Archive for November, 2011




Dream Theatre may not ever sell as many albums as Iron Maiden or Yes but clearly they are one of the most innovative progressive/metal bands of the last 20 years.

That is not even up for debate. The reason is simple. They challenge themselves and their fans but remain within the parameters they have set up for themsleves.  Album after album the band tweaks the engine just a bit. 

One look at this stunning blu-ray filmed in 2004 and fans will be reaching for the credit card.

For the rest of humanity you will have to go back the 23 song Once In A Livetime 2cd set back in 1998 to firmly get a grasp on what the band puts out.

Founding member and drummer Mike Portnoy who recently quit the band is on hand in this 2004 film which has some cool bonus features including the mini documentary Riding The Train of Thought and other features on bandmembers gear setups.

The real reason to purchase this is of course the concert show. Outstanding tracks are easily This Dying Soul, Endless Sacrifice and New Millennium.

A unique opportunity for fans new to the band to find out what all the fuss is about. A well balanced setlist will no doubt have new fans checking their past efforts.

Of course a bonafide must have for DT diehards

JOHN EMMS is a musician, a veteran music journalist and radio host



The corporate radio role model of bringing in business people or celebrities to gig the same old run through the same 400 classic rock hits is lame.

But that goes ditto for the biggest flavour of the month

Or the top 40 hits of the second, minute, day or week

Fact is it’s wearing people down.

Heck, this pattern is already deeply established in reality television. And is’ this not great t.v.? Yeah right

The syndication of this is in radio is less choice for fans and less jobs in an industry that once was a major player for new artists

Let’s be fair there are very talanted people in syndicated radio. These people like any industry have to eat, live and have a job in their life.  It’s not the workers who are at fault.  But just as in the print media  merging big business drives bigger profits

 This is trouble for radio music fans.  This syndication and centrilization is  toxic to good taste in music and moronic to intelligent fans who love their music.

Whether it ‘s a diminishing audience who now are only 12 to 20 years old or for older listeners who did get to hear the real deal it’s not good.

In fact, in the days of FM  album orientated  radio DJ’s and programmers were personally selecting and programming their own shows

Internet Podcasting and in some areas community radio has proven a resource for the listener who does not want to hear centralized syndicated radio and a tight strict musical format

I personally select every song on my podcast and in what order it will play. That coupled working with an enginner like Doug Young who really cares works.  Hopefully this gives us both integrity. Doug Young is a great community radio person. 

I try to use my first passion as a fan of music, and my experience as a musician.

It’s working.  We are not gaining 50 million listeners. But it sure is growing

Podcasts and internet radio has also proven it can be a great platform for artists who want to get their music heard in local, regional and international markets via the world wide net.

Personally selecting each song and in what order it shall play lets the show breathe

An ever increasing amout of people from all parts of the world are tuning in. A buzz is going out there.

And this is coming from different countries and religious beliefs.  Heck, what does that mean. Wow.

On a musical  level everything now at radio is aimed at The 3 M’S…mainstreet, mainstream, and mediocrity.

I’m not saying podcasters are breaking new artists every week, but personally I will mix great local  and regional  bands with international acts and it works.

Just remember. Bob Seger in the early days could play to 50,000 people in Michigan and go an other state the next week and only play for 500 people. How could that happen now, I’m not sure but choice is still out there. If you want to hear great choice radio just click

JOHN EMMS is a veteran musician, radio host and journalist




Peter Gabriel New Blood Live in London is the most gorgeous, intricate and detailed blu-ray I have watched this year

Filmed this past year on March 23 and 24 at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo London it captures Gabriel with a 46 piece orchestra under the excellent direction of John Metcalfe.

However, you have to realize this show is very slow paced and that may not sit well with fans of Gabriel’s dynamic shows with his always killer band.

22 songs with stunning orchestra arrangements of classic Gabriel songs  like Red Rain, Biko, the hand clppping Solsbury Hill and the showstoppping In Your Eyes with Sevara Nazarhan, Downside Up with Melanie Gabriel  and Don’t Give Up with Ane Brun will blow you away.

The vocal work is organic and nuanced

The 5.1 mix and orchestra solo’s are gorgeous, but the real gift besides the vocal work is the superb piano nuances of Tom Cawley. Cawley with Gabriel’s vocals are the glue and anchor of this amazing show.

Again, this is not prog rock, art rock or world music with a band. Any Gabriel fan will be very imnpressed. 

Slow and quietly beautiful.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, musician and  radio host




As a songwriter Bob Seger always wrote the songs you wished you had wrote.

Early on, as players we would listen to “Live Bullet’ his live album from 1976 and wanted to play that way.

The passion, the integrity.

In those days you felt you knew Bob personally. You rooted for him.

And oh, let’s not forget the Silver Bullet Band

Both Seger’s Bullet bands later on Nine Tonight 1981 and the 1976 Live Bullet band were working man’s players.

Guitarist Drew Abbot was Chuck Berry on steroids, Chris Campbell’s solid bass work or sax man Alto Reed who has moved on to playing some killer blues just plain rocked and played with soul.

