Monday 18 September 2023

Hush Money - US Rockers with Southern Style

Can you describe 'Southern Rock' ?  it is immensely difficult to nail it to a post because of
the differing styles of rock bands from the Southern states of the USA.  A band from the southern end of the Appalachian  mountains (Georgia, South Carolina etc)  Hush Money can lay claim to the geographical title of a Southern Rock band but that is not really telling you how they sound their songs on the new album Industry Standard  punch the buttons in the same way Skynyrd and ZZ Top do - with outright killer riffs, inspired lyrics  you can hear the influences of both those great bands but there is more. Some  will make you think of the era of the British Invasion with bluesy passages others have a distinct nod towards the later Beatles Sgt Pepper era.  

       When you start listening to the album some songs start quiet bluesy slow like ripples in a lake expanding in to  big waves of sound  filling and washing over ,  you  find the next song  lands like a float plane you hear the intro coming and then POW its all motion and action.  The changes in style through the album  are partly achieved by changing vocalists each bringing his own flavour into the songs. This makes it a little difficult to sum up the overall impression of the album,  I've not really had this issue since Slash released his amazing solo album which drew on the talents of his many friends to bolster the experience into something unexpected and great.  Hush Money have achieved an album that keeps you guessing they bring headbanger's tunes  like 'Devil on my Tongue' which surely must  get my denim brothers rocking,  then to the slightly slower 'Tied Down'  which is a pure stomping rocker. Then 'Still Around' is more core Southern Rock with a touch of  steeliness inserted    You have eleven songs to  enjoy on the record no duds and all very individual. Is there a stand out song in the bunch?  It depends on my mood  I have run through the eleven repeatedly attempting to pull out the plum and I probably have it down to 'Where It All Went Wrong' but that might just be the truck driver in me surfacing

Hush Money will be visiting the UK in 2024 and we are awaiting updates on the tour  latest news is they are confirmed for 
Call of The Wild  Festival, Lincoln  May 24-26th
A load of the bands earlier songs are available on YouTube including the album and  the kickass 
 Bourbon Street Queen
Industry Standard  

Friday 21 October 2016

Saxon on Tour (with special guests Fastway & Girlschool)

SAXON are heading to MANCHESTER Nov 2 with some very special guests!

SAXON play Manchester – Ritz with special guests FASTWAY & GIRLSCHOOL onWednesday 2nd November 2016

NWOBHM icons Saxon have announced 10 dates for the UK leg of their upcomingBattering Ram World Tour. They will be joined by  special guests Fastway and Girlschool for the much awaited shows, opening in Newcastle on 28th October. (all UK dates shown further below)

"Gonna be a great tour with Fastway and Girlschool” - said frontman Biff Byford. “I think this line up is unique, you don't wanna miss it.  Looking forward to battering some halls… Welcome to the metal church!

Battering Ram, Saxon’s 21st studio album, was released in October 2015 reaching the UK Top 50 and #12 in Germany. It was described by frontman Biff Byford as “a natural progression from Sacrifice” with “a bit less rock’n’roll and a bit more ‘heavy’ on it”. Following its release Saxon hit Europe with Motorhead for their 40th Anniversary tour, accompanied by Girlschool. 

Sadly, the tragic passing of Lemmy in December put an early end to the tour, and the UK leg planned to begin on January 16th was cancelled - bar a Saxon headlining show in Brighton.

Joining Saxon and Girlschool on the new dates will be Fastway, the brainchild of ex-Motorhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke with UFO bassist Pete Way.  The current line up features Fast Eddie Clarke with Toby Jepson(Gun/Little Angels) on vocals, Steve Strangeon drums and Mama’s Boys’ John McManuson bass.  More info on

Saxon released their self-titled debut in 1979, followed by “Wheels of Steel” the following year, which reached #5 in the UK charts and gave fans two classics in the title track and “747”. They established themselves as one of the iconsof the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal throughout the 80s. Later the band tried to attack the US market taking a more melodic direction with release of “Destiny” in 1988, before going back to their original sound with 1991’s “Solid Balls of Rock” , reaffirming their influence on the European metal scene. They continued touring and recording enjoying renewed success and released their current album Battering Ram in 2015.   They also recently released a 9 Vinyl album box set Eagles and Dragons containing the bands nine studio albums recorded between 1991 and 2009.

