This week, I’m kicking off the column with a review of Brad Paisley’s latest audio-visual package, followed by reviews of two 2016 progressive releases and a look toward future columns.
‘Life Amplified World Tour: Live from WVU,’ Brad Paisley (MVDvisual, ☆☆☆☆1/2)
This live concert DVD and CD/DVD were released in late December, and it’s set to air on PBS tonight. There are probably more songs on this version. Like Marty Stuart and Vince Gill, Paisley is an expert guitarist; and his band is made up of excellent supporting musicians, like fiddle/mandolin/backing vocalist Justin Williamson. The WVU crowd is extremely enthusiastic, including singing along with the famous alumnus.
My favorites of the mostly Brad-written bunch are “Crushin’ It,” “American Saturday Night,” “Water,” “Ticks,” “Letter To Me,” “This Is Country Music” (with a “Mama Tried” quote), the Mountaineer-centric “Country Nation,” “River Bank,” West Virginia’s John Denver theme song “Take Me Home Country Roads” and “Alcohol,” sung from the beverage’s perspective. The CD provides a slightly shorter greatest hits album.
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‘Prog Noir,’ Stick Men (Unsung Productions, ☆☆☆1/2)
‘Live 2, Security Project (7D Media, ☆☆☆☆1/2)
These two releases came out last year, but are forward-thinking and technologically advanced. Stick Men features Peter Gabriel/King Crimson alumnus Tony Levin (stick and voice), Markus Reuter (touch guitars and voice) and Crimson/XTC contributor Pat Mastelotto (acoustic/electric drums and percussion). Their soundtrack-like recording features impressive Crimson-esque instrumental passages, occasionally using vocals. My favorite slices of mood music include the mellow “A Rose In The Sand/Requiem,” the cinematic “Leonardo” and the shifting “Embracing The Sun.”
The Peter Gabriel-related Security Project (Brian Cummings: voice/acoustic guitar, Jerry Marotta: drums/backing vocals, Trey Gunn: touch guitar/backing vocals, Michael Cozzi: guitar/backing vocals and David Jameson: keyboards/eigenharp) recorded this album during early 2015 European tours, as well as USA shows last May. This isn’t a typical live album because this band is dedicated to re-imagining Gabriel’s early material.
“Family Snapshot” leads things off. Other highlights include Jameson’s nifty keyboards, “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” (last release of the Gabriel-fronted Genesis), “Mercy Street” and the up-tempo “On The Air.”
I’m glad that these songs are still being played, and hope this band will continue.
The next few columns will contain a few more new releases, including one from The Black Clouds produced by Jack Endino. Lots of 2016 leftovers will be featured, including a recording from guitarist/vocalist Matthew Curry, an Evel Knevel documentary and a documentary about a film project that wasted much of late film legend Steve McQueen’s fortune.
Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.