Archive for December, 2011


BIG BUSINESS MUSIC BLU-RAY-john emms picks his fave blu-ray, dvd, concerts, and music docs of 2011


BLU-RAY, DVD concerts and music documentaries continue to be a huge entertainment source for consumers and music fans worldwide. It’s big business and as an experienced music  journalist and musician I’m here to tell you about my faves this year

Heck, even players love to watch this stuff. I have interviewed many top selling artists who love to watch other artists for the sheer joy of it. 

Old footage is being restored and new shows have amazing visuals and DTS Master Audio or HD/5.1 surround sound that will blow you out of the room. You also may have noticed Eagle Rock Entertainment and Sony are at the the top of the heap of the blu-ray music revolution.

 Sony has turned out some killer NEW blu-ray concert product.  Eagle Rock has a huge selection of old and new stuff and overall a lot of Eagle’s remastering on older material is bang on. Eagle Rock has also been working with some of the world’s biggest names in all genres and believe me there is a huge fanbase for this type of product

Of course on the other side of the coin you see some bargain non authorized blu-ray/dvd stuff that is just horrible. I only review product that I have personally watched or was sent over from the labels.  These are in no particular order and in general my full reviews ran earlier this year.

However stay tune at the end of this list and I will toss in some nuggets from years past you should pick up.

The Rolling Stones-Some Girls Live In Texas 1978-Blu-Ray-I play this a lot, because it’s back to basic Stones, playing with heart and conviction. Great remastering on the sound from Bob Clearmountain  

Bad Company-Live at Wembley-blu-ray-Easily one of the best looking shows I have watched this year. Paul Rodgers is in superb voice and the band including Mick Ralphs rises to the occasion.

Foo Fighters-Back and Forth-BLU-RAY In depth doc, career spanning. What’s it like to be Dave Grohl? He will tell you. Man, the guy works hard. Some concert footage and a good chunk on the Nirvana years. Hands down, excellent!

Peter Gabriel-New Blood-Live in London-BLU-RAY The best audio and video I have saw personaly this year. It takes guts and chops to show your catologue in a different light with a 46 piece orchestra. Spectacular, but low key.

Jeff Beck-Rock R’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul-BLU-RAY Such a killer performance. Muscianship beyond belief and you get introduced to new to you players such as sax man Leo Green, incredible nuances from singer Imelda May and Darrell Higham along with high octane drumming from Stephen Rushton. And of course Jeff Beck is the glue to the entire show. Wow! 

Heart -Night At Sky Church-BLU-RAY-You always knew how good the sisters were. But this is a potent reminder. Spectacular visuals and 5.1 mix 

Billy Joel-Live at Shea Stadium-BLU-RAY- Sony nails it with this. Stunning show, killer performance by Joel and his band with special guests. Wow!!

Deep Purple and Orchestra-Live at Montreux 2011-BLU-RAY-You read my original review. Explosive and nuanced. Incredible. A must have for millions of DP fans worldwide.

Here is a small list of other faves, some new some old

Gary Moore-The Definitive Montreux Collection-Pure blues, stunning player and sadly missed. Amazing.

Classic Album Series on DVD–Distributer Eagle Rock

Ray Charles Live in France 1961-Historic.

 Big Head Todd and Monsters DVD from 2004- Live at the Fillmore,  Killer stuff, great band

Nils Lofgren Cry Tough-2 discs 3 concerts-excellent insight

Jeff  Healey Band-Full Circle-Live Anthology-Mostly cd but with a unique dvd performance you must own 

The Last Waltz- Of course. The Band with special guests, Scorcese directs and it’s on blu-ray

Have I missed something? Probably. Please Read My Archives

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, a hip online radio host. and you can purchase john’s own music on apple itunes with this band and solo



 photo credit barry roden


Andrew Cole is on a mission to create music that is something different, magical and accessible.

We all remember that era don’t we?  When Neil Young took an acoustic guitar to Massey Hall and blew you away.  Or Robbie Roberston, Levon Helm and the guys played the music that would become legendary Canadiana and Americana all at once.  

All of us who really care about music want the magic back.

Cole has drive. I like him a lot. You can feel the passion in the guy. That’s what matters.  And you know what?

