DVD REVIEW: THE WHO – LIVE IN HYDE PARK

The Who Hyde Park

Nostalgia has been defined as “a sentimental longing for the past” and is usually associated with feelings of melancholia and loss. Music plays a big part in aiding human beings in re-creating a sense of the past that is long gone. Does this hold us back? In the sense that we are unable to move forward OR does looking back at the past give us impetus & inspiration for the future? It depends on intent and purpose of the individual but I’d like to believe that it is the latter case.

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MUSIC NEWS: BEATLES 1 TO BE RE-ISSUED WITH RESTORED VIDEOS

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It has been 45 years since The Beatles broke up but the Fab Four still set the standard for pop success – which explains its continued relevance and appeal in 2015.

1 was a compilation album, originally released on 13 November 2000. The album featured virtually every number-one single released in the United Kingdom and United States from 1962 to 1970 by the Beatles. Issued on the 30th anniversary of the band’s break-up, 1 was their first compilation available on one compact disc. 1 was a commercial success, and topped the charts worldwide. 1 has sold over 31 million copies.

This November, Apple Corps Ltd/UMG will re-issue 1 but this time, also with a comprehensive restoration of the promotional films and videos of The Beatles #1 songs after the band had stopped touring in 1966. Thus, the re-issue will come in CD, DVD and Blu-ray formats and will no doubt satisfy Beatles fans, old and new.

I have seen restored clips of “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” (see below) and they look crystal clear – almost as if seeing them for the very first time. It is good to know that The Beatles continue to be recognised for being ahead of their time and provide a benchmark for all pop artists to emulate.

DIO: LIVE IN LONDON HAMMERSMITH APOLLO 1993

Apart from his somewhat diminutive stature, the late great Ronnie James Dio was the quintessential metal frontman, even laying claim to pioneering the use of the ‘horns-up’ gesture (though a certain Gene Simmons would quibble with that claim). Little doubt though that Dio, with bands like Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio, was responsible for some of the most iconic hard rock songs ever. And this is clearly evident on this previously unreleased concert film from two decades ago, which documented a reformed Dio performing in support of its Strange Highways album.

The quality of the concert film might not grainy but it is exciting to watch Dio not only play its best known numbers like “Stand Up and Shout”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “Holy Divers” but throw in a couple of Black Sabbath (“The Mob Rules” and “Heaven and Hell”) and Rainbow (“The Man on the Silver Mountain”) tunes as well. There’s a bonus of behind the scenes the footage which is perfunctory at best.

Absolutely essential for hard rock lovers!

 

 

 

THE WHO – SENSATION: THE STORY OF TOMMY [DVD REVIEW]

What else can you say about Tommy? Well, if you are a diehard classic rock fan, then this documentary endeavours to be all you really need to know about The Who‘s famous rock opera. And the documentary certainly spares no detail in getting the story right. Interviews with survivors who were instrumental the creation of the album – Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Chris Stamp (ex-manager), Bob Pridden (sound engineer), Mike McInnerney (cover artist) – provide the historical background for how the album came about, the individual tracks themselves and the post-release impact.

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GEEK OUT!

JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR

I suppose I am a bit late to DC’s New 52 concept which rebooted the company’s entire superhero line but the very idea repulsed me back then, so you will forgive me if I decided not to indulge when it all went down in 2011. The direct-to-video animated movie, Justice League: War, represents the first movie adaptation of the New 52 series (in particular, Justice League) and thus, I thought it would be an appropriate time to give my 2cts worth on this latest reboot.

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THE DOORS: R-EVOLUTION [DVD REVIEW]

Suffice to say that The Doors is one of the most important rock bands ever and if you’re a rock lover/scholar then one just cannot get enough of this seminal outfit. This DVD strings together The Doors’ use of the visual medium to convey not only commercial messages but also the core values of the band. From its earliest music with awkward TV appearances (John Densmore has hardly enough time to get behind his drums when “Light My Fire” kicks in on American Bandstand!) and innovative music film, The Doors quickly realize the potential of the visual medium as an additional promotional and creative avenue – Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek were film students after all. Bonus material include outtakes and a documentary recounting how The Doors began to use film to highlight their talents. Essential.

