Showing posts with label MuzikMan Productions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MuzikMan Productions. Show all posts


Rock-Pop Review: Bob Jones, Louis Jones, Stephen Peppos-50/80 50 Years in 80 Minutes

Release Date: December 23, 2019
Label: Sonic Bear Music

Interview With Band Is Included Below!

How does a group of musicians put 50 years of music into a single CD that lasts for 80 minutes? Just ask Bob Jones, Louis Jones, and Stephen Peppos. The title 50/80 50 Years in 80 Minutes lets you know straight away what you are in for.

On a separate note, I have covered several of Stephen’s New Age keyboard instrumental projects over the years and consider him to be one of the finest performers of instrumental music that I have heard.

This all started in the 60s when three boys in High School put a band together and then started writing and recording. One of the configurations was Stephen Peppos & Jones Straightjacket Band (tracks 1, 3, 8, 9, 12, 14, 19, 22, 24). There are extensive liner notes included with the CD so you get the whole story.

The 25 tracks cover a range of pop and rock that are indeed retro and if you listen intently you can identify which decade that they fit into. For instance, “High School Years #2” sounds very 60s and “Too Much To Bear” has some good guitar licks that reminded me of the late 70s to early 80s period. Then “Lalena” has a psychedelic trippy 60s Top 40 sensibility. These songs sound good enough to have been spinning regularly on radio stations and in fact, some did on a local level with station WKLX out of Virginia. “I Gotta Sing My Song” was one song that radio DJ Mike Deeson liked. To me, it felt like something that would have gone well with 70s TV shows like Love Boat or the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Only those old enough to remember will understand where I coming from once, they hear the tracks.

One of the tracks on solid ground that is good for any era is ”A Christmas Carol.” It features great vocals and some jangly acoustic guitar lines. Seasonal music does not define a period so when you first hear it, it fits no matter what.

As you make your way through this ambitious compilation, you realize why it took 2 years to get it all together. The variety is quite interesting. Form a Christmas song to the lyrics “Hell no we will not fade away” on “Boomers Anthem,” which is a recent recording from 2019, is accompanied by appropriate guitar lines and inspirational lyrics for all the rockers out there. For me that was one of the standout tracks and my favorite on the entire recording.

Influences from the Byrds To Paul Simon to Cream pepper all of these recordings. You get the feeling of originality bursting through with authority to more obscure live recording snippets on “Look Through Any Window.” “Kicks” is all 60s and one of the best tracks on the CD. It was a hit in 1966 for Paul Revere and the Raiders. The fact that they covered it so well was an indication of their all-around talent.

At first glance when you see 25 tracks you may think “Wow this is a lot of music” and it is a double album. The truth is they go by very quickly because some are short snippets of recordings to go along with other full-length tracks that cover some ground musically.

When I heard the first few tracks, I was thinking that I was not too crazy about them, just my opinion, and it does not mean someone else would not like them. But it just keeps getting better and you realize the entire point of this compilation. That thought was fleeting and forgotten in a matter of minutes.

50/80 50 Years in 80 Minutes is jam-packed with musical diversity and a snapshot of history over a long period. This group of young men had the talent to record all this music and although they did not become stars on a national level, they certainly showed that their talent could have taken them places most bands dream of. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. All of that aside, this is a valid musical statement showcasing the talents of the three main men involved.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
February 28, 2020

Review Provided By


Instrumental Rock Review: Joe Satriani-Shapeshifting

Release Date: April 10, 2020
Label: Sony Music/Legacy Recordings

I always wonder what Satch will come up with next when he releases another album. You have to be a very creative guitar player to constantly come up with something new and exciting for your listeners. He manages to do that consistently. With Shapeshifting due out on April 10, 2020 he is sure not to disappoint.

There are thirteen tracks of instrumental ear candy to consume on this latest recording. Joe’s sound is distinct and very familiar to millions of rockers worldwide. I am among the longtime fans that stretch back to the 80s. When I was first turned on to his music, I could not forget it and wanted more. Joe has served us instrumental rock freaks well in his long and successful career.

