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Music Review: Styx, Gary Moore, Paul Rodgers, Black Label Society, and Elvenking

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For reasons not that obvious to me I have decided that it might be the time to dive in the copious pile of DVDs I have to review. 

DVD Reviews

Styx & the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland: One with Everything

Much of Styx's music is composed rather than written and has a symphonic edge to it. This is quite an impressive DVD of Styx hits with two new songs along with it being Blu-ray (previously released on normal DVD). The band seem to meld rather well with the Orchestra/Choir with none of the awkwardness that you seen on other such outings. It's quite a site to see this gig and hear it in the glory of Blu-ray and HD.

Of course there are all their great hits played with oodles of pomp and flair. Laurence Gowan continues to eradicate the memory of Dennis DeYoung with both his keyboard playing (on a rotating stand to boot) and excellent singing. Those of you into your extras will enjoy the Quake cam which follows the drummer, the extra interviews and if you watch it around Christmas time the two Xmas songs. (Thankfully not included in the proper gig to annoy at other times of year.)

If you enjoy Styx, you will enjoy this and anyone with a taste for stadium rock should have a look. Blu-ray just seems the perfect thing for the pomp of a band like Styx. If you have yet to buy a music DVD for your new player this might be a good one to enjoy your system in all its glory.

Gary Moore & Friends: One Night In Dublin

It's subtitled “A Tribute to Phil Lynott” so you quickly realize this is gonna be very Thin Lizzy heavy. Gary Moore is a cracking guitarist, no matter what he turns his fingers to, whether it be blues or heavy rock. This night saw him taking the lead vocal and the lead in paying tribute to his ole’ mucker and band-mate Phil Lynott. He was joined by ex-Lizzy types Brian Downey, Brian Robertson, Scott Gorham and Eric Bell. No sign of John Sykes who has been fronting the new version of TL currently touring (and annoying more than a few Thin Lizzy fans).

It was originally filmed on Lynott’s birthday back in 2005. Now released in glorious Blu-ray this is a great collection live Lizzy tracks. Gary Moore does an admirable job living up to the vocals in front this partisan Dublin Thin Lizzy crowd. It’s a fitting tribute to the great man and the band was on fire throughout, whomever was playing the licks with Moore. Each former member played individually with Gary. Notes on the night were written by Dave Ling.

If you wanna gripe, it might be the weak selection of extras included on this Blu-ray. It's merely a collection of interviews, no extra tracks. I enjoyed this and suspect you will too.

Paul Rodgers: Live in Glasgow

Let's see. Paul Rodgers, voice of Free, Bad Company, Free and The Firm plus his own solo stuff, released a DVD of a gig in Glasgow that featured his son (who sounds just like him) opening for him. The producers of this DVD would have to work very hard to fail with that package. Chuck in a tight as they come band with Howard Leese on guitar and its pretty much a dead cert.

And disappointingly, as I am a critic, it lived up every inch to what you would expect. Even the extras are pretty good with his son doing a track, a decent length interview with the man himself (questions weren’t even daft), and an interview with the band.

The music is an impressive as you would expect from this uber-talented man. Rodgers is good at letting the music do the talking and he does a nice selection of tunes from his entire career. He is every inch the consummate blues rock vocalist and shows why he is thought of as such. Whether just him and a guitar or with his cracking band the guy just oozes class.

There is no need to list the highlights because it's one big highlight. One of the best concert DVDs I have seen and pretty much a classic.

Black Label Society: Skullage

This is a release from BLS so you can expect a certain level of professionalism and value for money. Actually they have really outdone themselves with this CD/DVD set, the collector's edition it says. There is one hell of a lot of stuff on here to sink your teeth into that tells the tale of Zack & Co up until now. It’s a history of the band as told through songs, lives performance and videos.

What I most enjoyed is the never been released “Slightly Amped” live performance with Zack, a guitar, his bandmate on guitar and him singing his guts out. Beer can clearly be seen in the not-so-slick video shot. They say that any good song has to be able to be sung acoustically and the versions of “Blessed Hellride”, “Spoke on the Wheel”, “We Live no More”, and “Stillborn” surely speak to this notion.

The CD is meant to be a bit of a “best of” release for the band. It must have been a bit of a bastard to compile as pretty much of all of BLS’s output is pretty damn good. Included on the DVD is an interview selection called “Welcome to the Compound” for those who care to listen to the man speak instead of play with all his might.

Hairy, lairy biker metal never sounded or looked so good.

CD Reviews

Elvenking: Two Tragedy Poets

They come from Italy and sound like they are Irish. On this release they cover a Belinda Carlisle track and make it power metal, and it works quite well. Now you, a metal-head, can sing along without looking rather lame. Gone are the pop sensibilities and in comes a power metal vibe that sounds a bit like early Helloween.

The band specialize, like Helloween and Iron Maiden, is exceedingly catchy choruses that inexplicably catchy and clever. They seem to have truly nailed the art of making power metal sound fresh and enticing. To further prove their chops they break up the flow of this album with a set of acoustic tracks in the form of “The Winter Wake” and “The Wanderer”. Imagine Blackmore’s Night sung by a bloke instead of Candice Night and you are fairly close.

I must confess to having never heard this band’s material before this release. I have to say that I rather like them. They seem to be able infuse their metal with equal parts talent, humor and a lack of pretentiousness. If you have never checked this lot out this might be the CD you want to find.

Well that is your lot for this week. As always stay safe and rocking, check out live music where ever and whenever you can.

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