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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).