Some notes from the press release FYI:
Shapeshifting was co-produced by Satriani and Jim Scott (Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) with longtime associate John Cuniberti onboard handling the mastering duties. Satriani enlisted a wide range of collaborators, both old and new, to help him bring the songs to life. Legendary drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Fogerty), bassist Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction) and keyboardist Eric Caudieux were the core musicians on the new album with additional contributions coming from Lisa Coleman (The Revolution) and Christopher Guest.

So, there is no surprise that so many names in the industry are part of this. Just remember he is the guy that taught Steve Vai a few things, who is no slouch on the six-string either.

The production values of Shapeshifting are superb and what you would expect. Every song has a different style and pace to it, making sure every listener gets the variety they need to stay interested from beginning to end. Joe delivers the goods track to track. The album leads off with the title track and a high energy blast of some guitar magic that sets the right tone right from the start.

One of the more eclectic and interesting tracks is “Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien and Me.” It gives thanks to those artists that Joe has admired and you certainly can hear the Dick Dale reference. Surf instrumental is so recognizable and Dale was one of the first innovators of the genre. I am not familiar with Farka’s work but because of that song I will have to do some investigating. If Joe likes him, chances are his work will be of great value to his listeners. As far as the Alien, I think it was that silver dude he was surfing with back in the early years of his career.

The first single “Nineteen Eighty” has some Eddie Van Halen types of riffs running through and it packs a punch through to the end, it is pure energy and excitement. After that explosion of six-string virtuosity, Joe slows things down a bit with “All My Friends Are Here.” It’s not slow but in terms of the way he plays, it is a few notches down from the previous track. It has some great hooks that are hard to ignore. It sounds like the kind of track you may hear sound bites of accompanying a sporting video, albeit in a sport that has plenty of movement.

All that energy and creativeness Joe has in his soul never subsides during this instrumental treasure trove of masterful six-string displays. This is vintage Satriani doing what he does best, just flat out jamming and bending those strings with a fluidness and command that few players can muster. He is and has been one of the premier rock guitarists for a long time and this recording takes its place alongside one of the great releases such as Surfing With The Alien for consistency of quality. I must reiterate, with the level of difficulty involved in putting out yet another all-instrumental album, this sets the bar extremely high for an artist like Joe. He is up for the challenge and plays like a man that is recording his swan song.

Diversity is the key to success. Tracks like the beautiful “Falling Stars” step away from the hard-charging rockers to show that he can do tasteful slower paced tracks with some funky licks interspersed between the rhythm section action. “Waiting” is even more expressive and a nice ballad that relates to the title with its slow start and pensive build-up that intimates some impatience but in a very nice way. It is one of the shorter jaunts clocking in at 2:37. Now if that wasn’t enough of a change, he kicks into high gear with some reggae chops on “Here The Blue River.” He also mixes in the rockin’ side of his playing to the blend with the reggae back beat which continues as the foundation. The multi-layered tracking is amazing with some great effects, making the track the most varied sounding on the entire album.

And just when you thought you heard just about every style imaginable he closes out with “Yesterday’s Yesterday,” a country-fried journey that rings true with the jangling strings and the old western atmosphere it hints at. In many ways, if you played this for long time fans, they may be hard-pressed to peg Joe as the artist.

In the end, the curtain closes and Joe Satriani wins you over again with the superior quality and all the incredible guitar playing on display on this fine album. His ongoing maturity is evident with each subsequent release and he surely is the ultimate Shapeshifting guitar man.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
February 8, 2020

Founder of:

Review Provided By

01. Shapeshifting
02. Big Distortion
03. All For Love
04. Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien and Me
05. Teardrops
06. Perfect Dust
07. Nineteen Eighty
08. All My Friends Are Here
09. Spirits, Ghosts and Outlaws
10. Falling Stars
11. Waiting
12. Here The Blue River
13. Yesterday’s Yesterday


Acoustic Instrumental Review:New Latitude-Wood, Steel, and Grace

Release Date: January 20, 2020
Label: New Latitude Music

Dave Erickson (acoustic guitar), Jim Carr (acoustic guitar), Deon Kuhl (drums & percussion) and Rick Brough (upright bass) are New Latitude. The former bass player Bob Strickland played on 5 tracks. Their latest release is Wood, Steel, and Grace.

