Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs Delivers 57 Songs and 1000 Smiles

Laurie Berkner Classic Kids Songs Dennis Russo Critical Blast

When I heard that Laurie Berkner was going to release a 2CD set of classic kids’ songs, I said to myself “This I have got to hear!”

It is no secret that I and my family are bonafide Laurie Berkner fans. Her original children’s songs have made us smile and given us countless memories since we first saw her perform on Nick Jr’s Jack's Big Music Show. Now here we were going to be able to listen to Laurie and her band sing and put her touch on classic children’s songs. This 2 CD set has 57 total songs, which also include 6 of her own (which, in my opinion, are classics as well and certainly belong here).


Heaven Adores You: A Documentary about the Life and Music of Elliott Smith

Heaven Adores You Elliot Smith

It’s impossible to write a review of a documentary about Elliott Smith without it becoming deeply personal.  That’s apt, because his solo career was one of deeply personal lyrics and the intimacy of a man alone with only his guitar.

            I was really interested in viewing this documentary because my knowledge of Elliott Smith was rather limited.  I knew he had a rough adolescence, played in a band prior to his solo act, and had committed suicide.  Also, I was aware that he was struggling with his fame from his career.  On the album EITHER/OR, he sings, “I’m so sick and tired of all these pictures of me/Completely wrong/Totally wrong.”


Building 429 Delivers Praise Music to Raise Your Spirits -- and the Roof

Building 429 Unashamed Dennis Russo Critical Blast

Anyone familiar with Christian Rock today probably knows well the band Building 429. Comprised of Jason Roy (Lead Guitar/Vocals/Keyboards), Michael Anderson (Drums), Jesse Garcia (Guitar/Keyboards/BGVS), and Aaron Branch (Bass/BGVS), their newest album UNASHAMED already has two hit singles getting quite a bit of airplay: "Impossible" and "Ocean Deep."

For those not familiar with them, their name is derived from Ephesians 4:29 which in the HCSB Bible reads as “No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.” They were the Gospel Music Association New Artist of the Year in 2005, and have had many hit Christian songs through the years following, not the least of which was 2012’s “Where We Belong” which set a record for remaining as Billboards #1 Christian Song for an unprecedented 15 weeks.


"Ode To Thinking" Will Have You Thinking You Need to Hear More from Bobby Long

Bobby Long Ode Thinking Dennis Russo Critical Blast

ODE TO THINKING is the newest album from British singer/songwriter/guitarist Bobby Long comprised of eleven original songs, and produced by Mark Hallman.

Bobby hails from London and moved to New York in 2009. A product of the burgeoning English folk renaissance, it is easy to hear the influences of both the home of his birth and that of his home in New York.

I have been listening to a lot of “old school” rock of late, so listening to Mr. Long’s CD offered me a chance to sit back and listen to music that would stir my thinking. Not being familiar with his earlier works, I wasn’t sure what kind of songs I was going to hear given a title such as ODE TO THINKING. What I found after listening to the CD was that the album was aptly named.


What's Going On Gives "Taste" of Blues Rock at its Best

Taste What's Going On Live Isle Wight Eagle Rock Entertainment

Taste, founded and fronted by the legendary guitarist Rory Gallagher, was an Irish blues/rock band, and arguably one of the greatest power trios ever to hit the stage. I would easily put them up there with Cream, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Blue Cheer, Grand Funk Rail Road and The Jimi Hendrix Experience as the best ever; certainly, in my opinion, playing by far the best rock ever to come out of the Emerald Isle. Yes, I said ever –  e.v.e.r – ever, by anyone.

What made them so good to me was the sheer raw energy with which Rory Gallagher played the guitar. He could stand to-to-toe with any other great guitarist. Doubt me? His performance was so well-received at the show that when Jimi Hendrix was asked what it was liked to be the best guitar player in the world, he replied, “I don’t know, why don’t you go and ask Rory Gallagher." Need a better recommendation than that?


Devil To Pay has a song for all the blues and for every blues fan

Kim Simmonds Savoy Brown Devil To Pay Dennis Russo Critical Blast

Savoy Brown is one of the seminal English blues rock bands to come out of the sixties, and are still playing great blues after all these years. Their newest album, THE DEVIL TO PAY on Ruf Records, continues true to form.

Although the line up of the band has seen numerous musicians come and go throughout the years since they started in 1965, with some finding fame in other bands (most notably Foghat)  the band as it is today comprises Simmonds on guitar, vocals and harmonica, Pat DeSalvo on bass, and Garnet Grimm on drums. This kind of intimate lineup is perfect for this kind of music to my eyes, and especially to my ears when the guitar player is a master craftsman like Kim Simmonds.