Album after vinyl album still own them all, Seger just  got bigger and bigger.

In fact, his greatest hits package released way back in 1994 became album of the decade in 2010 after selling 9 million copies.

What’s different now? Well a lot more bang for your buck.

You get 26 songs, completely remastered from the original master tapes. 

Cd has  a very cool glossy booklet with memorbillia, those great  lyrics, and tracks like Turn the Page,  Mainstreet, Her Strut, Against the Wind, and Seger’s now  X-mas classic take on the Little Drummer Boy.

More importantly, besides the full on remastering is you get to hear why Mellencamp and Springsteen took Seger’s heartland rock and made it matter writing their own legacy.

A reviewer’s quote about our debut Mining The Blues Cd was along the lines of  “Emms’ songs could easily fit  into the working class Bob Seger songbook and that’s a good thing” 

It made me smile.

Solid buy for 20 bucks or so, without a doubt!

JOHN EMMS is a musician, radio host  and veteran music journalist.














With ambitious songcraft and an eye for lyrical detail James McCartney is above all his own man. That is made crystal clear when you hear this EP collection of 16 tracks that sparkle with texture and feel.

In fact, the longer you listen to what McCartney has done on this 2 disc collection the more the music reveals

Every artist wants to  get it right before the public hears what you are putting out.

But if your dad is Paul McCartney one of the most celebrated songwriters of the century, a batch of songs takes on a different meaning.

But to be perfectly honest James McCartney does not seem fazed.

To his credit, McCartney does not take the easy way through this song cycle created from two digital EP’s and now available as a physical release 

Songs such as Glisten with it’s killer vocal and  moody jangle guitars takes you by surprise with it’s haunting power.  That goes the same for New York Times which sounds more like a crunching mid period solo John Lennon track.

Elsewhere songs like the great pop of  My Friend and the intricate acoustic guitar work on  The Sound Of My Voice reveal gorgeous atmospheric details inside the stereo mix created by David Kahne

It should be noted that McCartney did most of the instrumentation himself  before forming a band halfway through the recording sessions that includes solid work from drummers Shawn Pelton and Bryan Johnson as well as bassist Charlie Turner  guitarist Steve Bayley and some nice cello work from Steven Isserlis

More importantly, all the players contribute in a very organic way with McCartney’s songwriting styles.

The results on the heartfelt Wings of The Lightest Weight, Jesus Be My Friend, I Only Want To Be Alone and his cover of Neil Young’s Old Man are often breathtaking in the overall feel and atmosphere of the EP Collection.   

Even though Paul McCartney is listed as as a co-producer with David Kahne, it’s clear that James McCartney’s vision of his growth as a songwriter and artist is his own.  

I will be featuring more than a few of McCartney’s tracks on my upcoming radio shows

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, musician and popular radio host who’s show has gained steady listeners in all parts of the world.











In every way with Some Girls Live In Texas  ’78 The Rolling Stones with dynamics, showmanship and just pure rock n’ roll heart pretty well show there was no punk, garage, or rock band that could beat them at the game they invented on this night.

With this release due out on Monday Nov 21 you may want your mom to marry a Rolling Stone after you watch this blistering set.

Filmed at the Will Rogers Auditorium in Forth Worth Texas in front of 3000 people The Stones billed under the name The London Green Shoed Cowboys  took a stripped down set up and galvanized the crowd and indeed themselves into a sweat dripping performance.

It has to be said for a lot of younger readers checking this review if you don’t enjoy The Stones in their 12 piece gargantuam form of the last 20 years you defintely have to check out this deluxe blu-ray/cd release.

Although the band offers up no nonsense versions of Chuck Berry’s Let It Rock, Exile on Main Street’s All Down The Line and Honky Tonk Women this show moves into high gear with Star Star “I ain’t Mad at you for giving head to Steve McQueen” through stunning Jagger vocals on When The Whip Comes Down, Beast of Burden and a very hip Miss You.

Ronnie Wood’s guitar work cuts, pushes and breathes fire into Keith Richards’ spanked up guitar riffs and the band sounds reborn with Wood on board. A fired up Charlie Watts and the ever impressive round sound of Bill Wyman’s bass playing (with two fingers bandaged together) under the great new 2011 mix by Bob Clearmountain are a total joy.

If you look and listen you can catch the pounding 88’s from Ian Stewart and all encompassing organ/keyboard work of Ian McLagan for my money one of the coolest players on the planet.

The band reaches peak altitude on the tracks  Respectable, Jaggers’ hip hop influence vocals on Shattered, a fun Far Away Eyes with Doug Kershaw and one of their best versions of Love In Vain that I have heard since the Mick Taylor era.

Indeed I’m not saying there is not any missed notes or off the mic vocals here, but this is a show with an incredible attitude and feel.

The set continues with Happy, Brown Sugar, Jumpin Jack Flash, Tumbling Dice and Sweet Little Sixteen (killer version) but it’s the 8 or 9 track middle of  this dvd that  is bonafide rock n’ roll.

