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UFOUFO
Too Hot To handle (1969 - 1993) (Wienerworld)

Rock and roll’s perennial nearly-men UFO have written some good (albeit lyrically pretty adolescent) rock songs in their time - ‘Rock Bottom’, ‘Doctor, Doctor’ and ‘Let It Roll’ are all rock radio staples – but even the most rabid UFO fans will agree that certain albums and line-up’s over the years have been a little pedestrian, fear not though as loads of the terrific live footage here is from the classic line up featuring UFO mainstays Phil Mogg, Pete Way and guitar wizard Michael Schenker which neatly outlines just what a good band they were in their day (can’t imagine they look back at their stage clothes with any fondness mind). Interspersing the live footage with the bands history as told by Mogg, Way and Schenker plus guest talking heads, including Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot and Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, the real story (which got pretty bloody) sadly lurks behind some polite reminiscences only occasionally surfacing in the odd barbed dig (read Neil Daniel’s biog for a more in depth look the bands penchant for self-destruction). Extra’s include some surprisingly muscular footage from a later Donington show (2001), featuring Mogg, Way, Schenker and Uli Jon Roth.
Ray Harper

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Elton John Elton John
The Million Dollar Piano
(Eagle Vision)

As you might imagine, given that ol’ Reg is the king of bling, the title of this DVD does indeed refer to the cost of the piano used throughout the show (in fact it cost 1.4 million, but the one million four hundred thousand dollar piano doesn’t have the same snappy ring), and it is a pretty natty piano with all manner of lighting shenanigans scooting up and down it’s grand exterior which, when synced up to the eye candy-esque strewn stage set, hugely lavish lighting and impressively choreographed video backdrops, make for a genuinely bonkers show, but perhaps the best thing of all is the hefty clutch of terrific earlier material that pepper a set built around all of the hits, and if he can’t quite hit some of the higher notes nowadays he’s still got a strong enough voice and the confidence to carry off any slight vocal rejigs which ensure all the songs ring true. It may have been some time now since he has released any truly exceptional new material, but with a back catalogue like this who cares? Great songs, great performances and a great show, can’t ask any more really..
Ray Harper

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Randy BachmanRandy Bachman
Vinyl Tap Tour
(12 Hit Wonder/Farpoint)

Aaron ‘Ventian Snares’ Funk may have taken against his hometown of Winnipeg (check out 2005’s delightful Winnipeg Is a Frozen Shithole for more on this subject), but one thing of which the Canadian province of Manitoba can be rightly proud is being home to the mighty Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and whilst Randy Bachman is without Fred Turner and Arthur Overdrive (umm, are you sure about this? – Ed) on this solo set some BTO tracks do appear, as indeed does material from even earlier outfit Guess Who alongside a whole lot of pre song reminiscing, but as the DVD subtitle is Every Song Tells A Story this is flagged up early on as an evening of chat and music and Bachman fans were doubtless delighted to hear the roots of some of their favourite tunes. Bachman is an easy going likeable raconteur and the whole thing slopes along nicely and yes he does play, and give us the back story to, ‘American Woman’, ‘Takin' Care of Business’ and ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ alongside many more. Also includes a CD version shorn of the chat. As Smashy and Nicey would probably say, ‘let’s rock’.
Ray Harper

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SepulturaSepultura & Les Tambours Du Bronx
Metal Veins: Alive At Rock In Rio (Eagle Vision)

Many of you will doubtless already be aware that Sepultura are a Brazilian thrash metal outfit (now fronted by an American vocalist Derrick Green after founder member Max Cavalera’s departure in 1996) but not so many will be aware that Les Tambours du Bronx (the Drums of the Bronx) are a seventeen piece French industrial percussion band created in 1987 who pummel seven shades of shite out of spray painted 225 litre oil drums (none of which last more than two performances) and this DVD is the result of the two bands live hook-up at the Rock In Rio festival and where better to marry thunderous thrash metal with equally thunderous walls of percussion than in the home of the bateria and some of the world’s most rabid metal fans? Chances are if you don’t like your metal high speed and grunted or aren’t a fan of clonking great walls of percussion then this ain’t for you, but if you have always wondered how you can make heavy metal even heavier (which in this case entails hitting lots of heavy metal very, very hard), then you will find plenty here to goosebump your arm hair’s and royally piss off the neighbours.
The Oracle

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The Australian Pink Floyd ShowThe Australian Pink Floyd Show
Eclipsed By The Moon (TAPFS Europe Ltd.)

With a new(ish) Pink Floyd album galloping over the horizon (albeit one featuring old material buffed up as a tribute to the late Rick Wright), you might imagine that Gilmour, Mason and Co. are considering one last live hurrah in support, but not a bit of it, this it seems is the bands final hurrah. Fear not however as whilst the genuine article certainly seem, for the foreseeable future at least, done and dusted their Aussie counterparts are far from finished with this classic material, this particular DVD documenting their 2013 tour performing Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety (with a second disc of cherry picked PF delights), and, as always, the music is pretty much spot on and the staging equally impressive (still laugh every time I see that ‘Flamin’ Roo). There are good cover bands and there are bad cover bands but only occasionally are there great cover bands and the Aussie Floyd belong firmly in the latter select little enclave injecting just enough smart little antipodean touches to inject new life into classic tracks. If you want the full Floyd experience you really can’t do any better than these guys and gals.
The Oracle

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Peter GabrielPeter Gabriel
Back To Front (Eagle Vision)

Even back in the days of no budget stage productions in scratty venues and on college tours, Peter Gabriel understood the notion of ‘a show’ and whilst his denim bedecked Genesis compatriots either sat or remained immobile Gabriel would be found sporting increasingly outlandish costumes whilst miming mowing lawns. It was no surprise then that when he went solo the augmenting of recorded material with meticulously planned live set-pieces was taken to a whole other level, and whilst everyone else opted for enormous banks of lighting rigs Gabriel opted for subtly choreographed stage movements, spending chunks of the show in the audience, riding bicycles, singing in phone boxes, clever use of colour and loads of humour. Basically you can pick pretty much any of Gabriel’s live DVD’s and you are in for a real treat but this (ostensibly a celebration of the 25th anniversary of his most successful album So filmed at the London O2), harks back to previous productions whilst cleverly updating them and includes several new songs alongside acoustic versions of old favourites, all the hits and of course we get So in its entirety. Oh and of course everything is played brilliantly by Gabriel’s 1987 superb touring line-up.
Ray Harper

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Roger Chapman & The ShortlistRoger Chapman & The Shortlist
Live At Rockpalast - Hamburg 1979: 1DVD +2CD (Repertoire Records)

