Archive for December, 2012





Every year I consistently use Music Blu-Rays and DVD’ s as my chief form of  entertainment.

As readers know I have been reviewing Blu-Ray product DVD from it’s inception from all major labels

While many labels offered great releases in 2012 it’s no stretch to say Eagle Rock Entertainment continues to offer amazing quality in both video and audio resolution as well as a variety of titles that no other company does. 

Briefly here are my blu-ray/dvd pics for 2012.

Freddie Mercury-The Great Pretender-An absorbing, unique and no holds barred look at Mercury’s music and his life. Great interview segments, tons of special moments I had never saw at any point, studio footage and above all in depth personal stuff no one can resist.

Neil Young-Journeys-Blu-ray- This is the most natural recorded, mixed blu-ray I have heard all year. Introspective footage.  A joy to watch and good performances to boot. 

Coldplay-Live 2012-I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Coldplay is one of the most important bands of the last 4 or 5 years. What impresses me about the this blu-ray is the inclusion of the interview segments while the concert is being  shown. It works big time because the essential songs are left to proceed. Hell these guys are pretty down to earth and honest about what they have achieved. As others have noted, Chris Martin’s voice is a bit buried sometimes in the 5.1 mix.

Led Zeppelin-Celebration Day-Buy the deluxe version with the cd’s folks. The audio quality on the cd’s is excellent. The film itself shows that this legendary band (with Jason Bonham) is better 30 years later then most live acts today.

Santana-Greatest Hits-Blu-Ray-This is the best looking blu-ray I watched all year. Stunning to say the least. Gorgeously recorded, killer 5.1 mix..and special guests. A must have

The Jeff  Healey Band-Live in Belgium-1993-This show has a few audio and video issues. But for whatever reason it remains a fave which I have played for a lot of my friends. People are starting to wake up to the fact that original Jeff  Healey Band (in this case augmented by more players) was one of the most important blues rock acts of their time. Love it.

Styx-Pieces of 8/The Grand Illusion Live-How good were these albums when they were released in the late 70’s? Very good.

It’s mindblowing to watch the  band recreate this from a  201o concert song for song. In fact, Larry Gowan comes up big as the new vocalist while Tommy Shaw and and James De Young remain as passionate as ever. Get It.

Muddy Waters/Rolling Stones-Live at The Checkerboard Lounge 1981-Bob Clearmountain has done an amazing job restoring the sound on this. I remember watching old clips of this 15 years ago and it never sounded this vital. Muddy and Stones?  Cmon. another fave for my friends and fellow musicians.

here are some other titles that I received which make a big impression.

Beatles-Magical Mystery Tour-blu-ray-Check the interview section for candid macca and Ringo interviews.

George Martin-Produced By-Dvd- Extensive and at times absorbing footage of his career and recording techniques

Bachman/Turner/Live at The Roseland Ballroom-Excellent Show. Solid performance.

More to come..JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, radio host

and musician..check out the blues rock of THE SHAFTMEN




Tried to keep the top rock albums of 2012 just ROCK..

However pop music does seem to get it’s way in.

My lists are always in no particular order, but Sambora’s album is damn vital. 

Richie Sambora-Aftermath Of The Lowdown- Sambora digs really deep. His guitar work is incisive. The band is killer.  The songwriting is top notch. This is what ROCK used to be about. Great songs, great playing.

The Smashing Pumpkins-Oceania-Wow, this album was a huge surprise. Not a bad song on the whole album. Many moods, always right

Green Day-Uno-Shorter songs, punchy mix and attiitude. Yep, punk but really smart.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse-Psychedelic Pill-If there is a more honest sound then Neil hooking up with Crazy Horse for 16 and 27 minute tracks let them step up. Young sounds like he is 30 years old but with the wisdom of  his tremendous influence as one of  rock’s greatest songwriters.

Rush-Clockwork Angels-Never afraid to try new areas, this album never rests on the band’s reputation. Bold, agressive and vital.  

Uriah Heep-I know what your thinking. Don’t think, listen. Who would have thought “The Heep” could sound so cool in 2012. B-3 organ, big loud guitars and very catchy riffs and songs. Solid

Rival Sons-Head Down-Classic rock in the year 2012. This is a huge guitar album turned up loud and righteous. 

Colin James-Fifteen-A musician of many talents in blues and roots but this  album is James’ best rock album. You really have to know why I put this album up against all comers. James’ vocal work on here is the best of his career.

Kid Rock-Rebel Soul-Title track is probably the coolest song of 2012. Attitude, and great hooks all the way through

The Killers-Battle Born-Big mixes, big heart and the best songs of their career. Killer? You bet it is.

The Avett Brothers-The Carpenter-I was very surprised at some of the rock n’ roll on here. In the past on Austin City Limits the band are the kings of roots music. There is still tons of roots music here, but the rock out tracks are damn good!

Jack White-Blunderbuss-This album is all over the place, but its never wrong. White has tons of soul and this album is magic at every turn.

Serena Ryder-Harmony-Soulful vocalist and songwriter. A mix between Adele, Amy Winehouse and of course Ryder-This is a pop album. Make no mistake. But damn, it’s good.

Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball- When you release work this good this far into your career your more than allright. Not many artists can take on the issues of the world and make it so passionate.