CARO EMERALD IN CONCERT [DVD REVIEW]

Alright. In the booklet insert, there are claims that Caro Emerald‘s music is some unique hybrid of jazz and hip-hop. But clearly, it isn’t! Which is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to bios and press releases that do not tell the truth! C’mon!! At best, Emerald is a jazz-pop singer, and regular visitors will know that that is one ‘genre’ I find particularly risible. It positively reeks of entitlement, designer clothes and 1 percenters. Of course, these are all gross generalizations but I guess you should not have started this argument with this talk of a jazz/hip-hop hybrid then!?!?! Sorry if this is a negative review (something I personally try to avoid) but this is such pretentious bullshit. Avoid.

 

 

 

CLIFF RICHARD: STILL REELIN’ AND A-ROCKIN’ – LIVE IN SYDNEY [DVD REVIEW]

There’s little doubt that Cliff Richard is the one true Peter Pan of pop music. Now in his early 70s, he still looks and sounds good enough to belt out his famous hits in his own inimitable way. The set list on this performance video is dominated by his earliest numbers, like “Livin’ Doll”, “Move It”, “Young Ones” and “In the Country” etc but as well as the obligatory 70s songs like “Devil Woman”, “We Don’t Talk Anymore” and “Wired for Sound”. Naturally, unless you are a diehard Richard fan, there is nothing much here for even the most studious of rock scholars. It’s all rather glitzy and entertaining – not necessarily a bad thing but Richard represented the musical establishment that the likes of The Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks et al would soon overturn and by now, it’s appeal is limited at best.

DREAM THEATER – LIVE AT LUNA PARK [DVD REVIEW]

This live performance film from Luna Park, Bueno Aires, captures Dream Theater Mark II as the band tours 2011 album A Dramatic Turn of Events. After having drummer Mike Portnoy leave the band a year earlier, as explained in the documentary bonus feature, Dream Theater was revitalized with the recruitment of Mike Mangini and the subsequent release of A Dramatic Turn of Events. Judging from the album and this concert film, Mangini has assisted to reshape the band’s sound towards progressive metal, which has certainly not hurt the band’s reputation. Mangini in facts takes centrestage quite a bit with his enigmatic style. No slouch in the virtuosity department, Mangini more than keeps up with his illustrious partners viz. guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung and keyboardist Jordan Rudess. That all said, it does seem at times that singer James LaBrie is unsuited for this change of direction but there’s little doubt that he still makes the material his own. Dream Theater fans will not want to miss this as the band goes from strength to strength.

BRYAN FERRY – LIVE IN LYON [DVD REVIEW]

When Bryan Ferry burst onto the UK scene as Roxy Music’s leader/singer in the early 70s, the band found itself branded as somewhere between art-rock and glam. However, as the band evolved from a progressive rock to a sophisticated pop outfit, its image would also change from quirky to glamourous and chic. Ferry himself has always been the epitome of rock cool – inspiring numerous followers in the 80s New Romantic movement – and even though he is in his late 60s, he has lost none of these indelible qualities as evidenced by this live performance recording. Naturally, the man has put on quite a few pounds and there are wrinkles all over his visage but there’s no mistaking the fact that Bryan Ferry’s stage presence and attitude is still able to capture the attention of a modern audience. This solo performance finds Ferry and band (not forgetting sexy dancers and backing singers!) cherry picking from his illustrious career including Roxy Music hits, solo favourites and interpretations of the Dylan songbook. Bonus feature – Making of Olympia (Ferry’s most recent album).

SPRINGSTEEN & I [DVD REVIEW]

The true measure of a rock star is the kind of fans he or she has. Springsteen & I is a documentary with a difference – it was made for Springsteen fans by Springsteen fans! By the end of the documentary, you will be convinced about the depth of love and passion that Springsteen fans hold for their icon. Judging from the diversity in age and nationality, it’s clear that Springsteen’s appeal covers a broad range of fans. This special connection is what makes this documentary unique. Also worth checking out – numerous previously unseen archive footage of performances from throughout Springsteen’s career. The DVD bonus features include performances from 2012’s Hard Rock Calling (including two songs with Paul McCartney) and fan homemade video submissions.

THE FREDDIE MERCURY TRIBUTE CONCERT DVD [REVIEW]

Virtually impossible to watch this without the inevitable lump in throat and teary-eyed response. The measure of love, admiration and respect that the late great Freddie Mercury and Queen engendered amongst their peers is plainly obvious judging from the stellar lineup of this tribute concert.