OK, cards on the table here, the lines ‘wo-oh, rolling and tumbling sure ain't done me no harm’ bellowed by Roger Chapman in Family highlight ‘Burlesque’ are one of this writers top ten moments in rock music, so I guess I’m a bit biased where the delights of Chappo’s voice are concerned. Not everything Chapman has released has found its way into the Harper household mind (there are some decidedly middling Streetwalker albums), but I’m certainly predisposed to that gravelly warble and I’m delighted to say that this live set delivers in spades. Recorded in 1979 the set is composed mainly of tracks from his first solo album Chappo - which some fans had found a little too polished - all of which are given extended, far grittier ‘rock and soul’ review style workouts here thanks to a terrific band and Chapman himself being in fine vocal form. Even more of a delight is a very rare dip into the Family back catalogue for yup, you guessed it, ‘Burlesque’ which positively sizzles plus a high speed vamp through the Stones ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’. The box also includes a 24-page booklet with quotes and reminiscences from pianist & musical director Tim Hinkley and sax player Nick Pentelow.
Ray Harper

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Pink FloydPink Floyd
The Pink Floyd And Syd Barrett Story
(Eagle Vision)

Not a new story certainly, but still a fascinating one, John Edginton’s documentary charting the rise and fall of Syd Barrett tracks down pretty much anyone who knew or worked with the man (including all the Floyd crew), to tell the story of a genuinely innovative individual who dramatically unravelled, losing his way in tandem with his band finding theirs. There’s little doubt Pink Floyd would not have existed without him, but after whatever bad trip tipped him over the edge it’s equally certain that they needed to leave him behind to continue working because when he got involved he did his utmost to scupper any headway they had made. The film is full of great footage - including home movies - and disarmingly honest interviews, the interviewees seemingly doing their level best to honestly relate, what is after all, a dreadfully sad story, and is now expanded to two discs. Nicely packaged with extra acoustic performances by Robyn Hitchcock and Graham Coxson and the full, unedited, interviews with all the members of Floyd (amounting to more than three hours of extra footage), this remains pretty much the definitive take on this story.
Ray Harper

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DevoDevo
The Complete Truth About De-evolution
(Wienerworld)

And what is The Complete Truth About de-evolution? Well, as we understand it the idea is that instead of continuing to evolve, mankind has actually begun to regress (or de-evolve), as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society which may well have begun as a tongue in cheek manifesto upon which to build a (slightly) more accessible take on the sort of queasy art-rock championed by the Residents but the daft costumes, flowerpot hats and b-movie video’s would never have been enough on their own had there not been some substance to the material as songs like ‘Jocko Homo’, ‘Whip It’, ‘Come Back Jonee’ and of course their minimal stuttering take on ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ all proved to be just the right commercial side of weird becoming hugely popular in the new wave era. If ever a band was made for MTV that band was Devo and all the bonkers vids are here in their spazz dancing, primary-coloured, nerdy glory, alongside loads of extras including live romps through songs like ‘Uncontrollable Urge’ and ‘Mongoloid’ which prove that they weren’t half bad on stage either.
The Oracle

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Wilko JohnsonWilko Johnson
Live At Koko (Cadiz)

With a re-recorded best of also just out (more here), there seems to be a positive avalanche of Wilko related material coming out right now (for obvious reasons), however if you really want to understand the appeal of the man you need to see him perform live - the spare, pre-punk, rhythm and blues electricity of Dr. Feelgood in particular is astonishing, almost violent, in its intensity – and making a basic instrumental trio work is perhaps the hardest live job there is (although helped exponentially in this case by Norman Watt-Roy and Dylan Howe). That however is exactly what Johnson has always done and despite no longer being as young or fit as he was (and occasionally missing Lee Brilleaux’s coruscating harp solos) he still positively fizzes with kinetic energy throughout this classic strewn set. Extras include several live tracks and an excellent interview which is actually as good as the live show peppered with Wilko’s delightfully deranged intensity and humour and at over an hour far more in depth (dealing with numerous subjects including his impending death) than the usual tacked on fifteen minute jobs you get. In short if this was to be his epitaph, it’s a bloody good one.
The Oracle

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Martin Hannett He Wasn't Just a Fifth Member Of Joy Division : A Film About Martin Hannett
(Ozit Dandelion)

OK, first up this is a long, long film, three hours and 47 minutes in fact, it’s far too long to do in one sitting and should have been split into two distinct halves (and seen a little more of the editing blade). That said there is still much here to merit picking up this documentary about the wayward genius that was Martin Hannett. For those that don’t know Hannett who sadly died on 18 April 1991 at the age of 42 due in no small part to his excessive drink and drug use, was the man who sat behind the desk for era defining Manchester albums like Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures and Closer, and the Happy Mondays' Bummed. HWJAFMOJD features interview with (deep beath) Tony Wilson, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Dave Formula, John Cooper Clarke, Reni, Vini Reilly, Graham Fellows (Jilted John, John Shuttleworth), numerous other musicians, family and friends in fact pretty much everyone who knew the man and, in keeping with Hannett’s own occasionally unorthodox approach, makes no attempt at broadcast quality filming standards and is therefore probably only going to interest fans of the music, but if you are such a fan you will find plenty to enjoy here.
The Oracle

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The BeatlesThe Beatles
A Hard Day’s Night (Second Sight)

Can’t imagine there are many of you who haven’t already seen this but it’s easy to forget just how packed with great music it is and if you don’t already own a copy then this pin sharp restoration packed with extras is definitely the time to add it to your music library. For those of you under thirty (or possibly Nana Mouskouri fans) who don’t already know, the plot finds the band bound for a London show on a train (well it might have happened!) they then lose Ringo (who disappears on a bike, naturally), but the police find him and all turns out for the best. Hmm, doesn’t sound too impressive when put on paper but believe me it’s a lorra lorra laughs and the tunes rock. Featuring a mono soundtrack as well as a newly created 5.1 surround and stereo mixes bonus features include In Their Own Voices - a new piece combining 1964 interviews with The Beatles with behind-the-scenes footage and photos; You Can t Do That: The Making of A Hard Day s Night (including an outtake performance by The Beatles); Things They Said Today - featuring director Richard Lester music producer George Martin, screenwriter Alun Owen and cinematographer Gilbert Taylor plus loads more.
The Oracle

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Portnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine, SherinianPortnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine, Sherinian
Live In Tokyo (Eagle Rock)