Here is a short list of some other notable albums

Heart-Fanatic-Some outsanding songs on this album. Passionate work all the way through. 

Norah Jones-Little Broken Hearts-What established artist can take this much of an alt/pop chance on an album and come out smelling roses. Excellent.

Steve Harris-British Lion-Again, a no brainer. Not Iron Maiden. Not always metal. Classic rock by Harris and his solo band.

I have probably missed a few and I may amend this slightly. but this is the best of what I heard in 2012.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, musician and radio host. Check out John”s worldwide radio broadcast here



gary clark jr 1


The best blues work of  2012 and for matter the last 10 years has usually been about artists who bridge the gap between R & B, Soul, Americana Roots,12 Bar Blues and of course the mighty blues rock.

In fact a number of albums released this year in a blues category will make top lists in possibly a rock genre.

Before I make the list of 2012 note I pick from only albums I own or what labels have sent.

In the past years off the top of my head if I think about Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Bonamassa, Peter Karp and Sue Foley, Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters, Tommy Castro, Jack De Keyzer, Tedeschi-Trucks Band etc. These artists made great albums INSPIRED by the blues form of  Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, B.B. King and others

Nothing wrong with that. 

In no particular order, this is what sticks in my vehicle, on my radio show, on my Ipod, and home stereo.

Gary Clark Jr-Blak and Blu-One of the most gutsy and honest players playing music inspired by the blues form has to be Clark Off the top, his extended guitar solos break all the rules. On this album they will leave you reeling. Songs like Ain’t Messing Around with it’s killer horns blow you out of the room. Check out the soul on the title track, the very heavy When My Train Pull In or the enormous blues rock of Numb.  Wow! 

Peter Karp and Sue Foley-Beyond The Crossroads-It’s hard to describe the organic vibe that comes out of this recording. It’s unstrained, natural and above all it’s entertaining.  Original yet familar. Exactly my point about this review. Music inspired by the blues that is creative and sticks with you.  A must have album.

Robert Cray-Nothin’ But Love. The most relaxed, inspired set of songs that any Grammy winning blues musician recorded this year. Songs of love lost, killer playing and  fantastic arrangements in a non traditional blues form. I can’t stop playing this album.

Joe Bonamassa-Driving Towards Daylight-Bonamsssa is the player I most admire in having the passion of Stevie Ray Vaughan. Granted he does not play the blues as straight as Vaughan and Double Trouble, but to give you a clue my wife lives Joe’s work and she is not a huge blues fan. Dislocated Boy, his cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s Who’ Been Talkin’ and the title track are monsters.

Jack De Keyzer-Electric Love-There may not be a better slow blues song than De Keyzer’s My Love Has Gone in 2012. Great vocal, minor key traditional blues form, and stunning guitar solo. De Keyzer turns up the volume at every turn. Tracks like the title track, Rock Me Like This, Mojo Woman, and To Be With You will burn holes in your speakers.

Paul Reddick-Wishbone-Great songwriter who’s songs lyrically bring on a cinematic scope. Check out The Other Man, the terrific Devil’s Load and I Ain’t Sentimental.  Excellent. 

Eric Bibb-Deeper In the Well. In quiet moments when you listen to this recording it astounds you that someone can make music as real as this. No BS here folks. Honest Americana roots. Again, cinematic in scope

Bonnie Raitt-Slipstream. Like Gary Clark Jr, Raitt is not doing a tradtional form of the blues. If anything this is an R & B album that suits a soul/rock category. Absolute killer work from Raitt and her hot band. This album sounds like you were in the studio with the band when they were recording. Clean and uncluttered.  Another cd I can’t stop playing.

Walter Trout-Blues For the Modern Daze-This album is damn good. We should have seen it coming. At the top of his game Trout is the equal of Bonamassa and plays with the fire of Gary Moore. Title track, Money Rules The World and Turn Off Your TV tell it like it is. Wow!

Magic Slim and The Teardrops-Bad Boy-Classic blues and the album I play most on the way to a gig. Simple, effective and brings me back to the way Muddy Waters played in his heydey. Love it.

Other blues based highlights for me in 2012

Deanna Bogart-Pianoland-Consumate musician. In fact Bogart is scary good. Jazzy, bluesey and always on the money.

Craig Chaquico-Fire Red Moon-The instrumentals like Blue on Blue are the key to this album. The more you listen to this cd the better it gets. That’s a good thing.

Muddy Waters and The Rolling Stones-Live at the Checkerboard Lounge-This is more to fun to watch on the DVD but even on the cd it reminds you that there was only one Muddy Waters. As a point,  let’s face it The Stones are pretty damn good blues players eh?

Henrik Freischalder Band-House In the Woods-German guitarist and his band are dynamite. Henrik sounds vocally like Ronnie Wood. As greasy as ZZ Top, some traditional. some soul, lots of great electric blues. Top tracks are Nowhere To Go, title track and the funky Hear You Talking.

I’m probably forgetting some artists but this is an essential list.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter, musician and radio host. You can hear John’s blues rocking band The Shaftmen on Itunes, Amazon and here



2010 Lupus LA Orange Ball - InsideTHE ARCHIVES


December 2012