Santana, McLaughlin Illuminate World of Great Jazz Fusion, Guitar

The Montreux Jazz Festival was started in 1969 by the late Claude Nobs, and is renowned worldwide as one of if not the great Jazz festivals held; everyone who is anyone wants to play at this yearly event. Now, with consent from the festival and the artists, Eagle Rock Entertainment is making these concerts available for the first time on CD.

SANTANA AND MCLAUGHLIN: LIVE AT MONTREUX 2011 is one such concert…and what a concert it is!


KISS is the New Gold Standard for American Rock 'n' Roll

According to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), KISS is now #1 with the most Gold Album Record awards. With 26 albums and 4 solo albums under the KISS brand (released simultaneously), a feat never duplicated, they have earned a total of 30 Gold albums. They have also acquired 14 Platinum and 3 multi-Platinum albums over the years.

A true testament of their longevity that spans across four decades.

From the press release:

“Congratulations to KISS – the new Gold standard for albums by American bands,” said Cary Sherman, Chairman & CEO, RIAA.  “What an extraordinary achievement for an enduring band.  Forty years later and the band is still rocking.  Congratulations to KISS on their Gold album milestone and continued success."


Owning EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER: LIVE AT MONTREUX 1997 Will Have You Saying, "Ooh, What A Lucky Man I Am"

Emerson Lake Palmer Montreux 1997 CD music Dennis Russo Critical Blast

What do Aaron Copeland, Carl Orff, Modest Mussorgsky, and Johann Sebastian Bach all have in common?  They all have music arranged and played by the greatest power trio of progressive rock ever: Emerson Lake and Palmer.

Is there a better opening song to a concert than “Karnevil 9-1st Impression Part 2?” Or better opening lyrics than “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends?" In all my concert going and musical listening, I think not (well, maybe with the exception of Alice Cooper’s “Hello Hooray”); but anyway, how apropos for this band who, even at the time of this show in 1997, had been around, despite a break-up in the early 80’s, for decades?


No Need to Dream On any Longer, ROCKS DONINGTON Delivers Aerosmith To Your Home

Aerosmith Rocks Donington LP DVD review Critical Blast Dennis Russo

The ROCKS DONINGTON 2014 “Limited Edition” set from Eagle Rock Entertainment is a 3 LP/single DVD set of the live outdoor show Aerosmith performed in 2014.

The band consists of the familiar as family line up of:

Steven Tyler

Joe Perry

Brad Whitford

Tom Hamilton

Joey Kramer


Rob Thomas with Plain White T's and Vinyl Station Rocks The Peabody

Rob Thomas on "The Great Unknown Tour" at The Peabody in St. Louis 9/4/2015. Photo Credit: Jeff Ritter

The old adage “good things come to those who wait” was proven true once again on September 4, 2015 as Rob Thomas finally arrived in St. Louis. He had to cancel is tour stop earlier in the summer due to an illness in the family, which is more than understandable. As an apology of sorts for the hassle of having to make folks reschedule their plans, Thomas and his supporting acts, Plain White T’s and Vinyl Station, really cut loose with fun-filled, more-than-your-money’s-worth performance.  Apology happily accepted, Mr. Thomas.


Iron Maiden Pays Tribute to Robin Williams

Iron Maiden is arguably one of the most innovative and influential metal bands in existence. Despite little support from radio or television, they are still considered one of the most successful bands throughout heavy metal history. Known for frontman Bruce Dickinson's piercing vocals, and the bands lengthy musical interludes, their songs often contain dark themes, such as 'Hallowed be thy Name', or historical context like 'Aces High' and 'Alexander the Great'.

According to NME, Dikinson spoke to an Italian publication about what song from the new album BOOK OF SOULS, was his favorite. Unfortunately, the publication was not credited in their article.


STYX LIVE is No Grand Illusion, But The Real Thing!

Styx Live Orleans Arena Las Vegas Eagle Rock Entertainment

STYX: LIVE AT THE ORLEANS ARENA IN LAS VEGAS from Eagle Rock Entertainment is a recording done, as you would guess by the title, live at the venue during the 2014 “Soundtrack of Summer Tour.” What you do not know, and you can’t tell by this review, is that I am writing it totally exhausted -- exhausted because this CD rocks! Really rocks! Because Styx still really rocks!

Normally when I review a record or CD, I sit myself down in the sweet spot of my listening room, have something to drink by my side and listen through the first time just to experience how it “moves” me, and then another time or two in a more in-depth, critical-listening manner.

This CD, however, had me just rocking out not only the first time I played it through, but the next several times over the next couple of days, before I could even get to a point where I could remain seated and put on my critical listening ears, which I even now have to fight (and ultimately fail) to maintain.


