Category Archives: Music

Have no fear of the dark with “Iron Maiden: Album By Album”

Required reading for all Iron Maiden fans, Album By Album is a compendium of in-depth, entertaining and profusely illustrated conversations about all sixteen of the legendary metal band’s studio albums.

Now ready: Iron Maiden: Album By Album (Voyageur Press, $30), from prolific rock journalist Martin Popoff, pays tribute to the Iron Maiden’s studio discography through a series of in-depth, frank, and entertaining conversations about all 16 of the legendary heavy metal band’s studio albums. Inside, the author gathers together metal journalists, authors, and musicians, who offer insights, opinions and anecdotes about every release.

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Maiden’s fan base is large, diverse and enduring, and that goes for the line-up Popoff assembled to break down each Maiden studio release. Among those weighing in are musicians Marty Friedman, Mike Portnoy, Matt Heafy, Nita Strauss, Ahmet Zappa and former Maiden singer Blaze Bayley. Rocker and pro wrestler Chris Jericho is here, along with journalists “Metal” Tim Henderson, Rich Davenport, Jimmy Kay and other metal and Iron Maiden experts.

Together, the conversations comprise a unique historical overview of the band, covering everything from early albums with original lead singer Paul Di’Anno; the songwriting of founder and bassist Steve Harris; the impeccable talents of drummer Nicko McBrain and guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers; mega tours undertaken in support of the albumss; fights and drama within the band; and much more.

The resulting insights, opinions and anecdotes explore it all, starting with the band’s debut at the vanguard of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to breakthrough iconic releases like The Number of the Beast and Powerslave. Popoff also includes loads of sidebars that provide complete track listings, details on album personnel, and information on where and when the albums were recorded. Every page is illustrated with thoughtfully curated performance and offstage photography, as well as rare memorabilia.

“HELP!: The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration” is the fascinating story of how creative cooperation inspired two of the world’s most celebrated musical acts

The Beatles and Duke Ellington’s Orchestra stand as the two greatest examples of collaboration in music history. Now, Duke University musicologist Thomas Brothers delivers music to our ears (and eyes):  HELP!: The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and the Magic of Collaboration (W. W. Norton & Company, $27.95), the fascinating story of how creative cooperation inspired two of the world’s most celebrated musical acts. It’s a portrait of the creative process at work, demonstrating that the cooperative method at the foundation of these two artist-groups was the primary reason for their unmatched musical success.

While clarifying the historical record of who wrote what, with whom, and how, Brothers brings the past to life with photos, anecdotes, and more than thirty years of musical knowledge that reverberates through every page, and analysis of songs from Lennon and McCartney’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” to Billy Strayhorn’s “Chelsea Bridge.” HELP! describes in rich detail the music and master of two cultural leaders whose popularity has never dimmed, and the process of collaboration that allowed them to achieve an artistic vision greater than the sum of their parts.

What was really behind The Beatles’ “White Album”? Read “Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru”

Susan Shumsky spent 20 years travelling the world with The Beatles’ spiritual guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (who inspired many of the songs) and lived in the Indian Ashram where The Beatles wrote theie White Album.

With The White Album’s 50thanniversary approaching, it’s also time to welcome Shumsky’s Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru. The book not also reveals the unknown meanings and inspiration behind the album’s lyrics, but is bursting with new material on the scandals, rows and breakdowns that erupted during this dramatic episode.

Maharishi & Me is a strikingly candid memoir of a young girl’s journey to an Indian ashram, where she became part of the spiritual movement led by famous Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Shumsky exposes the fascinating, at times disturbing, truth behind the Transcendental Meditation movement–one of the most famous spiritual movements of the twentieth century–and its leader, spiritual guru to the stars, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Maharishi first set foot in America in 1959, kick starting the spiritual revolution that brought meditation to the West. By 1968, the world’s press were at the gates of his Indian ashram, hunting the ultimate scoop on the Beatles’ spiritual adventure there.

Shumsky reveals the inside truth behind the sex scandals, drug smuggling and mental breakdowns that were reported in one of the most dramatic episodes in the Beatles’ history.

From staying in spooky, abandoned Nazi hotels to dealing with fellow meditators’ suicidal episodes, rumors of the great “celibate” leader’s sex scandals, and accusations that Maharishi poisoned his own guru, Shumsky exposes the truth. She also offers a hard-hitting glimpse into the impact of the often bullying, intimidating and threatening behavior of the movement.

In a moving, highly insightful way, the book depicts how it feels to enter yourself into a master-disciple relationship–the ecstasy and the dangers–as well as what eventually made her decide to break away from this.