This would serve as my introduction and a new discovery, so that starts things off with a lot of anticipation. After reading some history of the band I could tell it was going to be something I would enjoy.

The cover of the album is wood with various colorings, just like the music you will hear on this recording It is acoustic instrumental with a melting pot of styles and genres offered on the nine tracks. New Age, Jazz, and Latin flavored tracks flow effortlessly through their instruments.

I have a kinship for Latin music and “Días Calientes” was a quick favorite. There is that irresistible and colorful rhythm that runs through the song along with some very fast acoustic guitar playing. If they could have picked one spotlight track for the album this would be it. The musical gusto of each member of the band is quite impressive and when all of their talents come together it is like a musical carnival of sounds. 

“Open Road” is a jazz track, the embodiment of the “quiet storm” label minus the R&B reference. 
It is a distinct sub-genre of that particular kind of music. The transition from the previous track is perfectly executed and a reminder that the genres are close cousins in the diverse genre that jazz can give a listener.

“A Serious Man” is a fast-moving track featuring uplifting nimble-fingered guitar interplay. It is a wonderful listen that also spotlights the unmistakable standup bass with well-placed percussion. The choice for bass is excellent for this type of acoustic instrumental presentation, it complements the guitar playing and is the driving wheel of each track.

“Old Friends” was more of New Age style, it reminded me of some of the Windham Hill releases that came out when Will Ackerman was signing on artists to his label and getting this kind of music a world stage. Now the stage is infinite because of the internet and streaming, which is a good thing for any artist looking for exposure. The title of the track was perfect, it was like seeing an “Old Friend.”

The curtain closer “Prismatic Sky,” which also had a New Age sound and atmosphere and consequently was an easy choice to add to my New Age Music Reviews Spotify Playlist. It was a great way to end the album.

The range of musical style and expertise on display throughout the nine tracks is superb and I would most definitely appreciate another helping of this at any time. This is music for any time of day or night, or if you happen to be looking for something that will put a smile on your face and in your heart, then I would recommend listening to Wood, Steel, and Grace.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
February 1, 2020
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

1. Alpine Bliss (3:10)
2. Cruising Altitude (3:42)
3. Días Calientes (4:31)
4. Open Road (3:40)
5. Alpenglow (3:37)
6. A Serious Man (3:58)
7. Windmills (3:19)
8. Old Friends (3:12)
9. Prismatic Sky (3:03)


Prog Rock Review: Nektar-The Other Side

Release Date: January 24, 2020
Label:  Independent

Early influencers of the ’70s prog-rock movement, Nektar has returned with a satisfying new release. The Other Side reaches into the past and skillfully carries the band’s groundbreaking sound into the modern age. Like many prog-rock pioneers, Nektar took chances. Their debut album, for example, contained a single 40-minute song. As with any early 70s band that is fortunate enough to remain together, Nektar has gone through changes. Today, Nektar consists of three original members (Mo Moore, Ron Howden & Randy Dembo), a returning stint player (Ryche Chlanda), and a new keyboardist (Kendall Scott).

These are experimental rock songs with driving, complex rhythms supporting flights of fancy on keyboard and guitar. Think of Jones & Bonham of Led Zeppelin meeting Rick Wakeman of YES meeting Steve Hacket of Genesis. The most enjoyable moments on this album come when the band flies away from the derivative and predictable choruses and allows Chlanda and Scott to take the listener to new heights.

Case in point is the opening track, “I’m on Fire.” The lyrics Mo Moore wrote in 1978 for his fiancé fall flat against the imaginative underlying sonic texture. “SkyWriter” is a more accessible and reminiscent of an Asia track bridging prog with pop. On the other side of the coin, “Love Is/The Other Side” is a masterful progression of melodies and tempos taking off mid-way and not relenting until the end. “The Light Beyond” and “Look Through Me” are slower, more orchestral, and introspective songs heavy on keyboard with strains of Alan Parsons.

At times it feels as if The Other Side is attempting to combine the experimental and ethereal nature of progressive rock with down-to-earth hard rock sensibilities. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. As a listener, I found myself tuning out for the chorus and turning in for the jams. Overall, the offering is strong, and the experience is worthwhile. The better news is that Nektar is still producing quality albums and is still touring. Legend has it that they do not let their live audiences down, so check out their tour list and go see this iconic band while you have the chance.