If you get excited and passionate people will notice. And hell, it will matter to people all over the world.

Andrew Cole.  He has big plans.

A dreamer. Just like all of us.  But didn’t Tom Cochrane write a song about that?  You bet he did! 

I just listened to Voices at 4 A.M. his new single, and after one listen it’s clear this song has an urgency to it. Not only do you want to play it again, but you want to turn it up. So that’s what I’m doing as I write this. You know how it is, you just want to crank a good riff every now and then.

I admire Cole’s integrity.

 Hell, let’s wake up. Music is passion. It breathes life into us all!

AC wants to get this new music into your brain and make it stick. He has some “heavy’ friends helping him out like Tom Cochrane, Kenny Aronoff and Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson to name a few

Recently Andrew and I spoke about this new project and an important new effort

 Here is some of what we ‘grooved’ on

EMMS-Heck Andrew, you sound exhausted have you been working late hours?

COLE-Yes John, this project has taken a toll, but that’s okay. From getting everyone in one room, and scheduling to mix in the UK, the artwork and waiting for Alex Lifeson to finish his tour with Rush. But I have never worked in this fashion and it’s good.

EMMS-Why mix in the UK?

COLE-I wanted to work with Chris Potter who is best known for mixing and producing The Verve and Richard Ashcroft

I can tell you John, I dont’ think I have heard anything like Voices at 4 AM on Canadian Radio. It’s as Canadian as Tom Cochrane (who wrote the music) with a psychedelic feel in a few places, and then a huge chorus. The lyrics are dark and twisted.

 But this project has taken 9 months. It’s an experiment which I’m loving  John. The basic idea was to bring in musicians to paint a canvas and not get stuck  in each others paint. That was my goal.  And it’s working.

Later I would like to work on a 5 or 6 artist two song EP’ idea and release them. Burton Cummings is a very interesting guy and I would love to work with him and many others. Kind of like a Willbury’s thing but with different artists.

EMMS-You are also doing a bullying song project.  Tell me more, I love this idea

COLE-Yes, the song is called JOKE I’m working with Alan Frew and Michael Hanson both of them are great.  Kind of  like a  3 verse  chorus thing John, and I have got vocalists like Meat Loaf, Elvis Costello, Ron Sexmith, and the amazing Steve Vai helping out.  Also, I filmed myself asking some of these legends to speak about the issue as well as sing.

Think about it John, who the “f***k am I? If I can get this done, then anything is possible. Hey, maybe we can shine a light on all this bad stuff  such as  having kids feel bullied to the point they take their lives.

EMMS-That’s incredible.  Tell me more about the docu-filming thing?

COLE-Well, I’m not an interviewer. ( I say to Andrew Ok so your not Barbara Walters and we howl)  but when I ask some of these stars on camera, it comes out honest and inspiring.  All we can do is ask.  The bigger the celebrity the easier the interview, you know that.

Now let me not confuse you John and your radio and blog fans this is a different project then the voices At 4 AM gig.  But, basically at the start an artist will always ask well who else is on it. But then you might ask someone like Jeff Goldblum and he would say “yes I’ll do this the next day” Then everyone gets at ease, because these people have careers to worry about, and I’m just some young bloke with big plans 

EMMS-How do get all these people to be on film if they live in different parts of the world?

COLE-Well, if I go to Los Angeles for a month, I bring a small film crew and we can get 5 or 6 people at once 

EMMS-This is exciting Andrew I can feel how passionate you are. I got you off our original  idea, so let’s go back to the EP release

COLE-Ok mate, we can do a followup as we progress, I’ll send you a trailer.

EMMS- I love the mix on 4 AM and the feel. How did the musical idea for 4 AM come up?

COLE- The idea for Voices at 4 AM came about when I went up to the cottage with Tom Cochrane and he was playing me a piece of music Ken Greer and he had been working on as part of the No Stranger album. Tom, did not want to use these cuts because they did not really fit the No Stranger disc. I told him this was great stuff and could I pull it apart and work with it. He said go ahead, what’s the worst that could happen.  

EMMS-How did Alex Lifeson come to be on the track?