OK so you’ll have to forgive me but I really wasn’t in any hurry to watch this (it’s been out for a while) as aside from Dream Theatre, and serial collaborator, prog metal drum genius Mike Portnoy I was struggling to place the other names – gimme a break I’m old. A little Googling turns up Derek Sherinan (amongst many other things) as currently keyboard prodding for Black Country Communion, Billy Sheehan as (amongst many other things), bass player for Mr Big and, to me at least, the real unknown, guitarist Tony MacAlpine who has worked with millions of people but to give you a notion of his chops here let’s pick Steve Vai. So, given the idiotically long list of people all of these guys have played with (look ‘em up), it’s a pretty fair bet that they can play a bit eh? Christ on a crutch can they? Really this is genuinely gobsmacking stuff as they cherry pick moments from their collective past and play the bloody bejeezus out of ‘em, this really is astonishingly accomplished prog metal, a bit like Return To Forever with massive great cojones. So, it took a while to reach the DVD player but the bugger’s welded there now.
The Oracle

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The ClashThe Clash
The Rise And The Fall Of The Clash (UDR)

Not, on the face of it, a new, or indeed untold, story (see Westway To The World), the USP of The Rise And The Fall Of The Clash is the unflinching, gimlet eyed stare into the nasty-minded, back stabbing, atmosphere fostered and encourage by manager Bernie Rhodes (and make no mistake Rhodes was both the reason for the Clash’s birth and the reason for their demise) with first hand information from friends, crew and people who were there including Mick Jones Terry Chimes, Pearl Harbour, Viv Albertine and later Clash members Vince White, Nick Sheppard and Pete Howard. So we follow the band from humble origins to huge American stadiums and then, via squabbling, in-fighting, drug problems and Rhodes Svengali style machinations, onto everything grinding to an ignominious halt. On the downside, like Westway To The World, there is precious little actual Clash music to be found here but as an addition and addendum to Westway... this fills in the gaps and properly rounds out the final two years in the desperately sad demise of a once great band who finally disintegrated in 1986 (after abysmal final album Cut The Crap), just ten years after their first gig supporting the Sex Pistols in Sheffield.
The Oracle

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Bad CompanyBad Company
The 40th Anniversary (UMC)

One of those bands that tend to get overlooked when classic rock outfits are wheeled back out for reappraisal so this celebration of a band who had more hits than you may remember (some of ‘em stone cold classics) is well overdue and all three of the surviving classic line-up talk extensively - sadly Boz Burrell died in 2006. Perhaps their affiliation with the biggest band on the planet at the time – they were managed by Led Zep’s Peter Grant and were on the rock behemoth’s Swan Song label – was a double edged sword as, whilst they became a proper stadium filling draw, in less than ten years they were burned out (all of them agree that the death of John Bonham in 1980 put the brakes on pretty much everything). The film also includes a hefty nod to previous outfits Free and Mott The Hoople, although the Brian Howe and Robert Hart versions of Bad Company don’t get a look in here (albiet they were nowhere near as successful), but given the length of time those Paul Rodgers-less Bad Company’s existed their elbowing from BC history is a bit disingenuous. All-in-all however this is an interesting look at a fine bands history (also comes in a Classic Rock collector’s pack with a 132-page magazine edition).
The Oracle

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Dream TheaterDream Theater
Live At Luna Park- 2DVD+3CD (Eagle Vision)

Not as big a draw this side of the pond US prog/ metallers Dream Theater (formed in 1985 by John Petrucci, John Myung, and Mike Portnoy), have nonetheless spent almost thirty years creating some stellar, often technically astonishing, music, the same three original members remaining together until September 8, 2010 when drummer Portnoy left the band and this live show, filmed during the final leg of their A Dramatic Tour Of Events world tour in July 2011 at Luna Park in Buenos Aires, Argentina features the, not inconsiderable, skills of replacement Mike Mangini (alongside current DT’s James LaBrie and Jordan Rudess). Obviously this is aimed first and foremost at fans but if you are unfamiliar with the band this is a great place to start as it features an incendiary (almost) three hour long set littered with classic DT monuments including four, under-rehearsed but nonetheless very successful, tunes performed with a string quartet, a terrific documentary, a trailer for the cinematic release, a ‘Behind The Scenes’ feature and the animated intro that fans were greeted with on the big screen before the band took the stage.
Ray Harper

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The Dukes Of SeptemberThe Dukes Of September
Live At Lincoln Centre (429 Records)

The Dukes of September (great name) a resurrection of the New York Rock and Soul Revue which was originally active between 1989 and 1992 and featured the same three musicians (Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs), playing a combination of hits from their respective careers as well as a variety of covers. Reforming again in 2010 for touring purposes this show was, unsurprisingly, hugely popular with fans of a certain age and this live show recorded for television in 2012 positively drips with class as classic Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan and Boz Scaggs numbers are effortlessly recreated by a seriously classy band. Okay, Fagen and McDonald have to stretch to hit those high notes nowadays (more noticeable in that warm hug of a McDonald voice), and occasionally the standard covers are a touch pedestrian but there are numerous highlights and ‘Kid Charlemagne’, ‘Peg’, ‘What A Fool Believes’, ‘Lowdown’ ‘Takin’ It To The Streets’ and ‘Lido Shuffle’ are an utter delight. Pity there’s no extras (a backstage interview or some audience reactions would have been welcome additions), but really only a churl would take issue with such a classy hit list of grown up pop.
Ray Harper

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Lou ReedLou Reed
Transformer/Live At Montreeux 2000: SD Blue-ray (Eagle Vision)

Despite being one of the grumpiest buggers to walk the face of the earth the recent loss of Lou Reed was a real tragedy, not least because you got the feeling that it was quite likely he still had a few surprises left up his rumpled black sleeve. However this SD Blu-ray twofer from Eagle Vision will certainly help ease the man’s passing, especially for all you audiophiles. For those of us who have wrecked their hearing with one too many Motörhead shows the ‘upscaled standard definition original material with uncompressed stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound’ may be a little lost, but Blu-ray fanatics will doubtless luxuriate in the dramatically improved sound and vision, for the rest of us simply combining the terrific ‘Classic Albums’ documentary Transformer (although David Fricke’s utterances do get a little wearing) with a fine Live At Montreux 2000 concert film of Lou Reed s performance at the world famous festival – featuring material from his Ecstasy album alongside some older classics - is value enough. Also well worth tracking down is the SD Blue-ray Joni Mitchell twofer featuring the Woman of Heart & Mind documentary and Painting With Words And Music concert.
Ray Harper

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US Festival’83 US Festival
(Wienerworld)

So the history bit; The US festival took place on Memorial Day Weekend 1983 and was the brainchild of Apple Computers Steve Wozniak (Jobs apparently thought the idea a duffer) featuring three days of new wave, heavy metal and MTV style pop acts and included performances from U2, the Clash, Judas Priest, Stevie Nicks, Scorpions, INXS, Men at Work, Stray Cats, The Beat and more. Given the amount of material that was filmed one must assume there is a vault full of it somewhere (which is almost certainly never going to see the light of day due to contracts with the bands management), what you do have is an overall summation of the whole event with interviews and performances cherry picked from across the three day show. What you also have is a real moment in time as 1983 was at the height of MTV fever so acts like Divinyls, Stray Cats, Men At Work, Berlin, Missing Words and Quarterflash were certainly booked due to heavy MTV rotation (and lordy is there a lot of primary colours, spiked hair and trousers gathered at the ankle on show), that said Judas Priest, U2, The Beat, The Clash – featuring Mick Jones last live performance - and (oddly enough) The Scorpions all deliver quality moments.
The Oracle

