Sunday, December 18, 2016

RECORD REVIEW: Loretta Lynn "White Christmas Blue"

RECORD REVIEW
Loretta Lynn
White Christmas Blue
________________________

Like your favorite fuzzy sweater
on a cold winter's day, the latest
from Loretta Lynn is a holiday
treasure — one that's guaranteed
to warm your heart and your soul!
________________________

Her professional recording career spans nearly 60 years. And at 84, Loretta Lynn continues to produce impeccable work. In March, she released Full Circle — my personal pick for 2016's Album of the Year. Just seven months later, in October, Miss Lo-rett-ee returned to deliver a bona fide yuletide gem  White Christmas Blue.

Culled from the same Tennessee Mountain sessions as Full Circle, this down-home 12-song collection features newly recorded versions of several favorites featured originally on Lynn's only other holiday release, Country Christmas, back in 1966 — as well as a fistful of soon-to-be classics.

Check out Loretta Lynn's new
video for "Country Christmas."

Penned by Lynn and acclaimed Nashville songwriter, Shawn Camp, the title track kicks off the record with engaging authenticity. And while such lighthearted "seasonal" favorites as "Winter Wonderland," "Frosty the Snowman," "Jingle Bells" and  "White Christmas" certainly enhance the record's fun factor, it's Lynn's signature-style renditions of "traditional" standards, including "Away in a Manger," "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful" and "Silent Night" that provide the greatest payoff.

In sum, White Christmas Blue is a must-have addition to your holiday collection — a Five-Star winner, to be sure!

-Christopher Long
(December 2016)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

RECORD REVIEW: The Partridge Family "A Partridge Family Christmas Card"

RECORD REVIEW
The Partridge Family
A Partridge Family
Christmas Card
_________________________

Released 45 years ago,
this Christmas treasure
remains as fresh as ever.
_________________________

It was the #1 best-selling holiday album of the year — and for good reason. A Partridge Family Christmas Card was riding a tsunami of success generated by the band's highly-rated weekly sitcom when it first stormed into record stores during the fall of 1971. Overseen by legendary pop producer, Wes Farrell, this collection also is packed with many of the season's all-time most-loved standards. And it (still) zings with yuletide cheer.

Despite being a fictional, made-for-TV combo, The Partridge Family actually was legit in that the "family" matriarch and co-lead vocalist, Shirley Jones, already was an acclaimed singer and award-winning actress at the time the show debuted in September 1970. David Cassidy, the "family's" eldest sibling and frontman, had been anointed in short order as pop's latest and greatest singer / songwriter / musician / heartthrob — performing sold-out solo concerts worldwide by 1971. The Partridge Family's chart-busting records were equally legit — with Farrell at the helm, reeling in the best pop songsmiths of the day and such top-name session players as guitarist Louie Shelton and drummer Hal Blaine. And this was the exact template implemented in the production of A Partridge Family Christmas Card.

The sole new track (at the time), the Tony Romeo-penned "My Christmas Card to You," kicks off the festive celebration with a bang. Enhanced by Cassidy's warm and engaging vocal performance, this one shines brightest of the 11-gem, aural treasure chest.

With Cassidy's passionate vocals soldered sonically to the group's signature choral back-ups, string arrangements and crisp acoustic guitar picking, the Partridge Family version of "White Christmas".is (in my mind) undeniably the best ever.

Other noteworthy tracks include the high-energy, yet predictable "Jingle Bells," the late 60s-sounding soft pop remake of "Winter Wonderland" and the heartfelt ballad rendition of "Frosty the Snowman." But I'd be remiss in neglecting to offer Jones mad props for her superb job on the record-closing, hiss-glossed standard, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Simply put, I am a super-fan!
As an admitted lifelong Partridge Family super-fan, I'm rather embarrassed to confess that I only recently scored a copy of this nearly forgotten classic — lurking in the back of the budget-priced CD section at my local Walmart — for just $5. But fear not, fellow die hards, A Partridge Family Christmas Card is available digitally from iTunes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So — c'mon, get happy this holiday season!