COLE-Well, he is friends with Tom but of course he is super busy. I honestly have to say I really pursued him to play because I thought his huge guitar sound along with Ken Greer’s work would propel the track once we started to get it down. And my persistence paid off

EMMS-How you did get Chris Potter to spend time mixing?

COLE-It’s funny he was a huge Alex Lifeson fan but I really had not got Lifeson to find the time. I was bummed out.

But I did bring the bed tracks to England. Chris changed the whole vibe of the song, and it blew Tom Cochrane’s mind. When we got the whole vocal thing about to go, I asked Tom to sing it, but he said no it’s yours now. But once I got Alex to play and sing Tom went with the chorus and for me it was like watching two old friends create magic. That is basically the story of Voices at 4 AM.

EMMS-Does this eventually then become an entire new album of let’s say 10 or 12 songs?

COLE-What I’m going to do is record let’s say five EPS’ all called VOICES with 5 different artists and myself as a producer vocalist with the artist.

EMMS-This perfectly suits our iTunes world.

COLE-Exactly John. Just like the Beatles did. They would release just singles and some of those singles would eventually go on to a Beatles album so to speak.

EMMS-Andrew I love this EP different artist concept, the music is inspired and I really think the work on the bullying project is a positive force for the world we now live in.

COLE-Thank you John. I enjoyed this and let’s talk again later on.  

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, a radio host and musician. You can check out John’s solo cd on Apple iTunes or his radio show where he personally selects and places every track. John Emms Radio has garnered listeners from virtually all parts of the Globe.  Check it out here.

Just for sheer fun, John is the songwriter and vocalist with his BLUES


TOP BLUES ALBUMS OF 2011-JOHN EMMS-listen to john’s hip blues, roots, rock radio show


BLUES MUSIC has evolved. That is a good thing for fans and musicians. If we are being honest, it’s hard to improve on Muddy Waters,  Etta James, Howling Wolf, Stevie Ray Vaughan and 10 other icons I could name.  Yet, blues music has always included Soul, R & B, swing, blues rock, delta, electric blues, jazz and great vocalists and that is how you should use this list .

My introduction to blues music was from the first Rolling Stones albums. From there I went crazy for B.B. King, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Stevie Ray Vaughan etc and even had the chance to interview some of my blues greats.

This year’s best blues albums have many variations on the blues. These albums are all great and are in no particular order. This list is compliled from what the music labels sent and which I continue to play on my show. I have not heard every blues recording this year so be patient. Just for the record Joe Bonamassa appears twice on the list.

Warren Haynes-Man in Motion-This is Haynes best vocal album. I have included this in my blues section because of the R & B and soul influence. People are in for a real treat. Haynes steps up and delivers original soul music in the vein of Otis Redding.  Most fans have waited for Haynes to make this type of album. It’s here,  in all it’s glory. Not a bad song, and a great mix. A must have.

Beth Hart/Joe Bonamassa-Don’t Explain. For the listener and I suspect both Hart and Bonamassa, this album is always coming from the right place. The bottom of your gut, the breath from your lungs and the dynamics of a great band. Granted some of the songs like I’d Rather Go Blind (which they really nail) have been covered many times but then there is the gospel of Something’s Got A Hold On Me,  a superb cover of Delaney and Bonnie’s Well, Well or the funky hard riffage cover of  Bill Wither’s soulful track For My Friend.

The title track is I believe the most soulful cover of any song I have heard in the last 2 or 3 years. Stunning vocal by Hart, gorgeous string arrangement and Bonamassa’s guitar work is as organic as any guitarist on the planet. Killer CD. Bravo Beth and Joe


Maria Muldaur- Steady Love-From the moment I opened this cd and hit play I was knocked out by the confidence of Muldaur’s vocals, the song arrangements, and the crisp mix. Muldaur sings like she was 20 years younger than her 68 years but with the chops of experience. You have to absolutley have this as part of your collection of albums.

Gregg Allman-Low Country Blues-Some people were surprised at how vintage this record sounded. So was I. T-Bone Burnett produces but in the end it’s  the sound of Allmans’ voice with some great players. An iconic bluesman in every way. Get It

Ana Popovic- Unconditional-This is the best I have heard Popovic sing on any album. It’s her most focused set of songs and her guitar work has evolved to a level of excellence which is scary. Wow!