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MorrisseyMorrissey
25 Live
(Eagle Rock)

Quite possibly the most truculent and impossible to deal with person in a business positively littered with ‘difficult buggers’, Morrissey nonetheless inspires fiercely partisan loyalty in his audience as this concert film, marking 25 years into a stop/start solo career, proves (tickets to the concert in the 1,800-seater School Auditorium apparently sold out in 12 seconds). How do we know just how much Morrissey’s fans love him? Well he asks them of course, several times in fact, and, surprise surprise, the response is gushing, star-struck and bloody embarrassing. Which is a pity as stripped of these awkward moments of high self regard this is a genuinely excellent concert with material cherry-picked from throughout his career (and yes that does include Smiths songs, hey if Johnny Marr can do it). Add this to 2004’s Who Put The 'M' In Manchester? DVD and you have pretty much all the live Morrissey you will need, and for once the extras are also worthwhile with four new songs recorded with Tony Visconti and some interesting behind the scenes stuff, so one for fans and interested parties alike, just hover over the fast forward button between songs.
The Oracle

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The Stuart Hall ProjectThe Stuart Hall Project
(BFI)

If you’re thinking Stuart who? The short answer is a Jamaican born cultural theorist and sociologist who has lived and worked in the UK since 1951 and who was one of the founding figures of the school of thought that is now known as British Cultural Studies. The rather less dull answer is an interesting, thought-provoking man whose life (thus far), is neatly summed up here by documentarian John Akomfrah who edits together a montage of existing documentary footage and Hall's own words and thoughts from the last 40 - 50 years creating fascinating viewing as we watch the political and cultural landscapes change over the decades. Once again the extra draw for TM readers is the accompanying soundtrack, in this instance the music of Miles Davis, indeed Davis music is pretty integral to the film with Hall insisting that ‘When I was about 19 or 20 Miles Davis put his finger on my soul, the various moods [matching] the evolution of my own feelings’. Of course whether you like this film or not will depend very much on your political bent (so to speak), but left leaning jazz buffs (and sociology students) will certain find much to clutch warmly to their collective bosoms.
Paul Riley

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Gene ClarkGene Clark
The Byrd Who Flew Alone
(Four Sun Productions)

Go on, be honest, have you even heard of Gene Clark? You could be forgiven for drawing a blank as the Byrds were never as big on this side of the Atlantic as they were in the US and Gene Clark’s tenure with the band was limited to the first two years – albeit the most important two years - of their existence (a three week visit in 1967 and brief reconciliation in 1973 aside), and it was in these early stages of the band’s career that Clark would prove his prowess as a songwriter providing much of the original material on the first three albums before going on to pepper his four, exceptionally good, solo albums with a great deal more of the same. Sadly these solo albums made far less impact than they should have due to Clark’s self-destructive behavior and his unwillingness to tour in support of them (he hated flying, in fact his departure from the Byrds was precipitated by a panic attack on a plane bound for New York and Roger McGuinn telling him, "If you can't fly, you can't be a Byrd”), all of which makes for a genuinely fascinating story which is beautifully told here. Really, watch this, you won’t be disappointed.
The Oracle

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And The Beat Goes On: IbizaAnd The Beat Goes On: Ibiza
(Wienerworld)

Not perhaps a name that immediately springs to mind for presenting a documentary about dance music’s premier destination but Jimi Mistry (star of such films as East Is East, The Guru, Blood Diamond and of course Dr Fred Fonseca in EastEnders), but long before he was a film star Jimi was a music fan and in the late '80s he discovered rave music (and can now regularly be found dj-ing at house nights) so not such a strange choice after all. Teaming up with director Steve Jaggi Mistry goes in search of the heart of Ibiza from the huge super clubs like Pacha to the more hippy dippy, dreadlocked side of the island and if this viewer remains convinced that well heeled people experiencing the deep spiritual side of life at a drum party on the beach or paying £50.00 plus to get into Space, Manumission or Pacha in the hope of glimpsing Kate Moss is about as far removed from dancing all night under the stars with a bottle of water as it's possible to get, it is nonetheless an engaging, enjoyable film which has the occasional flash of clarity (producer Lenny Ibizarre talks the most sense here) and re-unites the four DJs credited with exporting the Balearic sound to England - Paul Oakenfold, Nicky Holloway, Danny Rampling and Johnnie Walker.
The Oracle

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Bruce SpringsteenBruce Springsteen
Springsteen & I
(Eagle Rock)

As the title kinda suggests Springsteen & I is a documentary by Ridley Scott featuring mini films made by Springsteen’s, many, many, many devoted fans who reflect on their personal insights and experiences concerning ‘The Boss’, and if you’re worried that reams of star struck fans waffling on about their idol could be a little, erm, wearing don’t be as not only is the film liberally peppered with previously unseen archive footage of Springsteen lifted from right across his career the truth is that the vast majority of the waffling is actually a lot of fun. Of course this will only really appeal if Springsteen’s wood-chopping everyman style of uber-bombast floats your boat, but there’s absolutely no denying this is a man that works really hard at, and wholeheartedly believes in, what he's doing and it’s this passion and commitment that clearly inspires exactly the same in the fans found herein. Bonus Features include some additional fan contributions not included in the main film and six tracks from Bruce's Hyde Park 2012 show (including a huge great stomping version of ‘Because The Night’ with an incendiary Nil’s Lofgren guitar solo and two tracks featuring Paul McCartney).
Ray Harper

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Public Service BroadcastingPublic Service Broadcasting
Inform Educate Entertain: The DVD (Test Card Recordings)

One of the best albums from last year (in our Top Twenty in fact), get’s the DVD treatment which basically means this is the film footage that inspired and indeed provided the building blocks for the songs on the album. It is also what you would see if you caught them live (if the projector doesn’t break down as it does for the Beat-Herder Festival clip in the bonus section), so if you love the album you will love this even more as the vocal samples come to life and the original visual stimulus help drive the songs along. Bonus features include an audio commentary for each track by J. Willgoose, Esq about the stories and history relating to each of the songs and videos, a short ‘on the road' style diary, a mini documentary built around live excerpts from a recent show, two full live tracks and two promo videos plus a disarming interview with Willgoose about their career thus far and the BFI involvement in their music. Simply put if you have the album then you will probably want to add this to your collection, if however you have missed the PSB boat thus far this is a great place to climb onboard.
The Oracle