-Christopher Long
(December 2016)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

RECORD REVIEW: Night Ranger "35 Years and a Night In Chicago"

RECORD REVIEW
Night Ranger
35 Years and a
Night in Chicago
Frontiers Music
________________________

Simply put, the latest from
San Fran's platinum-selling
powerhouse sells itself.
________________________

The secret to Night Ranger's success during the '80s was a no-brainer. Touting poster boy cuteness, the combo created consistent catchy arena rock anthems, punctuated by razor-sharp riffs and glossed with soaring vocals. Hence, the appeal of their newly-released "Best Of" live record is equally palpable — a superb recording of a superb performance, captured onstage in front of an turbo-charged crowd.

Released December 2, 2016 on CD, DVD and Blu-ray via Frontiers Music, 35 Years and a Night In Chicago delivers exactly what die hard Night Ranger enthusiasts would expect — hit after chart-busting hit, all performed to perfection, PLUS generous amounts of engaging, in-between-song chitter-chatter, resulting in a career-spanning, must-have, double-slab set.

Perennial members, bassist/vocalist Jack Blades, guitarist Brad Gillis, and drummer/vocalist Kelly Keagy lay it all out nicely with signature style, along with the assist from newer recruits, keyboardist Eric Levy and go-to guitar ace Keri Kelly — leading their energized House of Blues flock through a cavalcade of classics (and a fistful of more recent faves), including "Sing Me Away," "Sentimental Street," "When You Close Your Eyes," "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" and "Sister Christian." Apparently, you can still rock in America.

-Christopher Long
(December 2016)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Saturday, December 3, 2016

RECORD REVIEW: Enuff Z'nuff "Clowns Lounge"

RECORD REVIEW
Enuff Z'nuff
Clowns Lounge
Frontiers Music 
_________________________

The music of Enuff Z'nuff beams
joy and happiness into my soul.
It always has. Argh! It's times like
this, when really regret posting
my year-end "Top Ten Records"
feature too early in the season. 
_________________________

Contrary to (possible) widespread speculation, Enuff Z'nuff is not an '80s band although they did arrive on the international music scene during that era. They've never been a "hair band" either despite being packaged and marketed as one early on. Nor are they an "arena" band — yet their songs have always possessed a signature-style hypnotic hookiness. Actually, I believe the band can best be described stylistically as Cheap Trick-meets-Elvis Costello at a midnight showing of Magical Mystery Tour. And for longtime die-hards such as myself, the latest release from this crunchy Chicago-based power / pop / rock combo is a particular treat.

Released on December 2, 2016 via Frontiers Music, Clowns Lounge is a treasure trove of vintage Enuff Z'nuff material written and demoed during the band's early unsigned days  culled from "the vaults," re-worked, produced properly and served up hot & fresh as a fantastic "new" record. 

Given the time frame in which the songs were first created, the band's four original members bassist and patriarch Chip Z'Nuff, guitarist Derek Frigo, drummer Vik Foxx and frontman / vocalist Donnie Vie all make appearances on the record — and you can hear it in the grooves. But with the tracks having all been re-tweaked recently, Z'nuff's current line-up of guitarists Tony Fennell and Tory Stoffregen and drummer Erik Donner are also squarely in the mix.

The infectious, guitar-driven collection opens with one of the record's newly-created tunes — the psychedelic-sounding and seemingly "(I'm not Your) Steppin' Stone"-inspired, "Dog on a Bone." With Z'nuff at the helm, providing lead vocals, this one makes for quite a snappy kick-off. Another satisfying surprise is "Devil of Shakespeare." Recorded originally around 2004, it features Warrant's late frontman, Jani Lane on vocals, as well as Styx co-founder, James Young on lead guitar.

But make no mistake, Clowns Lounge IS a bona fide, authentic Enuff Z'nuff record. And in that regard, "Runaway," "Back in Time," "Good Luv" and "Backstreet Kids" stand out as the brightest treasures of this 12-gem chest  capturing EZ in all their classic era glory.