Saxon saw album sales topping 15 million worldwide including 8 UK Top 40 albums across their career. They are considered a seminal NWOBHM act and are known to have inspired the likes of Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Motley Crue and plenty more.

Wednesday 2nd November            
Box Office No: 0161 714 4140
Tickets are available from the following website –
Tickets - £26.00 Advance
Doors – 6.30pm

On 28.10.16UK - NewcastleAcademy
On 29.10.16UK - GlasgowABC
On 30.10.16UK - BelfastLimelightBuy Ticket
On 01.11.16IE - DublinAcademyBuy Ticket
On 02.11.16UK - ManchesterO2 RitzBuy Ticket
On 03.11.16UK - BristolO2 AcademyBuy Ticket
On 05.11.16UK - LondonO2 Shepherd´s Bush EmpireBuy Ticket
On 06.11.16UK - WolverhamptonWulfrun HallBuy Ticket
On 08.11.16UK - SheffieldO2 AcademyBuy Ticket
On 09.11.16UK - NottinghamRock CityBuy Ticket

For further information on SAXON, check out the following websites / social media links:

Website –

Facebook –

Twitter –  - ‘Battering Ram’ Official Video

 Marilyn Michaels 2016. .

Twitter :

CLASSIC ROCK RADIO social media links:



Tuesday 2 August 2016

Roger Corman_Charles Band_Kings Of Cult

31 July 2016
Uncle G's FUN Movie Reviews
Documentary: Roger Corman_Charles Band - Kings Of Cult (2016)
By: Gary "Uncle G" Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

                                      Photo: Charles Band_Roger Corman

Last September I remember being pretty excited to find out about a new documentary that focused on movie makers, Roger Corman, and Charles Band. Each having extraordinary careers, both of whom I've been following for decades now. Independent film legends. Between the two, their names are on a thousand or more … wait … let me correct that … hundreds of movies. The promo for this documentary states a "thousand mad mad movies", but according to the International Movie Data base (IMDb) website, here's their current score:

Roger Corman: Producer (412) / Director (56) / Actor (37).

Charles Band: Producer (270) / Director (50) … and he hates acting. Is more comfortable behind the scenes than in front of the camera.

Now, Mr. Corman who is now ninety years old, is just a few months shy of being twenty five years older than Mr. Band, so that gives him a somewhat advantage. Story goes Charles Band, whose father, Albert Band, was also a filmmaker, grew up watching many of Roger Corman's films. Has always admired / looked up to the filmmakers' work. And it shows in this documentary. From here the two 'Kings Of Cult', answer questions about their experience in the motion picture business. A lot of these, B horror flicks, which is what caught my attention. But check it out, Mister Corman done some outstanding action / dramas / comedies as well. Here's just a few titles (including horror):

The Fast And The Furious (1955) / A Bucket Of Blood (1959) / Attack Of The Giant Leeches (1959) / House Of Usher (1960) / Little Shop Of Horrors (1960) / Voyage To The Prehistoric Planet (1965) / Death Race 2000 (1975) / Eat My Dust (1976) / Grand Theft Auto (1977) / Piranha (1978) / Rock n' Roll High School (1979), and Sharktopus (2010).

Movie Poster: Grand Theft Auto (first film Ron Howard directed)

And just so we're on the same page , a few personal favorites of mine that Charles Band had a hand in:

Parasite (1982) / Ghoulies (1984) / Re-Animator (1985) / Troll (1986) / Puppet Master (1989) / The Pit and the Pendulum (1991) / Demonic Toys (1992) / Bad Channels (1992) / Head Of The Family (1996) / Hideous! (1997) / Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby (1999) / Gingerdead Man (2005) / Evil Bong (2006) / Dangerous Worry Dolls (2008), and Trophy Heads (2014).