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Portnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine, SherinianPortnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine, Sherinian
Live In Tokyo (Eagle Rock)

OK so you’ll have to forgive me but I really wasn’t in any hurry to watch this (it’s been out for a while) as aside from Dream Theatre, and serial collaborator, prog metal drum genius Mike Portnoy I was struggling to place the other names – gimme a break I’m old. A little Googling turns up Derek Sherinan (amongst many other things) as currently keyboard prodding for Black Country Communion, Billy Sheehan as (amongst many other things), bass player for Mr Big and, to me at least, the real unknown, guitarist Tony MacAlpine who has worked with millions of people but to give you a notion of his chops here let’s pick Steve Vai. So, given the idiotically long list of people all of these guys have played with (look ‘em up), it’s a pretty fair bet that they can play a bit eh? Christ on a crutch can they? Really this is genuinely gobsmacking stuff as they cherry pick moments from their collective past and play the bloody bejeezus out of ‘em, this really is astonishingly accomplished prog metal, a bit like Return To Forever with massive great cojones. So, it took a while to reach the DVD player but the bugger’s welded there now.
The Oracle

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Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen RocketeersMadder than a Full Moon Dog
(Wienerworld)

Jay Winter, the lead singer and bassist of Asomvel was driving home on October 18th 2010 after playing a gig in Selby the night before when he was involved in an accident on the A64, his van careering out of control after colliding with a BMW and crashing into a fence before catching fire. Jay Jay was something of a character on the northern metal scene so it was perhaps no surprise when the 2012 Full Moon Dog Festival, held at Leeds Cockpit, ended up being dedicated to his memory and, fortunately for us, was also recorded and filmed. Chances are, unless you are a northern metal head, you probably won’t have heard of Orange Goblin, Asomvel, Stiletto Farm, Stuka Squadron, Triaxis, Eliminator, Dark Forest, Mercenary or indeed the Screaming Eagles but knowing of these bands, or indeed having a deep affinity for heavy metal, is not a necessary requirement for enjoying this denim, leather and tattoo drenched documentary, complete with drunken backstage tomfoolery, drunken audience tomfoolery and more metal sub-genres than you can wave a big gothic sword at, and keep an eye peeled for the chap who is very serious about his patch collection.
Ray Harper

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TropicáliaQueen
The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert (Eagle Rock)

On Easter Monday 20 April 1992 Queen and a stellar cast of rock luminaries performed for a packed Wembley Stadium - and a television and radio audience in 76 countries around the world estimated at close to one billion – a huge show that was both a tribute to the life of the late Queen front-man, Freddie Mercury and an effort to increase public awareness of AIDS (the huge success of the project provided funding for The Mercury Phoenix Trust AIDS charity). Chances are, if you’re a Queen fan, you’ll already have much of this on a worn out VHS tape so here’s your chance to get pretty much the whole thing (Robert Plant nixing some of what he considered to be a poor performance) on DVD or Blu-ray with the addition of a third disc including a documentary and rehearsal footage. Oddly enough one of the best moments here is not a Queen song at all but ‘All The Young Dudes’ featuring Queen, David Bowie, Ian Hunter, Joe Elliott and Mick Ronson and, despite the show being rammed with ‘proper’ rock vocalists like Roger Daltry, the person who really nails the best Queen moment (‘Somebody To Love’) is George Michael.
Ray Harper

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Show Of HandsShow Of Hands
Live At Shrewsbury Folk Festival (Hands On Music)

Twenty one years into their, frankly woefully under-celebrated, partnership and singer songwriter Steve Knightley and multi instrumentalist Phil Beer offer up something of a twofer from the SOH self-production line which will delight Show Of Hands fans as not only do you get a beautifully filmed and recorded eight song set filmed at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival, featuring additional backing from The Urban Soul Orchestra and including favourites like 'The Blue Cockade', 'Exile', 'Santiago' (dedicated to their old Alianza band-mate the late Vladimir Vega), 'Innocents Song/Gwithian' (which get’s a real shot in the arm from the Orchestra) and a genuinely goosebump inducing run through 'The Dive'. If all this live largesse wasn’t enough however you also get a Cinéma vérité style ‘making of…’ documentary filmed during the creation of their recent, critically acclaimed, Wake The Union album offering insights and breakdowns of all of the tracks found thereon and featuring appearances by Seth Lakeman and Cormac O’Byrne plus a sequence filmed on the Channel Island of Sark with Andy Cutting and Martin Simpson. Just the thing in fact for snuggling up in front of the box on a cold winters eve.
Ray Harper

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Jimi HendrixJimi Hendrix
Hear My Train A Comin’
(Sony Legacy)

If there’s one thing in the world there’s no shortage of its DVD’s about James Marshall Hendrix, he may have moved on to the next world far too early but he left behind more filmed evidence of his short time here than most people amass in a whole lifetime. Sadly, live sets aside, many of the available DVD’s are pretty duff, the benchmark thus far still being 1973’s eponymously titled ‘rockumentary’ (which most of the chaps here recall seeing first time around in the cinema). So what, if anything, does Hear My Train A Comin’ have to offer that’s not already out there? Well for old timers there’s a fair amount of previously unseen footage collected in the bonus section, not least the cracking quality live material from the 1968 Miami Pop Festival (also available in much fuller detail on CD) and, more bootleg quality, finds from 1970 shows in New York and Germany, this last at the Isle of Fehmarn festival is leant extra pathos by being Hendrix’s last ever official live performance (although he would jam at Ronnie Scott’s with Eric Burdon and War ten days later), before passing away on 18th September 1970 aged just 27. So, a very worthy addition to old fans collections and a great kicking off point for newbies.
Ray Harper

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Jethro TullJethro Tull
Around The World Live
(Eagle Rock)

Pulling together material from concerts throughout their career beginning at the Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970 and ending in Switzerland in 2005 (much of the material being previously unreleased). Packaged in a natty hardback book which contains photos from Ian Anderson's personal archive and notes on all the shows by Joel McIver. For most fans (especially those who already own the Live At Isle Of Wight Festival DVD) the real draw here will be the 1976 show from Tampa featuring what many consider to be the finest Tull line-up (Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, John Glascock, Barrimore Barlow and the demented gurning nutcase that is John Evans), and it doesn’t disappoint with the band clearly at the top of their game. The other enticing show is from Munich in 1980 but this is sadly more bootleg quality (although once again the band are in full flow, and it will be of interest to long term fans). Of the remaining discs (there are four in all), the three tracks from ’82 and ’86 leave you wishing for more and the show in Chile in 1996 is also well worth a look, although by then it is clear that Anderson is beginning to struggle with the higher ranges of his vocals. All together though this is a terrific package which no Tull fan will want to be without.
The Oracle