 

An early holiday gift comes from MPI Home Media: “Pat Boone and Family: Christmas & Thanksgiving Specials”

We love Pat Boone! he looks great (he’s 84) and an early holiday gift comes from MPI: Pat Boone and Family: Christmas & Thanksgiving Specials. Boone, one of the top 10 recording artists of all time, brings us into his home to be entertained by him, wife Shirley and his four singing daughters—Debby, Cherry, Lindy and Laurie– in these music and comedy specials that first aired on ABC in 1978 and 1979.

The Christmas show includes classic holiday songs and comedic moments with the hyper-charged Hudson Brothers plus stars from ABC’s Three’s Company, Happy Days and The Love Boat, as well as appearances by songbirds Dinah Shore and Rosemary Clooney. And Yogi Bear!

The Thanksgiving special features Bob Hope and the Hudson Brothers, who join the Boone girls for a disco dance floor showcase. Among the heart-warming songs performed by Pat, Debby and the sisters are “Can’t Smile Without You,” “You Needed Me” and “Bless This House.” The DVD is packed with bonus material, including The Pat Boone Family: Christmas in Bethlehem, Christmas carols and a Boone family photo album.

We lights up our life!

“Queen: Song By Song” proves why the music and magic lives on

There must be more to life than this. There is. Welcome Queen: Song By Song ( Voyageur Press, $30), the thoughtfully curated and gloriously illustrated retrospective of Queen’s studio releases, with a diverse cast of musicians, journalists and more, discussing and dissecting the making of each album. Perfect timing indeed: The book is hits shelves just in time for the 45th anniversary of their debut LP and the upcoming feature film biopic.

Queen Album by Album

Formed in 1970, Queen went on to become one of the most popular—and most successful—rock bands of all time. Even following the untimely death of beloved and magnetic frontman Freddie Mercury, and nearly 50 years after their formation, interest in the band has continued, evidenced by scores of reissues, arena tours with surviving members, and the upcoming feature-film biopic.

In this new installment in Voyageur Press’s Album by Album series,  Martin Popoff convenes a cast of 19 Queen experts and superfans to discuss all 15 of the band’s studio albums (including their soundtrack for the 1980 film Flash Gordon). Among the cast of musicians, journalists and music industry pros exploring Queen’s recorded output are Paul McCartney, Dee Snider, Dave Ellefson, Queen producer Mack, Derek Shulman, Jeb Wright, Daniel Nester and many other experts. The results are freewheeling discussions delving into the individual songs, the circumstances that surrounded the recording of each album, the band and contemporary rock contexts into which they were released.

The engaging text of this beautifully designed book is illustrated throughout with rare live performance and candid offstage photography, as well as scads of rare Queen ephemera.

The Album by Album series is a unique approach to the rock bio, injecting the varied voices of several contributors. The results have even the most diehard fans rushing back to their MP3 players (or turntables) to confirm the details and opinions expressed.

A sampling of St. Martin’s Press new releases . . actors, rock ‘n roll, cake and the biggest liar since Nixon

Fear not.
There’s another great book  about Adolph Frump: Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Screams, and Occasional Blackout of an Extraordinary Presidency($28.99). CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett  shares his unique insider’s perspective in this authoritative and entertaining account of the most important and wide-reaching events of the asshole’s first year in office. Mr. Trump's Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Screams, and Occasional Blackouts of an Extraordinary PresidencyAs Entertainment Weekly wrote in a preview of the book, “CBS News’ Major Garrett is a more careful journalist than Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff, but the conceit of his book—the first year in the Trump White House—is similar enough to have us plenty intrigued.”


Just because we can’t stand him doesn’t mean William Shatner shouldn’t have even more attention paid to him. After a brief health scare in 2016, the veteran actor offers one piece of advice to live a long and good life: Don’t die.
Live Long And . . .: What I Learned Along the WayIn Live Long And…: What I Learned Along the Way, he uses a combination of pithy humor and thoughtful vulnerability to reflect on his unique and fascinating life. Booklist says, ” . . . fans will enjoy Shatner’s musings on his passions and adventures.”


Just how much does Jeff Bridges like his friend, Gary Busey’s, new book? “Get to know Gary Busey, who once told me he was an angel in an earth suit. Indeed he is, giving us messages he’s received from on high, messages that inspire and support us in living a beautiful fulfilled life. Get to know my dear friend Gary Busey, read Buseyisms.”
Professional actor and semi-professional wildman Busey has done more things in his life, ranging from the impressive to the insane, than most people have done in ten lifetimes, and he’s still going.

Through it all, Busey has kept a positive outlook, even as he’s endured more extreme highs and lows then one would think possible. He’s rubbed elbows with cinema legends, partied with the rich and famous, and even toured with a hit band. It’s all in Buseyisms: Gary Busey’s Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth ($24.99), along with some sage words from a real character.