Uncle G Discusses … Roger Corman_Charles Band - Kings Of Cult

Before making it's way to DVD, 'Kings Of Cult' debuted, having an exclusive showing on Charles Band's Full Moon Streaming (Dot Com). An Internet channel that for only around six bucks a month (current price), one can have access to a countless number of not only films Charles Band is associated with, but a ton of other B horror movie / sci-fi movie entertainment. A Netflix kind of service for the more freakier side of cinema. Full of the weird titles you use to be able to rent when the DVD / VHS rental business was still flourishing.

I got to see ‘Kings Of Cult’ by participating in a Fourth of July sale Charles Band Full Moon Direct (Dot Com) website was having just weeks ago. With every purchase they were giving away the documentary. Living in the mountains nowadays, trying to survive being separated / divorce proceedings, the Internet here is spotty at best. Doing any streaming service would kill the allotment of gigabytes I get monthly, in the matter of a few hours. So old school me is still doing DVD’s / Blu-rays. Even if I had the wireless Internet AT&T offered back when I was in Katy Texas, I really much prefer the physical discs. I think it’s cool still maintaining a movie collection. One can not only see the titles, but touch and feel the case they come in. So I ordered the last Evil Bong installment; Evil Bong: High 5, and got the ‘Kings Of Cult’ DVD for free. Pretty cool really. Let’s see Amazon (Dot Com) do that.

The 'King Of Cult' documentary besides showing a few quick clips from the two filmmakers hundreds and hundreds of movie credits, is mostly just a filming of Roger and Charles sitting in director chairs, being asked questions about various topics associated with what they are best known for. The interviewer (Jim Kunz), maintaining a casual off camera approach, does a very good job at bringing the viewer from the beginning of each man's appreciation of movies, all the way up to what projects they were currently up to when this documentary was filmed (2015). If a fan like myself of these two, an hour long session of one interesting story after another. Examples would be:

Charles Band reveals that Marilyn Monroe was his babysitter one evening. And how he grew up in Italy while his father labored at making motion pictures. His successes and failures following in his dad's footsteps. And one of my favorite stories. How himself and a pothead friend came up with the promotional campaign for Ghoulies; "They'll get you in the end."

Movie Poster: Ghoulies (1984)

Roger Corman talks about getting his start, being a writer, the 1960's, all the fabulous actors he's worked with over the years, up to his association with the SYFY channel, and what was then his latest movie for them; Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf (2015).
Uncle G Rates … Roger Corman_Charles Band - Kings Of Cults (2016)

Using the same ten star rating system that the IMDb website uses, whereas one star means it's too horrible to watch, to ten stars which means it's worthy of not only your disposable money, but your free time as well, I rate the Full Moon Features documentary Roger Corman_Charles Band - Kings Of Cult … 10 stars! Again, I've been a 'devoted' fan of these two for a long time now. Sure, not every movie they participated in was box office gold, but many of them just downright entertained the hell out of me. This documentary made an hour fly right by, and while glued to the widescreen, I forgot all about my personal life going to shit. For that I'm grateful. Thanks Full Moon Direct (Dot Com) for the freebie.

OH, regarding the count which I addressed in the first paragraph. I can't say for sure if the IMDb website statistics is one hundred accurate regarding how many individual movie titles these two gentlemen was responsible for since the both of them started out being involved with motion pictures. Even if not officially adding up to a thousand, I can safely say that if they included all the movies that were made that these two film geniuses inspired, that the count would be in the THOUSANDS. I offer thanks to both Roger Corman and Charles Band, for the world would be a much duller place without the celluloid art in which they both helped cheaply create.

For more information, please consult the following websites:

Monday 25 July 2016

Music Review_Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind
24 July 2016
Music Review: Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind (2016)
By: Gary "Uncle G" Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

Am pretty sure my admiration for progressive rock concept albums started back when I began seriously getting into collecting record albums.

As a kid in my single digits, and entering my teens, I had 45's (singles) of whatever bubble gum / novelty songs that caught my ear. At around age twelve, from hanging out with my school friends, and sometimes their older siblings, I became exposed to more of what they were playing on the FM radio stations, then the AM ones. Bottom line, rock n' roll was my thing. I'm drawn to music having a catchy melody, and many times over, with a solid beat.