In sum, Clowns Lounge is far and away one of the year's most appealing offerings — one that I can't recommend highly enuff. A+

-Christopher Long
(December 2016)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

THANKSGIVING 2016: The Top 10 Things I'm Most Thankful For This Year

THANKSGIVING 2016
The Top 10 Things I'm Most
Thankful For This Year
________________________

My amazing son. my ripped
abs, Paul Stanley the list of
things for which I'm constantly
thankful is endless. However,
I'm particularly grateful to
have experienced these 10
super-sized blessings in 2016.
_________________________

10
POLAR POP

Any size ice-cold, refreshing soft drink
for just 79¢. Polar Pop — my personal
flavor of choice is Full Throttle.

9
STARBUCKS

It's my personal sanctuary and
social hub. It's where I go for my
"medicine" and also to enjoy daily
quality Bible study time. That is all.

8
THE STRUTS

I'd almost given up on rock and roll.
Then, I discovered The Struts.
Read all about it HERE

7
CASEY KASEM

An admitted teenage radio geek growing
up during the 1970s, I was addicted to
Casey Kasem's popular weekly American 
Top 40 program. And in 2016, I partied
like it was 1974 all over again — thanks
to iHeartRadio and my trusty smart phone,
I carried Casey and his classic show re-
runs right in my hip pocket — 24/7.

6
ARBY'S SLIDERS

Ham, corned beef, chicken — tasty
tiny gifts of goodness from God.
And usually just a buck a piece.

5
LORETTA LYNN

Thanks to her amazing new album,
Full Circle, Miss Lo-Retty was
back on my radar in 2016. In fact,
it was THE "Record of the Year!"

4
MAD MEN

Hello. My name is Chris.
And I'm a "Mad Men" junkie.

I've had TV service disconnected in my
home since 2008. As a result, I was
completely unaware of Don Draper and
the ad team at Sterling Cooper Draper
Pryce. But thanks to my tech-savvy
GF (and Netflix), that all changed in
2016, as I devoured all 92 episodes
of the award-winning series that ran
originally on AMC from 2007-2015.
Now, Draper is a household name.
At least in my household, anyway.

3
SOBRIETY

I'm not gonna get on my soapbox —
just wanna say that 2016 marked
Oh, sweet freedom — thanks, Jesus!

2
CENTRAL LIFE

The "C.L." are NOT my initials. They
stand for Central Life Church. With
two current Florida campuses —
Cocoa and Melbourne, "Central" is
a life-enriching, non-denominational
church that has nothing to do with
religion and everything to do with
Jesus. Yes, there's a BIG difference.
And 2016 marked my second full
year of claiming Central Life as my
church home. Why is church such a
vital part of my life? Simply put, church
is what activates faith. And "Central"
keeps me and my faith very active!

1
MY CHICK

I did NOT see it coming. But when I
heard that "still small voice" in 2016,
it SCREAMED — the voice of God
said, "Dude, I'm giving you an angel.
DON'T BLOW IT!" The rest of the
story is mushy and gushy, private and
personal. I'll just say that I love Diana
with all my heart. Thanks, Jesus. I
owe you — BIG TIME!

There ya go — my personal Top 10 best blessings of 2016. So, what are you thankful for this year?

-Christopher Long
(November 2016)

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

MY TOP TEN RECORDS OF 2016

MY TOP TEN
RECORDS OF 2016
_________________________

It's gonna get so crazy
all up in here next month
on The Show Biz Guru,
I've gotta run with my
year-end "Top Records"
list just a smidge early.
Spoiler alert: My personal
taste is rather eclectic.
_________________________

Discovering, and then writing about new music  it's what I do (from time to time). And in 2016, I was subjected to such a gawdawful bumper crop of aural crap, I've taken to jamming tampons into my ear canals as a means of managing the now incessant hemorrhaging caused by prolonged excessive abuse. But even in a year when the production of synthetic, soulless, computer-generated, lowest common denominator, syncopated nonsense seemingly has hit an all-time high, I still managed to spot a few sparking diamonds lurking in the rough.