Warning: 'Speed of Light' May Cause Extreme Nostalgia

Heavy Metal Band Iron Maiden has released its first official music video to the upcoming album: BOOK OF SOULS.

Titled, 'Speed of Light', the video has their mascot, Eddie, going on a journey through a history of video games as the graphics grow increasingly better. On a quest to collect hearts, he battles his way through each 'level' until reaching the final altar in which he must display his collection. The ending offers a nice little 'heart-wrenching' twist. It's a fun and nostalgic progression through video games and can be appreciated by anyone who has been playing them for as long as they've been around.

The visuals are a treat for any gamer and the accompanying track is pure bonus.


MIGHTY is Mighty Worshipful and Mighty Good

Mighty Kristene Dimarco

Recorded live in Redding, California at Bethel Church, with additional recording at the Soundhouse, MIGHTY did not immediately strike me as a live recording. It was very polished sounding. Oftentimes in live shows the audience sound is immediately heard before and during the performance and usually very much so in Christian recordings. Replete with a full band, strings, and a choir, this album is quite a production, many times giving the songs immenseness.


John Fogerty's 1969 Tour Proves Age Is Irrelevant When You Can Rock

John Fogerty 1969 Tour Photo Credit Jeff Ritter 7/7/15

1969. What does that year make you think of--hippies, Woodstock, Vietnam? If you were a alive and old enough to recognize music you couldn’t have made it through 1969 without hearing Credence Clearwater Revival. John Fogerty, the band’s guitarist, singer and songwriter, was perhaps the most prolific musician ever in a single year. Who else has put out three full albums of all new material in a single calendar year? Not even in the Internet Age does this happen. Credence Clearwater Revival was like a star just bout to go nova—it blazed white hot that year before fading away soon after. Infighting broke up the band and legal battles have kept them from reconciling for decades. Despite the hardships, John Fogerty has endured. He seems pretty happy, just a little more than a month beyond his 70th birthday. He’s got an incredible band on a highly successful tour highlighting the glorious year of CCR and promoting his new book, “Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music” coming out this October.


SPECTRUM Pieces Together a Journey of the Senses for Autism

There's a good chance that if you're reading this, you or someone you know has been touched by autism. It's not often we find ourselves reading about subjects that have nothing to do with us. Only the few seek knowledge in areas they are unfamiliar with, but if not for those select few, we would not gain the wisdom required to understand it better.

If you're one of those people, let me give you a brief introduction to the world of autism.


Enter to Win The Who: Live at Shea Stadium 1982

The Who Shea Stadium 1982 DVD

This contest is over. The randomly selected winnier is SHANNON B. of EMMETSBURG, IA.

The Who's 1982 tour would prove to be their last with Kenney Jones on drums and the band wouldn't do a full scale tour again until 1989. The tour promoted the then recent IT'S HARD album, which had been released in June 1982, and the set list included a number of tracks from that album, some of which the band would only ever play live on this tour.

The main film features the show from the second of their two nights at New York's Shea Stadium on October 13, 1982, with bonus tracks from the first night.

The Who remain one of the finest live rock acts of all time, and this show will be a great addition to any fan's collection.



Outrigger Resorts, Blue Note Entertainment Group Partner to Open Internationally Recognized Music Venue in Waikiki

Blue Note Outrigger Resorts Music Theater Waikiki Critical Blast

WAIKIKI, HONOLULU, HAWAII – Outrigger Resorts is proud to announce a partnership with the iconic Blue Note Entertainment Group, with music clubs in New York, Washington D.C., Milan and two locations in Japan, to bring world-class music performances to Hawaii. Blue Note Hawaii will serve as the state’s premier venue for world-renowned artists, from jazz and blues to Hawaiian favorites.

Located in the former Society of Seven showroom inside Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, Blue Note Hawaii will feature a wide range of musical entertainment – from local talent to international sensations – for limited engagements. As a part of Outrigger’s ongoing commitment to the musical arts, the performance venue will undergo an extensive, multi-million-dollar revitalization, creating a brand new venue in the heart of Hawaii’s most famed beach resort destination. Blue Note Hawaii is expected to open no later than early 2016.


THE WHO: LIVE AT SHEA STADIUM 1982 is finally on DVD!

The Who Live Shea Stadium Bluray Critical Blast

I've been a fan of THE WHO since I was a young boy. No, I'm not straight out of their '60s heyday, but I was bopping around in the late '70s and '80s getting an education in the best rock music from my father. I was exposed to "Tommy" at an early age, heard all their best tunes, knew all about the guys destroying their equipment, and always was amazed when my Dad told me he saw THE WHO open for HERMAN'S HERMITS. Can you imagine seeing one of the most legendary bands in history before they were famous?


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