My first real rock album; The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band (1967). Then came bands like Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, and Yes. Time wise for myself being the first half of the nineteen seventies. Records albums around then cost on the average of five dollars. Double albums more. To help keep in perspective, the minimum wage was under three dollars an hour.

My parents were both dead by my 12th birthday. I was thrown into foster care. No one gave me money. Having no real skills, I did what I could do to make a buck, so I could buy the things I wanted. This would include selling weed. A typical joint would go for a dollar. Rolling twenty in the morning, I'd have them gone by the evening. Doing that, and working full time as a dishwasher at age 16, I managed to keep myself in cigarettes, and I always had a pretty cool record collection. Saw a lot of concerts too. Even with not being able to play an instrument, music was definitely my thing.

An LP record as it was back then, and still is today, was typically a collection of songs. Whereas a single would play out, side A and side B at say ten minutes, an 33 RPM album would clock in playing both sides, at around two thirds of an hour. When playing LP's, I got into the habit of listening to the whole release, and wasn't into skipping around the record, only listening to the hits. Occasionally a song I labeled a stinker would be included in the mix, but I try not to focus on that too much, and just hang in there till the next track. This is where CD's were cool. One could program the player to not play a song(s) one disliked. No more having to walk over to the turntable, and moving the needle, if a song didn't interest you. I enjoyed the advancement in technology, but frankly it didn't really matter much to me. All that time I had trained myself to persevere, when I heard a tune I wasn't into. That and maybe I was too lazy to bother trying to learn how to program the newest advancements in playing music. Easier to put in the disc, press play, and let it go till it was over. I'm a CD guy nowadays. Vinyl to me, was always a pain in the ass. My CD count is in the thousands. And if a disc has more music on it that I don't like, more than I do, I simply just don't play it anymore.

One type record which was designed to be played from start to finish, and not skipped all around, was the concept album. This is where the lyrics were all about one idea. Like Yes' Tales From Topographic Oceans (1973). Some even told a story, such as Nektar's Remember The Future (1973), or Spock's Beard - Snow (2002). Many bands / musicians saw success doing this while others were mocked / laughed at; Styx - Kilroy Was Here (1983). My best loved concept albums were by keyboardist, Rick Wakeman. His 'Six Wives of Henry VIII' (1973),'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' (1974), and 'The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table' (1975), was one solid piece of work, after another. The subjects of each release intrigued me. I got into how the stories were presented, and of course I dug the music. Another one I could not play enough times by Rick was his 1977 release, Criminal Record. Yes' Chris Squire (RIP), and Alan White both contributed to this record. The album contained three thirds of what was then Yes. Squire and White was one of the absolute best bass / drum teams in all rock n' roll music. They played together in and out of Yes for over forty years. These guys were amazing!

Uncle G Discusses … Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind

First off, I became aware of Leon Alvarado a couple years ago. Was sent an EP CD he put out called, 'Music From An Expanded Universe', for possible review. I ended up doing so praising it not only for its musical contents, but it's cover art as well. A year and a half later (give or take) I get another package in the mail with Leon's newest release. A forty one minute full length concept album entitled, 'The Future Left Behind.' Includes guest players Billy Sherwood (Yes - Circa:) on guitar, and a legendary musician I already mentioned; Rick Wakeman. He's credited with a Moog solo on the second track (Launch Overture), and extra keyboards. Seeing how Leon plays keyboards himself, it's figuring out, and then knowing the different styles of the two men to guess who's playing where. The majority of the keyboard work is Leon. That much I know. Leon also takes care of the drum work. On top of that, the sci-fi story is by him, and he writes all the all the songs on 'The Future Left Behind' except for one where he shares songwriting credit. That would be with guitarist Johnny Bruhns (Circa:) on a number called; To Be Loved. An outstanding acoustic guitar number performed by Johnny, who appears on that one track.