This 3-DVD collection contains the whole shebang – the opening acts (Extreme does an awesome Queen medley), the main event itself (simply mind-boggling from start to finish) and a bonus DVD of extras (10th anniversary documentary, rehearsal performances and photo galleries).

Simply essential for the diehard Queen fan.

MORRISSEY: 25LIVE [DVD REVIEW]

MORRISSEY 25Live

Halfway through this concert film before singing The Smiths’ classic, “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”, Morrissey announces to his rapt audience that he loves them and definitely the sentiment comes across as genuine and heart-warming. Which summarizes the appeal of the English singer, 25 years since he first launched his solo career after the demise of his legendary former band.

This memorable gig – filmed at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles (where Morrissey currently resides) – finds the 56 year old in fine fettle performing solo faves like “Alma Matters”, “November Spawned A Monster” and “Everyday is Like Sunday” and of course, Smiths classics like “Still Ill”, “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore”, “Meat is Murder”, “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” and “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side”.

Morrissey showcases four new tracks on the bonus feature, live recordings of “The Kid’s A Looker”, “Scandinavia”, “Action Is My Middle Name” and “People Are the Same Everywhere” produced by Tony Visconti. By the sounds of things, the next Morrissey album is going to be one to look out for…

FILMWATCH

A quick wrap-up of non-geek films that I had the chance to watch in the last week or so. No detailed analysis, merely impressions. 

I was pleasantly surprised by this. I mean, for the first 30 minutes it really seemed so cliched but then a significant plot point was delivered and The Place Beyond the Pines became a totally different film. Ambitious storytelling that moved from one lead character to another, I loved how the film communicated the role of fate (or destiny) in our lives and how the sins of the father do sometimes visit the sons. Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper were competent and Ray Liotta does what he does best. Was disappointed with Eva Mendes though and Rose Byrne was non de script as well. Maybe the parts written for them did not do their abilities any favours. Recommended.

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PAUL MCCARTNEY AND WINGS: ROCKSHOW DVD

It’s almost impossible for me to be completely objective about Paul McCartney & Wings and this particular DVD. After all, Wings Over America – the live triple album that was released from this tour was one of my very first album purchases as a wide-eyed 15 year-old fledging rock fan.

So it’s full-blown nostalgia as I watched this recording of the concert in Seattle in 1976 where 67,000 fans witnessed McCartney & Wings deliver 28 songs including not only the band’s greatest hits but also tunes from McCartney’s Beatles songbook!

Some of my favourite versions of McCartney’s material are featured here – “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “The Long and Winding Road”, “My Love”, “Let Me Roll It”, “Live and Let Die”, “Letting Go” and so on. Supported ably by arguably the best Wings lineup – Denny Laine, the late Jim McCulloch and Joe English – not to mention a crack horn section, Rockshow is a historic document that is wonderfully presented for audiences (old and new) almost forty years later.

Highly recommended – but you knew that!

HISTORY OF THE EAGLES: THE STORY OF AN AMERICAN BAND [DVD REVIEW]

There can be no doubt about The Eagles‘ place in rock history. Biggest selling album of the 20th century, inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, a comeback album that sold in excess of 5 million in these troubled times for the music industry and a best-selling live show that continues to run and run.

Not to mention, a sideshow of controversy that has dogged the band despite the absolute highs. The high profile suit by former member Don Felder against The Eagles and the publication of Felder’s ‘tell-all’ book, Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974 – 2001) has tarnished somewhat the reputations of Don Henley and Glenn Frey (the co-leaders of the band) but that has not stopped the musical juggernaut from continuing to pull in the big bucks.

This documentary – as you might imagined – tells the story from Henley and Frey’s perspective. Both men are rather dismissive about Felder in the interviews and Frey evens gets in some descriptive expletives for good measure. The fact that the duo come across smug and self-righteous leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.

The first DVD recounts the band’s rise to fame and implosion in 1980 with rare footage and incisive comments from the key players. The second DVD recounts the band’s even more impressive comeback beginning the Hell Freezes Over tour in 1990.