Tom Endyke - Staff
January 23, 2019

Rate the Tracks

1. I’m On Fire
2. SkyWriter
3. Love is/The Other Side
4. Drifting
5. Devil’s Door
6. The Light Beyond
7. Look Through Me
8. Y Can’t I B More Like U


New Age/Contemporary Instrumental Review: Doug Hammer- piano2

Release Date: December 31, 2019
Label: Dreamworld Productions

Previous to Doug Hammer’s 13th proper studio recording piano2, I had the distinct pleasure to cover two entirely different releases. Christmas Lights in 2015 and Americana in 2016. The titles are self-explanatory however this title leaves you thinking what could be coming out of your speakers.

What I can say with unequivocal joy is that piano2 is as diverse musically as the last two I heard and reviewed. Doug likes to mix it up and play many different styles, touching upon a multitude of genres. 

There is new age, contemporary classical, like “A Rainy Night with You” or some jazz-inflected honky-tonk like on “Chasin’ Possum.” Or one of my favorites that I added to my New Age Music Review Spotify Playlist, “The Sunshine in You.” That one sounds as bright and energetic as the title implies. If the shoe fits wear it right? I believe that applies to all of this music, titles of the tracks are a lead into what you will hear. Everyone will hear something different but the one commonality is that if there is a love for instrumental piano music. The consequence of that is piano2 will be your cup of tea straight away.

The changes can be dramatic from one track to the next and that is exactly what makes it such a great listen. It will hold your attention from beginning to end. 

One thing that always fascinates me is the process an artist goes through creating a recording from scratch. This what Doug said about his process with piano2:

 “I would work on an accompaniment first and then listen to that and record melodic ideas on another track. Then, I would go back and refine the accompaniment and then again go back and refine the melody.”

So, the very beginning steps then turns into refinement on different levels of production. What you get after all that passionate piano playing and structuring of compositions is nothing but beauty. To be more specific, this is musical bliss that anyone could enjoy and or appreciate. 

My entire being is touched by music like this because I do not have to think about any lyrics, I just let the music take me to another mindset, a place where I love to go time and time again. I am giving thanks to Doug Hammer and every artist out there that has given me that gift. If you are looking for something like I am, then give piano2 a spin or stream it with the player provided right now.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 16, 2020
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


 01. Shimmer in Disaster
02. You're the One
03. The Sunshine in You
04. Across the Plains  
05. Reaching for the Moon    
06. Strut Your Stuff  
07. Chasin' Possum
08. A Rainy Night with You     
09. The Uncertainty Principle
10. Round and Round      
11. Fanfare      
12. Celtic Heart
13. Walking with You
14. Shine Bright  
15. The Last Goodbye  


Rock - Metal Review: Blind Ego-Preaching To The Choir

Release Date: February 14, 2020
Label: Gentle Art of Music
This record is a blast of power and energy. From start to finish, Blind Ego’s efforts into their fourth studio album Preaching To The Choir is a force to be reckoned with. The uplifting lyrics blend seamlessly with the sounds of the guitars and drum in each track like a different chapter of a storybook. Most of the album reflects a very upbeat and positive tone which, to me, is hard to expect from a Rock, or Metal album typically. “Burning Alive,” the lead single, sounds not only the most radio-friendly but; somewhat like a Pop record because of how light it plays.

“Massive” is the ultimate starters song. You would expect to hear this song at the lead out of the announcement of the two Super Bowl LIV teams. It has so much fight and exhilaration throughout it. Not only that but, it sends the listener to a place where they feel like they are marching to their victory, to claim what is rightfully theirs.

As though one is stepping into a video game, the title track, “Preaching to the Choir” starts like walking onto a warp pad. The song quickly becomes a thrill, a rush of blood to the head, because you’ve been headbanging along with the guitar and drum patterns throughout. Then comes about, “ Burning Alive.” Leaving the past behind and watching it go up in flames, the band prepares and sets off to make a new out of the fire and ash of what they intend to leave behind; even if they catch a little singe on their way out.