What I labeled a sci-fi story, takes place in the 22nd century, if my calculations are correct. The Earth as we know it, has gone to shit. Blamed on pollution, and overpopulation. The wealthy get to live life anew, being blasted off into outer space, and living in one of the many huge space cities, that orbit our planet, and also that of Mars. A work in progress for those there, and also for the poor people left behind. For they need to come up with a solution to the planet's problems, or die trying. We learn all this through a narrator. No singing, thus not through lyrics. Instead in between instrumental tracks, we hear the story unfold before us. A brilliant job done by Steve Thamer, who at first listen I thought was Michael Dorn (portrayed Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation). Oops … my bad.

Music wise I have my favorite tracks. One would be 'Launch Overtune' that I also stated included the Moog playing of Mr. Rick Wakeman. Another song on here, 'The Ones Left Behind' reminds me of Rick, and his backup band; The English Rock Ensemble. And I really dig the last track; The Star Seekers.

Uncle G Rates … Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind

Using the one to five star rating system in which one star means it's absolutely dreadful, to five stars which means it's safe to spend your hard earned disposable cash on it, I rate Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind … 5 Stars! I wish in places it rocked out a tad harder. Genuinely, music wise, I find it hard to complain. Also, I can't say enough good words about the story. A solid futuristic, apocalyptic tale that inspires intelligent thought.

In closing, I strongly recommend to the consumer to shell out the extra money and get the physical CD. The total packaging really compliments what you hear. The artwork / photography stands out. Comes with a very well done booklet, that includes the story in written form, plus comic book illustrations. I can't say enough good things here. Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind, is really, really well done! Okay to buy the download as well. The rest so they say, is icing on the cake. 

For more information:

Sunday 17 July 2016

Interview_Neal Morse
Interview: Neal Morse (The Neal Morse Band)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

                                 Photo: Neal Morse

Intro: welcomes American multi-instrumentalist / singer / composer Neal Morse. A co-founder / past member of Spock’s Beard. A current member of progressive rock groups Transatlantic / Flying Colors. Has a successful solo career, in which Neal launched over a decade ago, a part of which consists of; The Neal Morse Band. The year 2015 gave us a new studio album written by all five members called; The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment. Was followed up by a successful tour. Now in 2016, stemming from that, a brand new 2 CD / DVD which includes a ‘making of documentary’ and the band in concert (same as audio). Also available on Blu-ray. Released by Radiant Records; The Neal Morse Band – Alive Again. It is our pleasure here at Classic Rock Radio to be able to ask Mr. Morse, some questions about this release, and of course while at it, some inquires about himself. Let us begin.

Q & A

Classic Rock Radio: The one hour and three minute long documentary, ‘Inside The Neal Morse Band 2015 Alive Again Tour’, covered roughly a five month time span. From a two day rehearsal with the band in Tennessee, to the end of the tour overseas. A brilliant fly on the wall look at what that was all like. One thing it didn’t address, was the creation of the set list. Now we’re told how your solo spot would change from one show to the next, with even the rest of the band members not knowing what you were going to perform each evening. The rest of the show seemed to be set in stone. Taking into account that you’re touring the group’s latest studio recording, The Grand Experiment (2015), so a given that some of those tracks get played, how did the rest of the song selections that made up the set list, come about?

Neal Morse: We kicked it around a lot, Mike always has a lot to do with the set lists. But, as I recall, on that tour we kept changing the encore slightly. But we couldn’t vary it that much as we had only learned so much material. But, I would say, as far as the set list goes, it was a band decision with Mike at the helm. As for my little solo acoustic spot, I really enjoyed changing that up every night. Some nights I didn’t know all the words, but it was still cool. It’s fun to be spontaneous you know?

Classic Rock Radio: Speaking of the set list, one song, ‘Harm’s Way’, was included from your time with the bearded ones; Spock’s Beard. Played flawlessly by The Neal Morse Band, as a matter of fact. Six Spock’s Beard studio albums to pick from, that you were involved with. It must have been difficult at best to select just one Spock’s Beard number, if that’s what was originally intended. Now keep in mind that I’m happy with your choice, so it isn’t like I’m complaining any. Why Harm’s Way?

Neal Morse: You’re right. We thought about a lot of different Spock’s songs to do. Someone suggested that one and I went with it because I can really feel that one right now for some reason. Some songs you really connect to at different times of your life, and that one I really felt connected to on the tour.

