concert in New York and knew immediately that he was a rare talent who could pull off these extraordinarily difficult to sing songs and make them his own,” Dean says. “It’s no surprise that Steinman trusted Tyce with his material and we are excited to unveil Tyce’s debut album to the world.”

Indeed. Every so often a new artist comes along with a debut album that not only raises eyebrows, but curiosity in that the songs are so perfectly matched with the talent. In Tyce’s case, with today’s release of his debut Broadway Records album, Hero, his voice is perfectly in sync with the celebratory music and lyrics of noted Meatloaf collaborator Jim Steinman.

No ordinary talent would ever dare to record such treasured songs as “Holding Out For A Hero,” “Total Eclipse Of The Heart,” “I’m Gonna’ Love Her For Both Of Us” and “Braver Than We Are,” without the imprimatur of wordsmith Steinman, who was catapulted to international fame and renown with the debut album from Meatloaf, Bat Out of Hell.

Tyce is the first male vocalist to have recorded with Steinman since Meatloaf. Says Tyce: “I also fit Jim’s original vision of a young blond, honorable, noble-boy, that he first had in mind when he wrote Bat Out Of Hell.”  (Steinman is currently prepping the musical Bat Out Of Hell which opens June 5 in the U. K.)

Bravely produced and boldly re-imagined by Zak Lloyd (with Tony Heyes as executive producer and Nicky James as producer), with Steinman’s blessing, the album features nine Steinman-tracks; plus seven bonus tracks. Don’t be fooled, these tunes perfectly balance Steinman’s original vigor with a twist of modern.

Tyce, who has long been key player in the Broadway community and recently appeared at last year’s Rockers On Broadway event (performing Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” to a rapturous reception) services Steinman’s work with a bold, fresh take and a passion that immediately demands an audience.

Tyce first met Steinman after honoring him at a special concert in New York City. A surprise performance followed, with Tyce receiving a standing ovation after singing “Bat Out of Hell” in its 9-minute 51-second entirety in the original key. This was the first time the song was ever officially performed live since the Meat Loaf rendition. From there, it was kismet and a new interpreter of Steinman was born and reborn, for Jim.

We give Jim the last words. He calls Tyce “brilliant! virtuosic!” and gushes again over Hero: “It was like you wrestled with a fire-breathing dragon and came out on top!”