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Frank ZappaFrank Zappa
A Token Of His Extreme
(Eagle Vision)

Many an hour has been wasted up here in TM-Towers debating the worth and abilities of the numerous Mother’s line-ups created to realise Frank Zappa’s peculiar visions over the years, from the original scary/ugly nut-jobs to the later musical geniuses like Adrian Belew, Steve Vai, Terry Bozzio, The Brecker Brothers, Jean-Luc Ponty Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, Captain Beefheart and many, many more. But to this particular reviewers ears there was no greater Mothers line up than the mid ‘70s one found herein featuring George Duke on keyboards and vocals; Napoleon Murphy Brock on sax and vocals; Ruth Underwood on percussion; Tom Fowler on bass and Chester Thompson on drums, the band behind such seminal Zappa works as Apostrophe ('), One Size Fits All and the live album (also apparently due out on DVD soon) Roxy & Elsewhere. Originally conceived and recorded in 1974 as a 'made for TV' special some of this has already appeared on the Dub Room Special DVD but this is the (almost) complete performance – why the two missing tracks 'Cosmik Debris' and 'Approximate' aren’t here is unclear – and it’s a blinder, the band and Zappa seeming almost telepathic at times and even the odd duff bit of ‘psychedelic’ film work doesn’t detract from a truly stupendous performance.
Ray Harper

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Beware Of Mr Baker Beware Of Mr Baker
(Curzon Film World)

It’s a pretty fair bet that this will not be the only review to mention that Ginger Baker is not a pleasant man. One of the few people who has no reservations about what a fine chap he is is John Lydon and he hasn’t ever had a personal relationship with him or indeed worked with him for any length of time. Simply put Ginger Baker is a dreadful, self-obsessed, nasty-minded car crash of a human being. He is also possibly the finest drummer of his generation and was championing ‘world music’ long before the term ever existed so how you choose to watch this film will depend very much on whether you want to know about Baker the man (hideous) or Baker the musician (inspirational), and the numerous clips of him in full flow – musical, verbal and physical – make this a very, very watchable film indeed. The list of people queuing up to pay homage (mainly those who love his music), or point out his deficiencies (mainly those who have had to co-exist with him) is long and prodigious and ensures that this is right up there with Some Kind Of Monster and Dig! In the list of ‘must see’ dysfunctional music docs.
The Oracle

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MinistryMinistry
Enjoy The Quiet: Live At Wacken 2012 (EMI)

Currently sporting enough facial piercings to set off airport metal detectors in the airport car park Al Jourgensen is that most peculiar of beasts a lunatic drink and drug hoover who is also idiotically productive, releasing not just a raft of blistering industrial Ministry albums but also finding time to release numerous side projects (Revolting Cocks, Lard, 1000 Homo DJ’s and the delightfully named Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters amongst others). It is however for the heavyweight industrial blatter pioneered by Ministry that he is best known and despite grinding to a halt in 2008 Jourgensen reconvened the band in 2011 playing their first live outing in years at The Wacken Festival in August of 2012. Which brings us neatly to this VFM DVD+2xCD collection which not only includes the 2012 live set but also the 2006 live set at the same festival (with CD’s of both shows included), and catches the band in fearsome bludgeoning form, ringmaster Jourgensen prowling around dementedly bellowing. Sadly before the end of the year guitarist Mike Scaccia would die from a heart attack while performing onstage with his other band Rigor Mortis, but this stands as a fine epitaph.
Ruby Palmer

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Big Audio Dynamite IIBig Audio Dynamite II
Live in Concert
(Wienerworld)

Wearing what looks like a hat loaned to him by Freddie ‘Parrot Face’ Davis (Google him), and surrounded by a band that all look like rubbish comedian Lee Nelson and seem far too young to be up so late you’d never know that Mick Jones previous day job was as a super cool guitar-slinger for rebel rockers The Clash, but as we now know the final days of the Clash were pretty dismal and having escaped the strictures of the Clash party line Jones’ was clearly having a lot of fun experimenting and being his own boss, and if B.A.D II were never quite as cutting edge as B.A.D this is nonetheless pretty rare footage of Jones’ Big Audio days recorded in 1992 at the Town and Country Club. The paucity of available material means that sadly this is just eight songs in length but the sound and film quality are good – okay Jones voice does tend to waver all over the shop, but it does that on the records as well, it’s part of the charm – if you like B.A.D. then you will definitely want to add this to your collection..
Ray Harper

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Saint Etienne Saint Etienne
A London Trilogy: The Films of Saint Etienne 2003-2007 (BFI)

Popular beat combo Saint Etienne have been collaborating for over a decade now with filmmaker Paul Kelly (the man behind the terrific Lawrence of Belgravia the film about Felt/Denim nearly man Lawrence), creating three documentaries, or perhaps we should call them visual documents - the homage to London Finisterre, a pre-Olympic look at East London’s Lea Valley What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? And This is Tomorrow a look at the history, renovation and reopening of the Royal Festival Hall - plus a handful of shorts (some previously unavailable and all included here) including a paean to London’s disappearing cafes (Today’s Special), a brief but fascinating glimpse into Banksy’s artwork (much if it sadly already gone) and a day in the life of the mascot for North Hendon FC entitled Monty the Lamb, all delightfully laid back and wry drifts through a London which is fast disappearing and all soundtracked by Sarah Bob and Pete’s eclectic mix of ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s pop and soundtrack music. As always with these BFI releases everything is superbly annotated in the extensive accompanying booklet and with three hours plus of material on offer it’s also pretty good VFM.
Jenny Hoon

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The Cockney RejectsVarious Artists
The Dutch Woodstock
(Gonzo)

A hugely successful early European rock festival, the Kralingen Music Festival was held less than a year after Woodstock and the line up was, frankly, brilliant, featuring Tyrannosaurus Rex, The Byrds, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat, Pink Floyd, Dr John, Family a very young Al Stewart and this DVD (plus 2 audio CD’s with extra songs), features some ultra rare footage of all of the above (plus lesser known but no less entertaining bands like East Of Eden and The Flock). Obviously given the limitations of film and sound back in the stone age things occasionally look and sound a little, erm, bootleggy but Gonzo have clearly gone to great lengths to present all the footage they could lay their hands on here and the results are a genuinely entertaining historical document which will delight to both fans of the bands in question and fans of music of this era in general (plus what could be more fun than watching stoned hippies do daft things). The extra tracks sourced for the audio CD’s are a great addition, but it’s the film most of you will be returning to, daydreaming about granddad shirts, desert boots, herbal cigarettes and young ladies with no brassieres.
The Oracle