Regarded as one of the greatest drummers of all time, Kenney Jones has seen it all, played with everyone, and partied with all of them. He’s enjoyed the highs, battled the lows, and emerged in one piece.
Let the Good Times Roll: My Life in Small Faces, Faces, and The WhoLet the Good times Roll ($29.99) is the long-awaited memoir of the legendary drummer’s life and times in the bands Small Faces, Faces and The Who. Jones has penned a breathtaking immersion into music past that leaves readers feeling as if they lived it too.SS moving memoir from one of ESPN’s top football reporters, Kirkus Rviews says that Adam Schefter’s The Man I Never Met “is affecting not only for the story it tells of how the author learned to honor his wife’s husband as ‘the fifth member of [his] family,’ but also for how it shows a man growing into a mature understanding of the true meaning of love and sacrifice.” The Man I Never Met: A Memoir|
Super Bowl-winning coach and author Tony Dungy calls  “a story every American should read” and New York Times bestselling author Mitch Albom hails this memoir as, “A fresh and triumphant take on the aftermath of 9/11.”


The duo behind Delicious Poke Cakes and Delicious Dump Cakes is back with another book of quick and easy desserts. Delicious Bundt Cakes: More Than 100 New Recipes for Timeless Favorites
In Delicious Bundt Cakes, ($19.99), Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore unlock the secret of the Bundt cake. The book features more than 100 recipe—made completely from scratch, as well as recipes based on boxed cake mixes—and color photos throughout, along with all the hints and tips you’ll need to make a spectacular Bundt cake every time.  Chocolate Peanut Butter Tunnel Bundt Cake anyone?

The musical secret among people like us? Think “The Us Generation: The Making Of the 1982 Us Festival” 

And the beat goes on . . .

The Us Generation: The Making Of the 1982 Us Festival
 is an in-depth look at one of the most influential music festivals of all time. The Us Generation is from award-winning filmmaker and rockumentarian Glenn Aveni, who is also the film’s director. Co-directed by Jay Cederholm and Produced by Bruce Gibb and Rich Schmig, the film blends rare concert footage and insightful interviews with both organizers and performers.

The film tells the story of the groundbreaking 1982 Us Festival, an epic three-day event featuring an eclectic and unprecedented lineup boasting some of the biggest names in music, performing live in front of over one million people at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California. The Us Festival was the brainchild of Apple visionary Steve Wozniak, who wanted to create something that was a true celebration of Americana, cultivating positive vibes and building a deep sense of community through the power of technology and music.
Highlights include performances by chart-topping superstars, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, alt-rock trio The Police, blues rock heroes Fleetwood Mac, guitar virtuoso Carlos Santana, retro-chic favorites The B-52s, and new wave icons The Cars; as well as archived appearances by Johnny & Joey Ramone, Carlos Santana, Sting, Ric Ocasek, Danny Elfman, and Fred Schneider; plus exclusive sit-downs with festival founder Steve Wozniak, Mick Fleetwood, Eddie Money, Marky Ramone, Kate Pierson, Stewart Copeland and Mickey Hart.

Just one listen, and you’ll know why Audra McDonald will “Sing Happy”

There’s a reason Audra McDonald’s new CD is titled Sing Happy (Decca Gold), the live performance of the New York Philharmonic’s 2018 Spring Gala starring the Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-winner, conducted by Andy Einhorn. Recorded live on May 1 at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, the recording represents McDonald’s first collaboration with Decca Gold–as well as her first solo recording with full orchestra.

Sing Happy

Sing Happy features many songs that are either new to McDonald’s repertoire or have never before been recorded by her–such as “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles,Vanilla Ice Cream” from She Loves Me, and “Children Will Listen” from Into The Woods–and offers a sneak peek at the repertoire she’s performing on her upcoming North American concert tour.

Acclaimed by The New York Times as a “one-of-a-kind musical super-talent,” Audra McDonald has won a record-breaking six Tony Awards, making her the most decorated performer in American theater. The singer and actress was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2015 and received a 2015 National Medal of Arts—America’s highest honor for achievement in the arts—from President Barack Obama. McDonald is currently starring in the CBS All Access drama The Good Fight and has a series of concert dates throughout North America on which she’s presenting many of the songs from Sing Happy. In addition to her work on stage and screen, McDonald is noted as a passionate advocate for equal rights, LGBTQ causes, and underprivileged youth.