Bonus material is a 2011 interview with Mick Jagger where he is  forthcoming, talkative, friendly and by no means aloof. Basically the kind of interview any journalist including myself would love to conduct with Jagger in this mood.

You also get the three Saturday Night Live performances, 17 track CD, some fun with Dan Ackroyd and Jagger, an ABC 20/20 interview and bonus memorabillia with the cool booklet

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JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist,  and a musician with the Canadian blues rockers THE SHAFTMEN

check out their music worldwide on Spotify, Apple Music and everywhere on the planet



This box set comes on the heels of  the amazing live  9 song cd Live At Grossman’s (1994) which for me is one of the top rock albums of 2011.

On this set the DVD Live at the St. Gallen Open Air Festival 1991 is the interesting item. It is not the high tech gloss dvd/blu-ray one gets used to watching today.

But it is a definite gem and Healey Band fans will love the intimate setting 

Shot from onstage cameras in an unconventional style (for today’s standards) it captures all 3 band members Healey, the powerhouse drumming of Tom Stephen and the agile and rock solid bass work of Joe Rockman in what I like to call “roadie cam”

The absolute killer here is the band’s smoking rendtion of ZZ Top’s Blue Jean Blues, it has to be seen to be believed. The closeup on Healey’s fretboard at the end of the song is jawdropping. Then again the band especially Healey is just getting warmed up.

It’s an afternoon set and like most bands, it seems like the band is waking up along with the audience. The inclusion of both I Can’t Get My Hands On You and Full Circle is very cool and shows the band hitting “Cream” like grooves and dynamics.

Of the 3 cd’s in the package, I do not like the audio mix on the Live at The  Montreal Jazz Fest 1989 at all.

For some reason this cd has a very “board tape”  output which seems muted compared to Live at Grossman’s and the other cd here including Live At The Hard Rock Toronto 1995

The Toronto Hard Rock set packs a wallop, and captures the band with the addition of whom I assume is Pat Rush ( I did not see his name in the booklet)

The Hard Rock set is also very bluesey. The highlights include As The Years Go Passing By, Evil (is going on) and Yer Blues. It’s impressive on it’s own merit, and I recommend it highly.

The genre of Blues Rock has over the years sold literally millions of albums. Cream, ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Humble Pie are just a few names that come to mind from the past.

I have been saying for years. This genre is poised for a big comeback because it is radio friendly.

Personally I think Joe Bonamassa if the timing is right, could be the artist to enter to that hallowed ground.

But, Bonamassa as good as he is needs a hit in the vein of Sunshine of Your Love or Sharp Dressed Man. As it stands his work continues to grow and improve including the outstanding groove of  Black Country Communion.

Besides Bonamassa if you enjoy The Jeff Healey Band check out these artists on Apple iTunes

New music from Canada’s Blues Rockers The Shaftmen, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Walter Trout, and Coco Montoya to name a few

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, a popular blues/ roots/rock radio host and musician.



In a stunning display of musicianship, chops and sheer bravado this blu-ray concert due out November 8 2011 is proof that Deep Purple may be possibly at the height of their powers as a band.  How could that even be possible?

It is simply breathtaking to see the band led by front man Ian Gillan so stoked and lost in the groove backed by a 38 piece orchestra. I don’t believe I have witnessed better versions of Highway Star, Lazy and Hard Lovin’ Man than the ones presented here in glorious high def blu-ray and 5.1 DTS sound.

Guitarist Steve Morse is simply on fire all the way through this show. His solo’s on Knocking at Your Back Door, Rapture of the Deep and his riff work on early songs such as Woman from Toyko and Maybe I’m A Leo are outstanding.

Morse never loses sight that his playing as dominant as it can be is really there to service the song and be a link in the chain led by Roger’s Glover’s inventive and commanding bass work.

Glover lays way down in the pocket or rides high on the neck while delving inside the drumming magic and intensive work of Ian Paice.  Glover, Paice and Morse are simply a joy to watch and listen to.

Keyboard man Don Airey shines so bright that he will never live under the shadow of any organist or keyboard player from any band, just from his performance on this DVD alone.  To say Airey is a galvanizing presence in the ambience of Purple’s overall sound is an understatement. At any point in the show he delivers. 

Don Airey like Garth Hudson from The Band is the glue that binds

Vocalist Ian Gillan is living and breathing the dream. Although noted as a rock “singer” his entire career he has never got the credit for his understanding of how soul singers like Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett worked the nuances of being a great vocalist.

That is, when to sing, when not to sing and what to sing and write about. With this show and his over looked superb studio solo cd One Eye to Morocco Gillan should get his due.

Stephen Bentley-Klein the orchestra leader and the 38 member players don’t just sit in with the band.

No, this orchestra pushes the band and breathes new life into arrangements you have never heard Deep Purple perform in any previous context.

An absoulte must have release for any fan of intelligent rock music

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, musician, and popular online rock radio host who can be heard here

November 2011