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Miles DavisMiles Davis
Live At Montreux 1991 [Blu-ray]
(Eagle Rock)

One of Miles Davis’ many appearances at the Montreux Jazz Festival - filmed only a few months before his death – as part of a tribute to the late great Gil Evans (who died a few years previously in 1988), with Miles fronting The Gil Evans Orchestra, led by Quincy Jones, so we’re talking serious players with real pedigree here, and despite age limitations this is a stunning performance which finds Davis eschewing his usual unwillingness to revisit older material, and of course then changing it completely. Okay, he isn’t at the height of his powers here but he proves that he is more than capable of transcending the limitations age and ill-health have thrust upon him and anyone expecting a ‘will this do’ effort will be genuinely surprised. Extras include some fascinating interviews with Miles contemporaries and the sound and vision are excellent (making a Blu-ray purchase well worthwhile, although those of you with duff old DVD players won’t miss out as this is also available on DVD). If you are a fan then you will want this as it’s a genuinely worthy final hurrah for one of the most important musicians of the 20th century.
Paul Riley

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The Cockney RejectsThe Cockney Rejects
East End Babylon
(Cadiz Music)

Depending on who you talk to the East End of London (from which this reviewer hails, so has a little insight into the area), has had the heart and soul ripped from it by successive governments or is a hotbed of unpleasantness wherein you can get twatted for just looking at someone the wrong way. The truth is somewhere in the middle, and it is in this grey area that The Cockney Rejects dwell, self confessed West Ham supporting, football hooligans and lovers of ‘a bit of a ruck’ the two main Rejects, ex-boxing brothers Mickey Geggus and Jeff ‘Stinky Turner’ Geggus, are by turns very endearing, incredibly irritating, hugely enthusiastic and downright nasty pieces of work, so why should you give a toss about these two lairy buggers? Well their pig headed doggedness in pursuit of a career which began with sheer brazen chutzpah and could easily have ended in death on several occasions (and which they themselves also derailed several times), plus their delightfully heavy handed treatment of the idiot Nazis which dogged the live shows of many bands in the Oi movement are two very good reasons to dip into this excellent documentary which we’re adding to the increasing list of indispensible music docs on the office shelves.
The Oracle

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BrokenBroken
(Studio Canal )

You may have seen this already in competition corner (and if you were lucky already won a copy), but for the rest of you this film, from director Rufus Norris, was the British Independent Film Awards 2012 Best Film Winner no less. Based on Daniel Clay's acclaimed 2009 novel of the same name this is a rather grim story that gets to the very heart of modern social dysfunction and features 2013 BIFA Best Supporting Actor winner Rory Kinnear, Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy and newcomer Eloise Laurence, and it’s the truly excellent (and impossibly young), Laurence who lifts the proceedings and ensures things don’t end up as nihilistic as, let’s say, ‘Nil By Mouth’. In short she’s a total revelation. What’s the music link? Well The soundtrack is by Electric Wave Bureau, a collective founded by Mike Smith and featuring artist Suzi Winstanley, Nelson De Freitas and some bloke called Damon Albarn and, amongst other things, features an original song by Blur and as if young Eloise Laurence isn’t already impossibly talented enough she also sings the bloody theme tune (which is also really rather good). Great film, great music, great new young talent, it’s a no brainer really, watch it.
Jenny Hoon

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Frank ZappaFrank Zappa
200 Motels
(Boulevard Entertainment Ltd)

A tiny budget resulting in a seven-day shoot and eleven days of editing, ensured that 200 Motels was always going to be a hectic road crash of a movie. Filmed in 1971 the almost non-existent production values and whirlpool of insanity Zappa encouraged in his entourages takes huge liberties with the film's ostensible theme of ‘life on the road for a touring rock musician in the late twentieth century’. Needless to say, this being Zappa, the film also attempts to make far wider sweeping comments on sex and the political and cultural life of his homeland whilst doing its utmost to warp the viewers perceptions with mad animations, lunatic special effects Ringo Starr playing Zappa (and a dwarf), Keith Moon playing a nun and of course astonishingly demented country meets rock meets avant-garde orchestral meets ‘whatever the hell he feels like putting in next’ musical interludes. This is as unlike every other ‘modern music’ film of the era as Zappa’s sound was unlike everything else release at that time. This DVD is part of a whole slew of re-releases of film director Tony Palmer's music movies (see also the Leonard Cohen film below). Flawed but fascinating.
Ray Harper

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TropicáliaTropicália
(Mr Bongo)

Tropicalism, one of Brazil’s most significant cultural movements was created in the late 1960s by a collective of like-minded souls which used music and visual arts as a voice to confront the cultural and political establishment, it’s importance to the Brazilian art-world can’t really be overstated, and the scene and its key players are explored in Marcelo Machado's new film Tropicália which uses oodles of archive material and word of mouth from many of those involved to tell the story, including performances by and appearances from Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé and nutjobs Os Mutantes. However whilst there is much to excite and fascinate here the film’s opening half hour, a collection of quick cut archive footage and first-person subbed and captioned testimonies, is a nightmare to follow and has you constantly stabbing the pause button to try and keep up. But bear with it as protesting about the political establishment, even in song, could see you locked up back then so these guys weren't playing at revolution, and of course there is the music, mixing traditional Brazilian and African rhythms with contemporary pop/rock and creating a sound as peculiarly Brazilian as Krautrock was completely German (and influencing David Byrne, Damon Albarn and Beck).
Ray Harper

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Leonard CohenLeonard Cohen
Bird On A Wire
(Boulevard Entertainment Ltd)

Best known to all of us non-believers as being a bit of a glum-boy, Leonard Cohen is in fact very, very funny! No really, surprised me as well, making up songs on the spot and firing off self-deprecating bon-mot’s to a series of increasingly dreadful interviewers, in fact, a couple of woefully worthy poems aside, this film is an absolute joy, following Cohen on his 1972 European tour (and part of the current Tony Palmer music movie re-release series) this film documents everything from rucks with security at the Tel Aviv show to a final Jerusalem gig which begins rather badly but ends in genuine tears of emotion. Along the way we encounter legions of adoring toothsome ladies (one of whom he snogs on stage before admitting to camera that he had ‘disgraced himself’), a truly appalling PA system which parps and farts at the most inopportune moments – Cohen actually tries to pay two disgruntled Germans back out of his own pocket, and invites punters who cannot hear properly up onto the stage - and reams of hand held cinéma vérité style footage (not unlike Don’t Look Back only without the short grumpy Jewish chap). If, like this reviewer, you have previously struggled to understand Cohens charm, get this and all will become abundantly clear.
Josh Marks

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Peter FramptonPeter Frampton
Live In Detroit
(Eagle Vision)