 

Renee Fleming’s new CD, “Broadway”, reminds everyone why she is a goddess

She is a goddess. Really.
Currently wowing audiences with her Tony-nominated performance in Carousel, Grammy-winning soprano Renée Fleming has released Broadway (Decca Classics), a CD celebrating musical theatre. The album features a diverse array of  songs for the stage by composers including Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Pasek & Paul, and Rodgers & Hammerstein, as well as a special guest duet with the Hamilton, television and film star, Leslie Odom, Jr.

Says Fleming, “The great, classic Broadway musicals were central to my childhood. I sang Eliza Doolittle twice before I was even out of high school. This repertoire is so rich, and the sheer quality of the music is so high, that it’s been a joy to record these songs. And along with the growth of popular music, the sound of musical theater has evolved over time. Composers like Jeanine Tesori, and Pasek and Paul, and even popular music icons like Sting, have enriched the genre. It’s a living art form, enjoying a real boom right now, and it was a thrill for me to be able to include phenomenal songs that are absolutely current.”

The new recording features a wide range of Broadway hits from the ’20s to the present, in sumptuous orchestrations, many commissioned specially for this album.

Among the songs are “The Sound of Music”, “The Glamorous Life” from A Little Night Music; “Tell Me on A Sunday” from Song and Dance; “Wonderful Guy” from South Pacific; “Fable” from The Light in the Piazza; and “So Big So Small” from Dear Evan Hansen. Fleming’s collaborators include Rob Fisher as music supervisor and conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra, as well as the incomparable bassist and jazz great Christian McBride, rising star pianist Dan Tepfer and Grammy-winning producer David Frost.

Listen closely: Listen and you will understand why she is a goddess.

 

Sony Classical releases important Oscar Levant Box Set

At the height of his popularity, Oscar Levant was the highest-paid concert artist in America. He outdrew Horowitz and Rubinstein, with whom he shared the distinction–rare among classical pianists–of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He performed under conductors including Arturo Toscanini, Sir Thomas Beecham, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Fritz Reiner and Eugene Ormandy, and was the definitive interpreter of his friend George Gershwin.

Levant’s 1945 recording of Rhapsody in Blue with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra topped the Billboard classical chart and remained one of Columbia Records’ best-selling albums for a decade. That classic interpretation and all his other recordings for the label, spanning the years 1941 to 1958, have now been collected in a new Sony Classical eight-disc box set.

The vast majority of them are appearing for the first time ever on CD, in a 10″ x 10″ fully illustrated 124-page hardcover book. The book contains previously unseen photographs and images of facsimile documents and covers. The edition sees the first ever release of Levant’s own composition Blue Plate Special, which only exists in his 1947 recording and would otherwise have been lost forever. It reflects his compositional style and musical eccentricity at its best. The other world premiere is Levant’s recording of Bach’s Partita No. 1, the only example of him playing Bach. According to his daughter Lorna, the Partita was a piece Levant loved and played often at home.

Levant’s Columbia recordings, on which his fame as a pianist has always been based, began with Gershwin, as they do in this new Sony complete collection. From 1942 there are the Concerto in F with André Kostelanetz conducting the New York Philharmonic along with the Three Preludes. That applies as well to the 1945 Rhapsody in Blue with Ormandy, which is also here, of course, together with the famous 1949 recordings of theSecond Rhapsody and “I Got Rhythm” Variations with Morton Gould and his Orchestra.

Among the other CD premieres are Levant’s 1949 recording of Honegger’s charming Concertino with Reiner conducting the Columbia Symphony Orchestra as well as many solo performances from the 1940s and 50s of pieces by Beethoven (including the “Moonlight” Sonata), Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Copland (selections from the ballet Billy the Kid, arranged for piano by Lukas Foss). There is also a track of Levant playing his own music, a jazzy, almost manic little piece called Blue Plate Special, recorded in 1947.

Another rarity is taken from Warners’ 1946 movie Humoresque, one of the few films centered around classical music. Franz Waxman received an Oscar nomination for his original score and arrangements. The young violinist hero is portrayed by John Garfield, his wealthy older lover by Joan Crawford, his confidant and pianist by Oscar Levant, and his violin playing by Isaac Stern. The movie climaxes with one of the glories of 40s cinematic kitsch. As she listens to the strains of Wagner’s Liebestod being played by the Garfield character on the radio, the distraught Crawford character drowns herself in the Pacific. On the soundtrack, it is Stern and Levant who are revelling in Waxman’s irresistibly schmaltzy Wagner arrangement for violin, piano and orchestra. No Oscar Levant set would be complete without it.

“In some situations I was difficult, in odd moments impossible, in rare moments loathsome, but at my best unapproachably great.” Music lovers now have an unprecedented opportunity to judge Oscar Levant’s self-adulating, self-abasing appraisal for themselves.