Classic Rock Radio: Do you think in future tours we might get to see The Neal Morse Band incorporate any Transatlantic, Flying Colors, or even a Dream Theater song into the show? Either answer, yes or no, could you please elaborate why?

Neal Morse: Sure! I’m sure we’ve done some Transatlantic before. At least “We All Need Some Light “and “Stranger In Your Soul”, but I can see us doing some of those songs. The reason why is because we all really love the music, and it’s nice to do some things that surprise the audience sometimes, and not just do your latest album. We always like to mix it up a little bit and I think the audience does too.

Classic Rock Radio: Speaking of Dream Theater, for those readers who are not aware of the story, how did you meet up with their ex-drummer Mike Portnoy, and how did it come about you two working together?

Neal Morse: Somewhere around ’97 or ’98, Mike called me on the phone. We had a mutual friend that gave him my phone number, and we had a very nice chat. I was really grateful because at that time he was saying such marvelous things about SB, I mean, he was just glowing about us in some of his interviews, so the first part of our conversation was me telling him how thankful I was that he was doing that for us! And then he mentioned that he was thinking about doing a side project with me and Jim from Fates Warning. Jim wasn’t available, and so I suggested Roine Stolt from the Flower Kings, and Mike brought in Pete from Marillion, and so Transatlantic was born. Since then Mike and I have made more than 20 albums together. Crazy, huh?

Classic Rock Radio: Hard to tell by just listening to the two audio CD’s that help make up The Neal Morse Band – Alive Again product. Yet another bonus of watching the DVD is witnessing your band do something I first saw done by progressive rock legends Jethro Tull, on their Songs From The Wood Tour. This would be the trading up of each others instruments. With y’all being skilled multi-instrumentalists, perhaps easy to do. For the audience, many fun moments. How did the idea come about to incorporate this bit into the show?

Neal Morse: Well, I knew right from the beginning that Eric and Bill were crazy good multi instrumentalists because when they auditioned on YouTube they sent in multiple audition tapes on different instruments. It was crazy! Plus they both sing great! Anyway, I always wanted them to show people all the ridiculous stuff that they can do, and Randy as well, while Mike goes to bass and me to the drums. Lots of fun! We call it the “switcheroo”.

Photo: Left to Right: Eric Gillette, Randy George, Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, and Bill Hubauer

Classic Rock Radio: Seeing the certain hardships one might encounter from touring by watching the documentary that is accompanied with The Neal Morse Band – Alive Again DVD / Blu-ray, can one say the recording process is understandably better than hitting the road supporting the album? Also, in the documentary, and I also just read a new interview with Ringo Starr where he pretty much said the same thing, that the hassles of traveling are all worth it, just for the performance. Besides being exhausted, how do you feel at the end of the night after the gig is over? Also, are you heavy into self evaluation?

Neal Morse: Of course, it depends on the show. But, generally I feel pretty good after our gigs. Sometimes it’s just an amazing experience! When the spirit and the music touches just right, there is nothing like it! And other times you feel like maybe you missed it a little. But I try not to do too much self-evaluation. Because, many times you’ll find out later, at a gig you thought didn’t go so well, that someone’s life was changed! So, you just gotta flow with it as best you can, and be glad you can do it all!

Classic Rock Radio: One more question from watching the ‘Alive Again’ DVD. When the camera’s turn to the audience, it’s hard not to notice many of them with cell phones in hand. What’s your opinion on the subject? Are you okay with fans taking pictures / recording audio / video while watching the show on their cell phone screen, or would you personally prefer they turn them off, and experience the concert without them?

Neal Morse: Personally, being someone who films a lot of stuff himself, I don’t really mind. I think it’s just the way things are now anyway. Actually, it was years ago now, but someone on a comedy website. It said something like “wrestling battle of the Prog all stars” and it said “here comes Neal Morse, weighing in at 300 pounds. 180 pounds of his natural weight, and 120 pounds of camera and recording equipment he has strapped to his body to film and sell it later on his website!” Haha! So, far be it from me to give anyone a hard time about filming things! God bless you all.