10
Cheap Trick
Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello

Fresh and fun, snappy and happy, this 11-song collection represents Cheap Trick's strongest work since Busted in 1990. Straight-up and in your face, Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson deliver some of their all-time crispiest audio snapshots — while Robin Zander once again channels the charming, yet pissed-off 20-something powerhouse that we've not seen much of since One on One. It may not be Heaven Tonight Pt. II, but thank goodness, it ain't Special One Pt.II either. Read my full original review HERE.

9
Motörhead
Clean Your Clock

The untimely death of founding frontman / bassist, Lemmy Kilmister in December 2015, not only was shocking and tragic, the loss has left a void that won't likely be filled — ever. Given Motörhead's unparalleled reputation from decades of relentless touring, it's only fitting that the band's first release following Lemmy's death is a career-spanning live set. This blistering 16-tracker showcases a musical "burn" factor, searing hotter than ever. Read my full original review HERE.

8
Butch Walker
Stay Gold

Singer / songwriter / multi instrumentalist / producer / best-selling author, Butch Walker, can seemingly do no wrong in my book. Following the release of his darker 2015 record, Afraid of Ghosts, Walker returned in 2016 to offer his eighth solo effort, Stay Gold — a 10-song collection that (for the most part) points stylistically to his more high-energy, rock / pop-tinged past. While the Ryan-Cougar-Adamscamp-sounding title track and the Pretenders-flavored "East Coast Girl" make for tasty highlights, it's the record-closing acoustic ballad, "Record Store," that stands out (to me) as the most engaging of the batch.

7
Palaye Royale
Boom Boom Room

Before they even played a single note, I knew instinctively that Palaye Royale was gonna be something special, from the very moment they walked onto last summer's Warped Tour stage in Orlando. As it turned out, I was right. In a vein similar to The Stones' Sticky Fingers, the band's groovy 2016 debut delivers, in spades. Simply put, if "Don't Feel Quite Right" and "How Do You Do?" don't absolutely rock your soul, you might want to have an EMT check your pulse. But despite the record's undeniably traditional rock cred, as a guy who possesses a penchant for pop, "Ma Chérie" is my personal pick of the litter.

6
Green Day
Revolution Radio

Packing two fists full-o-fun, Revolution Radio is simply a solid rock record — an honest, natural-sounding slab — as if three old friends came together (with a huge budget) merely to make some great music without pretense. Read my full original review HERE.

5
21 to Burn
Two to the Chest

If only more AOR entrees today tasted as good as this one, I'd probably be able to choke more of it down. Simply put, 21 to Burn has what most of their contemporaries lack — quality songs. While much of their competitors' content sounds (to me) as if it was created from the neck up, this Florida-based combo oozes from the heart. And their gunky, chunky guitar work actually sounds like guitars — created by humans, as opposed to being stamped out by a machine. Highlights include the title track, along with the lead-off single, "Wait & See" and the heartbreak ballad, "Head Games."

4
Fit for Rivals
Freak Machine

Boasting ALL thriller, and NO filler, this crunchy new 10-track collection from Jacksonville's Fit for Rivals kicked me where it counts. In fact, Freak Machine is such an irresistible seduction, it's become my current go-to dirty pleasure — now living full-time in my car hi-fi, in my iTunes library, and in my mobile cellular phone device.

3
The Struts
Everybody Wants

I personally crave music that beams golden sunshine into my life — music that inspires me to seek intimacy with my girlfriend, as opposed to inspiring me to bury a body. I want songs that make me feel glad to be alive. I want songs that make me wanna sing and dance. Simply put, I want The Struts! (Doesn't everybody?) Read my full original review HERE.

2
Black Eyed Soul
Season of Self-Loathing

Knoxville's roots rock kingpin Black Eyed Soul returned in 2016 after an extended break to (finally) release album #6. Remaining true to the duo's impeccable Americana-style reputation, Andrew and Misty Marcus wrote, performed and produced Season of Self-Loathing entirely free of outsider fingerprints. And in the process, they've created what is arguably their finest work to date.

