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Mar 122012

The Grand Illusion / Pieces of Eight Live DVD (Eagle Vision)

Nostalgia is a powerful force especially in relation to rock music. Much of 70s classic rock has faded into obscurity and remembered mostly by the young generation of the time. Styx is a band that had massive commercial success in the late 70s and early 80s but its platinum albums are not given much critical merit in the scheme of things nowadays. A shame really.

So how does one approach a live DVD wherein the band reproduces two of these best-selling albums (viz The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight) in their entirety? Especially when the main player (i.e. Dennis De Young) is no longer on board? Purely I suspect only as a well-crafted instance of nostalgic entertainment.

I would confess to being a big fan of Styx’s recorded output of this special era and songs like “The Grand Illusion”, “Superstars”, “Come Sail Away”, “Sing For the Day”, “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” and “Queen of Spades” still resonate with me strongly. So with that in mind, I must say that as an exercise in nostalgia this DVD succeeds wildly.

To his credit, Lawrence Gowan has filled De Young’s shoes (as singer and keyboards player) very well and to such an extent that if you didn’t look at him, you’d never think that De Young was absent. Gowan is an excellent showman and he possesses all the chops to keep anyone from missing De Young. Whether this is a good or bad thing is hard to say actually!

To be fair, the concert overall is top notch with the songs re-produced perfectly. Considering all the work and effort that was obviously put into the show, one cannot fault the professionalism of all involved. The sold-out audience lapped it up eagerly and if this DVD somehow gets new music fans to check out Styx’s discography then at least something more than mere nostalgia would have been achieved.


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Mar 072012

Chronology DVD

Talking Heads. Now what more can one say of this iconic, legendary band? Especially when its legacy continues to seep into the contemporary indie-alternative rock scene. This DVD collects choice videos of the band: -

(a) from its early days as a trio (David Byrne – vocals, guitar/Tina Weymouth – bass/Chris Frantz – drums) in New York City’s famous CGBG where a shy Byrne never makes eye contact with the audience whilst nervously singing “Psycho Killer” and “The Girls Want to be with the Girls” to

(b) the accomplished quartet (with Jerry Harrison) as Byrne transforms into the confident frontman on classic Heads material like “Don’t Worry About the Government” and “Warning Sign” to

(c) morphing into a full-blown live act (embellished with backing singers, percussionists and extra musicians) with “Love –> Building On Fire” and “Burning Down the House”.

As a bonus, the DVD also includes a 35 minute South Bank Show documentary in 1979 and an interview with Byrne circa 1978. Not only that but every band member contributes to an audio commentary as well.

No other way to say this – if you’re a music lover, this DVD is essential.


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Mar 052012

We Come In Pieces DVD (Eagle Vision)

So if my recommendation for this live DVD is ‘strictly for fans only’ – would you take that positively or negatively? I mean, when you consider that UK trio Placebo has sold ten million records worldwide, then that’s a whole bunch of people who would be interested, right?

But seriously, as a non-fan myself, I found Placebo‘s androgynous image and 90s alternative rock approach enjoyable and interesting enough – especially as a sometimes Smashing Pumpkins listener – but beyond that I do not place much significance on the band in the history of rock music.

So definitely fans will want this excellent live recording of a 2010 gig in Brixton Academy with the highlights being lively renditions of “Nancy Boy”, “Ashtray Heart”, “Infra Red” and “Taste in Men”. Hardly essential but fans of 90s alternative rock will certainly want to check out We Come In Pieces.

Watch the trailer below.


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Jan 112012

Deep Purple with Orchestra: Live at Montreux 2011 (Eagle)

I’m sorry but for me the spine of Deep Purple has always been Jon Lord and Richie Blackmore. You can take away anybody else but once Lord and Blackmore are not part of the equation, to me it’s not Deep Purple. Of course, the current incarnation of Deep Purple has had Don Airey on keyboards and Steve Morse on guitars for some time now.

Worse still, based on this DVD, it really seems that singer Ian Gillian has lost his legendary vocal chops as well. Not that it matters to the sold-out crowd at this concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2011. To compound the problem, the band is backed this time by a full orchestra to provide horns and strings to classics such as Highway Star, Maybe I’m A Leo, Woman from Tokyo, Space Truckin’ and Smoke on the Water. It’s not hard rock anymore I’m afraid. It’s all very soft, wet and flaccid.

So in many ways, this like a Vegas show version of the legendary band and of course, they’re perfectly entitled to continue to tour and bring the classic rock repertoire to willing fans worldwide but I don’t have to like it. Strictly for die hard fans only.


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Dec 192011

SOME GIRLS Live in Texas ’78 (Eagle Vision)

The self-styled ‘Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World’ seemed to rejuvenate and reinvent itself in 1978 with the release of Some Girls, an album that incorporated elements of disco, punk and new wave into the Stones’ tried and trusted brand of blues-rock.

This DVD covers that special era in rock history – perhaps the Stones’ last great incandescent moment of glory before descending into self-parody since. The main attraction is concert footage from a memorable gig in Texas, where Mick Jagger and company pulled out all the stops to demonstrate that even in their 30s the band was still a potent force.