Closing: On behalf of Classic Rock Radio and myself, we’d like to thank you Neal for the time answering our questions, and we wish you much continued success in whatever the future holds.


Official Neal Morse Website:

Radiant Records:

Spock’s Beard Official Website:

Promotion: William James at

Photos courtesy of

Thursday 14 July 2016

Classic Rock Radio Movie Review - The VVitch_A New-England Folktale

14 July 2016
Uncle G’s FUN Movie Reviews
Spotlight: The VVitch_A New-England Folktale (2015)
Age Suggestion: 16+

By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

The odd spelling of 'The Witch' jumped out at me first; The VVitch. Followed by the subtitle; A New England Folktale. It certainly catches the eye, which I'm sure it was intended to do. I actually passed on this movie when first seeing it offered on Netflix, and then did so a few more times, before finally deciding to give it a go. After the third or fourth pass but continuing to notice the film's poster, I figured what the hell. And also, Netflix's summary sparked an interest. The story itself, takes place in the 17th century. After all, I am on record as saying I do like historical period pieces. It was also categorized, an indie horror movie, and as anyone knows who read my movie reviews before, know I also dig independent B horror films. Sometimes having less money, means the ones involved try harder. Doing more with less. Two quick examples; John Carpenter's Halloween / Sam Raimi's Evil Dead.

Opening up another browser, I decided to do a little more research before committing to the selection. I found out the film was released at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (Winner: Best Director), and then made available to the masses, the beginning of this year. Is said to have cost about three million to make, and up to this point, grossed over thirteen times that according to the website, Box Office Mojo. Out on disc a couple months ago. Putting everything together, 'The Witch' certainly met my criteria. Added it to my Netflix queue, and before I knew it, the Blu-ray was in my snail mailbox. That evening, having some candy and a cold drink, I watched the previews that were also on the Blu-ray, and then settled in to view the main feature. 

The story starts showing a family in a courtroom like setting, being banished from the Puritan colony, in which they were making a home. Possibly, a difference of opinion. The next scene shows a beat up horse and carriage departing the settlement and venturing off to parts unknown. Inside, a middle aged man of strict religious beliefs, his wife, their four children of various ages, and all their earthly belongings. Off they went, heading deep into the forest to find themselves a new place to call home. Upon finding land that the elders believe will suffice their needs, they settle in, building a home and farm in the process. At first, it appears to be the ideal life. The couple has another child. But all is not what it seems to be. For sharing the same woods as them, is a witch. The nastiest of it's kind. The newborn disappears. Their harvest is deemed worthless. An older child after going missing, returns naked and evidently bewitched. These chain of events, have the otherwise tight knit family unit, question their own past actions, and what children that are left, accuse each other of wickedness. And all while this is going on, they had best keep an eye on their outside critters. For one especially is keeping an eye on them. 

I conclude after seeing 'The Witch' that it was superbly written and directed. All by one man, Robert Eggers. Unbelievably, his first time receiving director's credit. The man hit a home run! Besides a well written story, 'The Witch' is spot on regarding its verbal and visual authenticity. And as for the horror aspects of it, I can say that what's brought forth on the screen is capable of sending shivers of terror down the spine of many. Frankly, I was not expecting a movie of such high quality. One would think it launched Mr. Eggers and all those associated career's, well into Hollywood's stratosphere.

Uncle G Rates … The VVitch - A New-England Folktale (2016)

Using the same rating system as the IMDb website uses whereas one star means it's horrible, to ten stars which signals it being the best possibly created, I give the indie motion picture The VVitch - A New-England Folktale … 10 stars! Regarding the actors, the one portraying the family, especially deserve high praise. And a tip of the hat for those behind the costumes. The sets as well. A well done job indeed! Count me as as to being a new follower of writer / director Robert Eggers. His solid script, and a vision as to how it should be filmed, clinched my regard as to The VVitch - A New-England Folktale, being a motion picture that if a fan of these type films, simply shouldn't be missed.

Blu-Ray: Includes very good bonus features, including a documentary called, "The Witch: A Primitive Tale", which acts as a behind the scenes / making of the film, and also a very informative half hour Question and Answer Session with experts from the time period (1700's), plus the writer / director, and one of it's stars, the very beautiful and talented, Anya Taylor-Joy.