Joe Bonamassa-Dust Bowl-Look, this is my chance to say Rolling Stone Magazine got it WRONG when Bonamassa was not named in the top 100 guitarists poll. Okay. Dust Bowl is Bonamassa’s most accessible album. All styles, killer cameos by Glenn Hughes, John Hiatt and Vince Gill. Bonamassa and producer/mixer Kevin Shirley keep things cohesive despite the fact the album was recorded in various locations.

MonkeyJunk-To Behold- I encourage blues fans from around the world to check out how cool this release is. It’s all about the groove and believe me Steve Marriner, Tony D and Matt Sobb know groove. Very nice

Roy Rogers/Ray Manzerek-Translucent Blues-I have literally had this stuck in my vehicle since the day the label sent it overI never would have dreamed of these two musicians teaming up and knocking me out. Not a bad song, and most of the disc is hard driving blues that simply kicks butt.

Savoy Brown-Major comeback for Kim Simmonds with the help of a great pair of  lungs courtesy of Joe Whiting. You will be very surprised.

Tedeshi-Trucks Band-Revelator-This reminds me so much of Delaney and Bonnie’s output. Again, this is music made for all the right reasons. It grows slow on ya’ and then reveals it’s true richness. Nice.

Steve Miller Band-Let Your Hair Down-As last years Bingo Cd proved to classic rock fans Miller’s heart is bang on in the blues. Always has been. Superbly executed, pristine production, killer covers and oh man Miller can wail that ol’ guitar.

Kenny Blues Boss Wayne-An Old Rock on a Roll. Produced like fine wine from the one and only Duke Robillard this is going to surprise a ton of people all over. I love to call Wayne’s music Fats Domino meets Johnny Johnson via the way of the blues. Great groove, plays the piano and the band fits in like a warm comforter blanket. Your gonna love it, take my word!

I know I have left a few out.




BEST ROCK CD’S OF 2011-JOHN EMMS-check out john’s worldwide rock, blues, and roots radio show


Millions of people worldwide still love ROCK music. The only problem is mainstream radio mostly does not play along.

It’s a shame. That’s why people like myself and other radio outlets try to to play honest music. I have a passion for all styles of music but on my radio show rock, blues, roots, and no frills pop music always make the cut.

ROCK for most people now consists of classic rock.  But after the same four or five hundred songs for 40 years straight, it’s bloody well boring 

Here are my top ROCK ALBUMS for 2011. For some reason the word BLACK comes up in the best of releases this year. You will see when you check my list. These are in no particular order, and believe me these artists/bands are not boring. I rate only what I have heard or have played on my radio show 

BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION 2-It’s amazing that this late in his career Glenn Hughes is making some of the best music of his life. It’s a great omen and together with Derek Sherinian on keys, the massive groove of Jason Bonham on drums and guitarist Joe Bonamassa for my money one of the most soulful players on the planet,  BCC groove like few bands can. Credit producer Kevin Shirley for the unforced and organic sound of this record.

FOO FIGHTERS-Wasting Light-Stuck in my vehicle  since late spring. Let’s face facts,  Grohl and company may be just peaking. Scary Thought. Killer rock n’ roll

THE  ANSWER-REVIVAL-Wow, and wow again. Not many bands can lay claim to actually writing classic rock songs in 2011. Once you put this in your vehicle and hit play the cd may never come out 

NILS LOFGREN-OLD SCHOOL-Do yourself a favour, don’t think twice. Lofgren has just released the best album of his career hands down. Sure, he plays some killer guitar with THE BOSS.  But this cd is truly where he shines. Title track and and Amy Joan Blues are must have downloads

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS-(below) I’M WITH YOU-I have never been a huge fan, but a fan just the same.  One of the best mixed audio cd’s this year. Everyone plays their butts off  and yes Josh Klinghoffer’s guitar work shines. Songwriting is some of the best of their career.

THE BLACK KEYS-EL CAMINO An absolute killer album. Let me be honest, I have never been a two piece guitar/drums guy. My minimum is 3 because I was brought up on Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. This cd has the “Keys” expanding the instrumentation and in addition  the variety of songwriting influences seal the deal.