Aside from the new material (Eg. Miss You, When The Whip Comes Down, Beast of Burden. Far Away Eyes, Shattered and Imagination), the Stones also delivered their ‘greatest hits’ with the usual aplomb – Honky Tonk Women, Tumbling Dice, Happy, Brown Sugar & Jumpin’ Jack Flash.

Bonus features include contemporaneous clips from Saturday Night Live, 20/20 and a 2011 interview with Jagger. For classic rock fans everywhere.

Also worth picking up – the latest reissue of Some Girls which includes an unmatched collections of outtakes that no Stones fans would want to miss.


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Dec 092011

Lindsey Buckingham: Songs from the Small Machine, Live in LA (Eagle)

Producer. Singer-songwriter. Guitarist. Legend.

Whether as part of mega-band Fleetwood Mac or on his own as a well-respected solo artist, Lindsey Buckingham always delivered the goods. This DVD documents a show Buckingham performed in April 2011 in support of his last album, Seeds We Sow.

Consisting of two parts, the show opens with Buckingham literally solo with his acoustic guitar – the highlights being Trouble and Big Love – before Buckingham transforms into full band mode.

This is where the show truly takes off as familiar Fleetwood Mac tracks like Tusk, Go Your Own Way and key solo songs like Seed We Sow and Under the Skin get a solid airing. Spine-tingling moments abound with shimmering vocal harmonies, dynamic guitar work as well as Buckingham’s well worn tunes.

There is an excellent interview with the man himself as he shares about his musical history – from Buckingham/Nicks to Fleetwood Mac and beyond. Buckingham has intriguing insights concerning the success of Rumors, the story behind the making of Tusk and his writing process.

For true scholars of rock n roll, this is an essential one to take note of.




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Nov 302011


According to the publicity blurb on the DVD jacket, the concerts featured in this DVD have been lost for 50 years and just newly discovered. Which is certainly a boon not only for music fans but also historians. Filmed at the 1961 Antibes Jazz Festival in France, this DVD features the legendary Ray Charles in his prime.

Covering two sets on 18th and 22nd July respectively, Charles is backed by the original Raelets and run the gamut from jazz to gospel, from the blues to rock ‘n’ roll. Charles himself is the consummate musician, equally comfortable with solo piano as well as singing, there is no denying the genius of the man and the tremendous influence over the popular music of the decades that followed.

The visuals are in sparking black and white, with choice audience shots edited together efficiently. The sound is pristine and Charles performs some of his greatest hits viz. Let The Good Times Roll, Georgia On My Mind, Hallelujah, I Love Her So and What I’d Say. On the last track, it isn’t difficult to see the impact that Charles had on the likes of The Beatles, for example.

Of course, this is 1961 so there is none of the flash or the glamour of modern day live spectacles but none of this diminishes the power and soulfulness of the musicianship and showmanship. Utterly essential for all pop scholars.

Buy Ray Charles: Live In France 1961 from Amazon


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Aug 102011

DEEP PURPLE Phoenix Rising DVD (Eagle Vision)

Eagle Rock has been paying attention to the lesser known aspects of legendary British hard rockers, Deep Purple. Having recently re-issued the first three albums of the original lineup, Eagle Rock has now released (through Eagle Vision) Phoenix Rising: The Untold Story of Deep Purple Mark IV. This covers the brief period during which founding member Ritchie Blackmore had left Purple to form Rainbow and guitarist Tommy Bolin was brought in to fill Blackmore’s considerable void.

This DVD basically covers features a 30 minute previously unreleased live concert video filmed at the Budokan Hall in 1975 and a 80 minute documentary basically chronicling the numerous problems that beset this lineup of Deep Purple, including drug problems (bassist Glenn Hughes and Bolin) and especially a disastrous tour of Indonesia.

The live concert video is really purely for historical purposes as the quality (sound and vision) is rather poor, especially when compared to Mark II’s triumphant Made in Japan LP. Equally so is the documentary which feature in-depth interviews with keyboardist Jon Lord and Hughes where the focus is very much on the excesses of 70s rock. Both of these videos will probably only interest diehard Mark IV fans.

I guess Eagle Vision themselves sensed that what was on offer was a little light and so what does make the DVD intriguing are the two collectible booklets reproducing an original Deep Purple 1976 magazine and rare photos as well as original vintage Purple articles. Again, for fans only.

Buy Phoenix Rising at Amazon


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Jun 192011

DAVID BYRNE Ride, Rise, ROAR (Eagle Vision)

When it comes to concert films, ex-Talking Head David Byrne has of course been involved with the seminal Stop Making Sense (directed by Jonathan Demme) – and definitely knows about making the best out of the medium.

This concert film is unique in Byrne’s ambitious concept of mixing up his music with modern dance – resulting in a sinewy, kinetic display of sight and sound. Drawing from the classic Talking Heads repertoire (Once in a Lifetime, I Zimbra, Road to Nowhere, Burning Down the House, Houses in Motion, Life During Wartime and Heaven) and material from recent collaborations between Byrne and Brian Eno, there’s no denying the power and appeal of these songs, especially when combined with exciting dance movements.

A wonder and pleasure to behold.

Official Site

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