Saturday 9 July 2016

New Music Review_MJ12 - MJ12_debut album 
New Music Review
Spotlight: MJ12 - MJ12 (2016 Gonzo Multimedia)
By: Gary "Uncle G" Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

The four man ensemble that makes up MJ12, are all seasoned professionals, and as a group, been playing together for some time now. A little experimentation at first with the drums and bass remaining constant, and others coming in and out of the fold. A good time, I assume was had by all, but still the bassist and drummer had their favorites. Two guys, and when all was aligned just right, the quartet was formed. Next came music, written to fit their style, and for two whole days in the summer of 2015, at Shelter Island Studios in Manhattan, the foursome banged out the nine tracks that make up MJ12's debut album.

For those wondering about the name of MJ12, I'll let bassist Percy Jones explain; "We took the name of Majestik 12, which was supposedly a group of 12 scientists and engineers assembled in the late 1940's to investigate unidentified flying objects."

Then Mr. Jones goes on about their being an ongoing debate as if the group actually existed or not. True or not, what a cool ID for a band. Their music, a combination of jazz / fusion / progressive rock. All instrumental, with catchy song titles like, 'Guns And Pussy.' A pretty solid track by the way. All about weapons and felines (insert smiley face).

So I mentioned the incredible bass player, Percy Jones. From Brand X fame. For the first time in years, Brand X is getting ready to go back on the road. I'll supply a link to a website at the end of the story so one can find out details about that. But don't stop reading this yet. For MJ12 is a quartet with three other musicians, who are all as equally talented as the legendary bassist. If I may introduce; Stephen Moses (drummer / trombonist), Dave Phelps (guitarist), and rounding out the band, a man who played in some of the best jazz bands ever assembled on the Earth, saxophonist Chris Bacas. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is MJ12.

Uncle G Discusses … MJ12 - MJ12 (debut studio release)

Starts off hot right off the bat with a number called; Call 911. You hear Percy and Stephen right away. An almost eight minute track. In parts, David's guitar smokes. If I was going to compare his playing to someone's, just to give you, the reader a good indication as to what I was hearing, it be King Crimson's Robert Fripp. The man's certainly no slacker. Equally strong contributions throughout the whole disc. As are Stephen Moses. A drummer whose worth finding out more about.

Icing on the cake is Chris' saxophone. Gives the music a different sound altogether in contrast to having a keyboardist, in which some of these fusion line-ups have, that I also dig as a rule. Moving onto other tracks, Chris' playing also adds in my opinion an avant-garde feel. Keeps things fresh, and not typical.

Eight more selections follow. Some moments sounding more traditional jazz, while others more experimental. The second song, Bad American Dream Part 2, starts off with that Percy signature bass playing. Each note played, deep with a profound sound. Slow and melodic. All three band members follow suit. At the three minute mark it's Geritol time. Guitar screams. Chris Bacus is wailing. Percy and Mr. Moses are right there. Another fun listen, and we're just two numbers in.

The longest track is next; Talk Time. Just over nine minutes. On the proggy side. Kind of has a sci-fi movie score feel to it.

The rest of the CD is a mixture of compositions with each one having a place for each member to stand out, and to also emphasize the fact that MJ12 is a group that's on top of their game. Includes the aforementioned Firearms And Vagina … oh wait … my bad … Guns And Pussy. Original compositions. All group composed except 'Talk Time' which was written by saxophone extraordinaire; Chris Bacas.

Uncle G Rates … MJ12 - MJ12

Using the five star rating system in which one star means it's bargain bin material, to five stars which means it's a serious must have, I rate MJ12's debut studio release … 5 stars! A fusion lover's delight! It's a very well done / good sounding instrumental record. Speaking of, it reads along with the credits; "Note: No compression was applied to this recording, so don't be afraid to crank it up." For followers of this type of music, you can't lose.


Brand X Official Facebook Page (reunion news):

Percy Jones Official Website:

To Purchase MJ12 CD: (USA and Canada) (Europe)