“Line In The Sand” turns the album a little darker. The band is engulfed in a struggle of some kind. They don’t see a way out per se but, they establish then and there, that the things that turned them to the darkness of sorts, will not keep them from moving forward. The music keeps propelling the band, the album, and their career forward.

“Dark Paradise” keeps with the same darker underlying spirit. It acknowledges that standing alone might be the best way to move forward. The realization that sometimes you have to walk out the toughest battles alone, lays a theme for indeed, a dark paradise – a vast land now covered in blank darkness, that seemingly fits eternity. If there’s one theme that runs through this album, it’s consistency. “In Exhile” reflects that the singer has been running constantly and now has gotten to the point where those around him cannot see him, do not hear him, and do not care to look. He has grown comfortable this way, just muscling through whatever he must to get through day today.

“Heading For the Stars” become a bit lighter, in having a companion beside one another as they venture onto brighter things ahead. However, they find themselves embattled in a sea of negativity and disaster to get through. On the bright side, the singer notes, “the future is alive.” So, there must be something worth the chase after all. “Broken Land” lends itself to the same ideals of “jump into the flame” to get to where you want to be. It speaks of change, and what is to come of it on the other side. But, this broken land is wasted on them anymore because there has been so much trauma in its path.

The final track “The Pulse,” is all about anticipation. The singer reclaims what he’s been searching for in terms of peace and a purpose (or pulse). Beginning the track is just over two minutes of a lead-in of thrill and sound. But, what will come of this man’s future in taking down the one-man-army that stands in his way? In many ways, that one man is simply trying to find a way back to a sense of normalcy and to build upon that.

Gregg Keniston- Staff
January 18, 2020

1. Massive
2. Preaching To The Choir
3. Burning Alive
4. Line In The Sand
5. Dark Paradise
6. In Exile
7. Heading For The Stars
8. Broken Land
9. The Pulse


Book Review: Tom Petty and Me by Jon Scott

Publisher: Chickasaw Buddy Publishing, INC. (2018)
ASIN: 069209119X

Some of the best rock music you will ever hear was recorded by the late great Tom Petty. To reach that elusive plateau where you become a legitimate superstar, a household name, and all of your songs are instantly recognizable around the world, is for the few not the many.

There has to be at least one person to believe in you and dedicate their time and energy to get other people to follow. That is where it starts and hopefully grows exponentially. Things today are a world away from the days of DJs and A&R men to play music and push out to a listening public.

Jon Scott was one of those people that entered the life of Tom Petty that helped to get his music heard. The book by Jon titled Tom Petty and Me tells the trials and tribulations of making those important things happen for an artist back in the 70s. Against all the naysayers, negativity and the dreaded music consultants, Scott broke Petty, big time. Their first meeting was a bit rough due to ABC Records blowing off Tom’s first album, but things would change with time. Once Scott got Petty to believe in him it was like a fairy tale come to life.

I have enjoyed Petty’s music, particularly the first two albums. I did not know the back story of Petty and thanks to Jon Scott and the interview I had with him (included here) and reading his book, I know what happened and what it took to make things happen.

The book is an easy read, to the point, and very entertaining. It is not too long either so when you look at it, you’re not faced with a daunting task like reading something that may take you weeks or even months. This is the way a book about rock music should be written, short and sweet and to the point. And every chapter is like that, it does not drag and never once did I wonder when a chapter was finally going to end.

I have read my share of books about music over the years and Tom Petty and Me was one of the best and most memorable. Thanks to the interview that Jon so graciously provided, I was able to get to know him better, and while I was reading, find some of the missing pieces and details, he did not cover. The experience for this reader is now complete.

Tom Petty and Me is a must-have for any Petty fan or music lover that is interested in how things worked in the industry before the internet and Spotify. This is when people mattered the most and their influence was paramount in breaking an artist. The author’s account is heartfelt and honest, and there is no other way to slice it. I loved the book and how it shed the truth on all the people that played their part in the making of a superstar we will never forget.

Tom Petty was the real deal, a down to earth matter of fact Southern boy that found his way to stardom through a brother he did not know but came to know, Jon Scott.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
November 11, 2019

Review Provided By MuzikMan Reviews

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