BLACK STONE CHERRY-BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA-The band’s heaviest album by far. Less Southern more foot to the pedal board if you will. Uncomprimising and man this band means it! 

URIAH HEEP-INTO THE WILD- I knew it. 10 minutes after writing this review I look to my left and there it is UH’s INTO THE WILD-great cd, killer hooks and Mick Box is still rocking the world. Look for a lot more of this cd on my radio show!

CHCKENFOOT 111- Of course this is the band’s 2nd cd, and it’s better than the first. The songs are more focused and even though they could easily go into the stratosphere they dont!  Muscular rock never sounded so good in 2011.

RIVAL SONS-(ABOVE)-PRESSSURE & TIME-Hands down the most refreshing band I have heard in the last 3 years or so.  Welcome to what rock n roll used to be like. All Over The Road maybe the hottest song you could sing a long to while getting the job done. If you know what I mean. No band plays like this anymore. 

ICED EARTH-DYSTOPIA-I’m more of a hard rock fan than metal as you can see by my choices. However, no one makes metal this intelligent, except Iced Earth. Title track is the best metal song of the year. Nuff said!

STEVEN WILSON-GRACE FOR DROWNING-2cd set-I will be the first to say this is an acquired taste.  It’s superb ambient texture and Wilson’s gift for making his songs cinematic makes this a tasty treat on repeat listens

I know I missed some..but check my upcoming TOP BLUES CD’S OF 2011 and my just published BEST POP CD’S 2011

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, radio host and long time musican. check out JOHN’S stuff with  THE SHAFTMEN on Apple Itunes




The best pop cd’s always contain some rock, some pop,R & B and even alt country. This year we put ROCK cd’s such as Black Country Communion 2 in the ROCK category. These cd’s are not in order. They are also ONLY what I have personally heard this year. Again, only what I have heard and played all year on my radio show

THE KOOKS-Junk Of The Heart-Revealing lyrics,  great melodies and if you saw the band on David Letterman or on tour they do it all with just four members.

DAVE STEWART-The Blackbird Diaries -His best solo cd, great guest players and one of the most natural sounding cd’s I have heard for the last 3 or 4 years. Amazing.

COLDPLAY-MYLO XYLOTO-Layered, complicated, uncomplicated, pure pop, smart and plenty of integrity

ADELE 21-Easily gets  my vote for simply plain killer talent. Often just voice, piano and superb vocal

BLACKFIELD-(above) Welcome To My DNA-Few artists this year have this much originality, heart and integrity as Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen.  It’s the real thing

THE DECEMBERISTS-THE KING IS DEAD-Wow, simply put their best work of their career. Alt country supreme.

ROBBIE ROBERSTON-HOW TO BECOME CLAIRVOYANT-Personal songs, gorgeous production and Roberston at his most organic

CITY AND COLOUR-Little Hell-Dallas Green goes by his own cred. The music on this album sounds like Green has dug deeper than on any past effort. Gutsy

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS-Confirms that Gallagher is in a great place. Confident, songwriting up to par and guess what?  His vocals are pretty damn good. 

JAMES MCCARTNEY-The Complete EP Collection-This is just going to plain catch people by surprise. Superb new talent.

THE MIDWAY STATE-PARIS OR INDIA-I have not heard a young band this organically in tune with their own writing and talent. Watch out. Pick this up.

DAWES-NOTHING IS WRONG-Exactly what I said. Great songwriting, alt county and pop-ORGANIC as all get out

RON HAWKINS-STRAITJACKET LOVE-Compelling songcraft, lyrically superb and hits you in all the right places 

JIM CUDDY-SKYSCRAPER SOUL-Cuddy simply knows what is right for him. In turn it’s great for us. Very Nice Work

AMOS LEE-MISSION BELL-My early fave of the year from Jan 2011. His best work to date. I always go back to it

ERIC CHURCH-CHIEF Best straight up country recording of the year.  Bar none. Wow!

No doubt, I have forgot something, but yes your right. No GLEE stuff in my pile

JOHN EMMS is a musician, radio host  and long time music journalist

December 2011