Of the two DVDs, the first one is the most exciting as one gets to witness the making of iconic songs (“Take It Easy”, “One of These Nights”) and albums (Hotel California) and how Henley and Frey went from backing Linda Ronstadt to having the best-selling album of the 20th Century – Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975). The second DVD, well, is simply too sanctimonious at times with the unwelcome sight of Henley and Frey justifying their arrogance – rather unwatchable at times. Overall, the excellent first DVD is worth the price of admission though.

Buy now!

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THE DOORS: LIVE AT THE BOWL ’68 [DVD REVIEW]

As rock n’ roll history moves further and further away in time from its origins, live recordings of epochal performances become our relics of a Golden Age that we will never ever see again. The rock n’ roll world in 2012 (if we can even call it that) is completely unrecognizable from the late 60s rock & pop scene inhabited by The Doors. Watching this remarkable restoration of an incandescent concert film recorded 44 years ago in Los Angeles, it’s uncanny how ageless the band, its music and especially the legendary Jim Morrison comes across.

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PAT METHENY – THE ORCHESTRION PROJECT [DVD REVIEW]

Virtuoso award-winning guitarist Pat Metheny explains what his “Orchestrion Project” is all about –

“Orchestrionics” is the term that I am using to describe a method of developing ensemble-oriented music using acoustic and acoustoelectric musical instruments that are mechanically controlled in a variety of ways, using solenoids and pneumatics. With a guitar, pen or keyboard I am able to create a detailed compositional environment or a spontaneously developed improvisation, with the pieces on this particular recording leaning toward the compositional side of the spectrum. On top of these layers of acoustic sound, I add my conventional electric guitar playing as an improvised component.

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QUEEN – GREATEST VIDEO HITS DVD [REVIEW]

Regular visitors to PoP will be more than acquainted with the fact that Queen is one of my favorite rock bands of all time. Music videos have always played a significant role in Queen’s success and finally almost all of the band’s promotional videos have been compiled and collected into one 2-DVD set for fans to savour. All the videos are restored and shown in 16:9 widescreen and audio has been remixed for DTS 5.1 Surround Sound. Also includes audio commentary from Brian May and Roger Taylor (even snippets of interviews with Freddie Mercury as well).

If you’re a Queen fan, I don’t really need to sell it to you, do I?

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PINK FLOYD: THE STORY OF WISH YOU WERE HERE

SHINE ON!

As a card-carrying Floyd geek, there’s precious little that I don’t know about the band after years of reading books and viewing documentaries. But I always welcome new documentaries that share further insight into the rock phenomenon that was Pink Floyd. On this occassion, the focus is on the 1975 album, Wish You Were Here, which just might be my favourite one of the lot – and that’s really saying something!

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GEEK OUT! SUPER

 

Super is a low budget indie film that never got the same kind of attention that similar super-hero themed movie Kick-Ass got. The parallels are somewhat superficial – both movies are about ordinary folk who put on costumes to fight crime but they are stand-alone films in their own right. I loved Kick Ass (read my review) and as much as I wanted to like Super (it’s got Ellen Page!), it’s just too much of a narrative and conceptual mess to truly fully enjoy.

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ONE DIRECTION

One Direction: Up All Night – The Live Tour DVD Premiere Screening 23 May 2012

On walking into the Festive Grand Theatre in Resorts World Sentosa I was immediately faced with a churning mass of lightstick-wielding screaming teenaged girls (and a few boys, to my slight amusement). Fans of One Direction – they call themselves Directioners – are notoriously enthusiastic, to put it lightly… but then again, aren’t all fans?

91.3FM’s Boy Thunder, himself a proud Directioner and outfitted in some sort of replica of 1D member Louis Tomlinson’s signature striped getup, hosted the event. Before the actual screening, a group of fans, who had sometime earlier on done a flash mob that was sent to and apparently seen by the guys of 1D, came out to lead everyone in a dance to a medley of 1D songs. The atmosphere was undoubtedly contagious, the crowd being made up of contest winners and the like (i.e. really dedicated fans).

On to the screening!

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SANTANA

Greatest Hits: Live at Montreux 2011

I’ve lost count of the number of DVDs that Eagle Vision has released which feature live performances of Carlos Santana but this definitive ‘Greatest Hits’ two-DVD set probably the best one yet! But seriously, there is not much else to say about Santana – he is a guitar legend that has transcended his roots in San Francisco’s 70s psychedelic hippie scene to become a worldwide mainstream rock phenomenon.

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