1
Loretta Lynn
Full Circle

Simply put, Loretta Lynn is a master storyteller — an artist whose compelling songs offer consistent, streak-free, mirror reflections of her personal real life experiences. Hence, her music is only enhanced as the years pass by. In fact, while some iconic artists flounder in their 30s and 40s, Lynn's work flourishes — in her 80's. Produced by her daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell and John Carter Cash (Johnny and June's boy), Full Circle is an epic showcase for a truly authentic artist who remains as relevant as ever — and one who can still wup the tar outta any of today's "new country" posers or modern-day "pop tarts." Highlights include, "Whispering Sea," "In the Pines" and "Everything it Takes" — the chilling duet with Elvis Costello. Songs so honest, vocals so pure, and fiddles, banjos and mandolins so sweet — Full Circle is easily THE record of 2016. And along with the Jack White-produced Van Lear Rose (2004), it's one of Lynn's two all-time best.

I hope you had fun with my little annual year-end wrap-up. And I hope that perhaps I've turned you on to some cool new music. Feel free to offer your top picks in the Comment Section below.

-Christopher Long
(November 2016)


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Saturday, November 12, 2016

MY COUNTRY: Check Out My New Radio Show — Launching November 27th!

MY COUNTRY
Check Out My New Radio Show
Launching November 27th!
__________________________

There are two things in life
for which I possess particular
passion  traditional-style
country music and radio.
Soon, these two passions
will collide in my latest
entertainment venture. And
I'm rolling it all out with a
little help from my friends.
__________________________

As a kid growing up in Missouri's Ozark Mountains during the late '60s and early '70s, I was raised on traditional, classic country music. Down-home artists such as Glen Campbell, Loretta LynnThe Statler Brothers, Charlie Rich, Buck Owens and Dolly Parton created the authentic soundtrack to my carefree pre-teen days attending various hayrides and hootenannys.

I also was fascinated by radio. And our local DJs were my heroes. As a result, I was thrilled to receive a call recently from Thomas Tritt at Real Country Radio the soon-to-be launched Internet radio network. To my surprise, Tom wasn't seeking my marketing  advice — he was calling to offer me my own classic country radio show. I accepted, post haste.

But what would I call this new weekly two-hour radio program? I thought back immediately to my favorite artists who made the music I loved as a kid — the songs that would comprise my show. The answer came to me in a flash. The name would be  MY COUNTRY with Christopher Long.

Now this is MY country!
I soon began putting together a playlist for my upcoming debut. But one guy does NOT a snappy show make. I was going to need the participation of at least a couple of creative and talented people in order to make the show really zing. So I started thinking about some of the hippest peeps in my circle and I reached out to my friend, Miss May. Having worked with May in various professional settings over the years, I knew that she had a passion for the music, she wasn't microphone-shy, and she would bring sparkling conversation to the show. I also knew that she'd have NO problem busting my chops on-air. In short, May "got it," and she accepted the offer to be my co-host.

I'm thrilled to be working my
fabulous co-host, Miss May.
But I'm an "old dog" who is challenged by the "new tricks" of today. As a result, I would also require the aid of a young, super-savvy production assistant. Introducing my good-lookin', young compadre, Vance. Like Miss May, Vance is one of my best friends and closest confidants. A bit of a tech geek, Vance has a firm grasp of all things media-related and he certainly knows his way around a production facility. We work well together and he's also not afraid to "let me have it" from time to time. Now this is gonna be fun!

DEBUTING 11.27.16
(This is gonna be fun!)
So, what can folks expect when they tune in each week? For starters, loads-o-fun! Our goal is to create a unique "house party" vibe in which listeners will feel right at home — as if they're hanging out with good friends, while we engage the audience with lively and compelling, "anything goes" conversations. But be sure, it's ALL about the music. It's ALL about MY country! Check us out, Sunday nights from 9-11 (EST).

- Listen Live: www.radioking.com/radio/real-country-radio
- Drop us a line: MyCountryClassics@gmail.com

-Christopher Long
(November 2016)


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...