After last year’s, rather excellent, re-visitation/35th anniversary celebration of his massive smash Frampton Comes Alive! - FCA! 35 Tour: An Evening With Peter Frampton, also out on Eagle Rock - comes this show from 1999 recorded at the Pine Knob amphitheatre in Detroit (originally released on video in 2000). Most people will know of Frampton’s career from the Herd, via Humble Pie to huge solo success with that live album (and of course the famous Talkbox guitar effect), but how many of you know just how good a guitarist he actually is? David Bowie, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Bill Wyman have all utilized his guitar skills and even a cursory listen here reveals just why that is. Yes he has a good voice, yes he can write a pretty decent tune and yes, as this show highlights, he is a great live performer but what he is first and foremost is a very, very good guitarist. He is also a genuinely charming and down to earth sort of chap as his self deprecating appearances on The Simpsons and Family Guy prove, and the short but revealing interview tucked away in the extras is a welcome inclusion. Also available on Blu-ray.
Ray Harper

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Larry Carlton & Robben FordLarry Carlton & Robben Ford
Unplugged (Wienerworld)

If you are unfamiliar with the names these two guitarists are considered to be amongst the top players in their field (Carlton’s guitar work can be heard on Crusaders and Steely Dan albums – Rolling Stone reckon his solo on ‘Kid Charlemagne’ from their 1976 LP The Royal Scam is the third best guitar solo on record – Ford has played with Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Little Feat, George Harrison and, erm, Kiss), so this unplugged pairing, their first ever, at The New Morning club in Paris was always going to be a guitar fans wet dream. Whilst ostensibly both jazz guitarists the meeting of Carlton’s precise fusion style with Ford’s more muscular blues based chops is an absolute delight throughout with Claude Salmieri on drums and the delightfully named Fifi Chayeb on bass supplying a rhythmic bedrock from which the guitarists can fly. The original album release attracted some complaints of this sounding too much like a jam session, which when you are talking about a live blues/jazz show is a bit like complaining that ice cream is too cold, so yes the guys do jam but the interplay and improvisation is superb and if anything this reviewer wished the DVD was longer.
Paul Riley

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Breaking GlassBreaking Glass: Collector's Edition
(Cherry Red)

Hard to believe that’s it’s now over thirty years since well respected British director Brian Gibson unleashed this grim post punk cautionary tale featuring a career defining role by Hazel O’Conner and Phil Daniels (hot on the heels of his leading role in Quadrophenia). Over the years it has wrongly been described as depicting the perceived horrors of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain in the ‘80s whereas in fact it is based during the ‘winter of discontent’ overseen by James Callahan’s Labour government of the late ‘70s and is something of an overlooked gem for any music fan keen on the UK’s move from punk into new wave (and features O’Connor classics like ‘Will You?’, ‘Eighth Day’, ‘Give Me An Inch’ and ‘Writing On The Wall’). As is often the case with movies based on the music business it is a touch heavy handed in places but overall the story of the rise from obscurity to fame is well handled and littered with the sort of pitfalls music fans will be all too familiar with. Bonus features includes the short documentary Hazel O'Connor Remembers 'Breaking Glass', an illustrated booklet written by film historian Marcus Hearn, a reproduction 'Breaking Glass' press pack from 1980 and four colour postcards.
Jenny Hoon

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The BeatlesThe Beatles
The Magical Mystery Tour (Apple)

If you are old enough to remember watching The Magical Mystery Tour on Boxing Day in 1967 (broadcast on BBC 1 and later again, in colour, on BBC 2), you probably won’t need us to tell you that it wasn’t an unqualified success, in fact it was given a major critical mauling prompting Macca to respond "We don't say it was a good film. It was our first attempt. If we goofed, then we goofed. It was a challenge and it didn't come off." Of course setting off in a coach without a script was insanely optimistic, the resultant ten hours of footage, featuring plenty of Goon/Python style lunacy (Lennon’s spaghetti shoveling waiter pre-dating Python’s Mr Creosote by years), and larger than life music hall performances, were then treated to some surrealist jump cutting and psychedelic filtering. With the benefit of hindsight however there is actually much to enjoy about the Magical Mystery Tour, not least the performance of ‘I Am the Walrus’ and the grand finale featuring legions of ballroom dancers swishing their skirts to ‘Your Mother Should Know’, there’s also 50 minutes of deleted scenes and extra material. Self indulgent? Without doubt. Flawed? Certainly. But is it fun? Absolutely.
The Oracle

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From The Sea To The Land BeyondFrom The Sea To The Land Beyond (BFI)

So what would you do if you had access to a load of old film footage that the British Film Institute have spent years archiving? Well if you’re Penny Woolcock you’d spend further hours trawling through all the UK coastal related footage and build a story of the British love of, and working relationship with, the sea that surrounds us all and then turn the whole shebang over to British Sea Power and get them to create a soundtrack that, as there is no voice over, helps tie the film clips together whilst also lending it a forward momentum that replace the missing narrative thrust. Of course if you or I did this the results would doubtless have been as entertaining as most home movies are to those of us not directly involved in ‘em, but Penny Woolcock’s deft touch has created a thoughtful journey kicking off in 1900’s Blackpool with huge crowds of overdressed holiday makers and grimy dockside workers right up to Dockland stock market traders and, rather less sedate (i.e. pissed and underwear flashing), visitors to Blackpool 100 years later, all of which is genuinely delightful with BSP’s mixture of songs and instrumentals, interspersed with sea birds and snippets of speech, doing a fine job of stitching the whole thing together.
Jenny Hoon

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Pat MethenyPat Metheny
The Orchestrion Project
(Eagle Vision)

Back in the mists of 2009 Pat Metheny took his fascination with mechanical instruments to its logical conclusion by recording an album with said mechanical instruments entitled Orchestrion – a sort of Tubular Bells for the noughties - he then took things a stage further and toured with his robot buddies (including pianos, marimba, vibraphone, Orchestra bells, basses, guitarbots, percussion, cymbals and drums, blown bottles and various other custom made efforts). It should have been a disaster, but it wasn’t, and having nailed that particular colour to his mast he decided to round things off with this double DVD filmed re-recording of both the original album and several cherry picked moments from his illustrious career. Of course to the layman this will just look and sound like Pat layering swathes of his beautiful jazzy guitar over a mass of automated backing, which is perfectly fine as it sounds cool, but to the more techie amongst us it’s a bloody marvelous mixture of pre-played and then triggered, looped and live musicianship (let’s not lose sight of the fact every sound you hear on this is created by Metheny), that finds ol’ Pat at the peak of his, not inconsiderable, powers.
Paul Riley

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Lee PerryLee Perry
Upsetter: Life & Music of Lee Scratch Perry
(Weinerworld)

You don’t have to look very far in the music business to find eccentric people, I mean let’s face it you can get away with behaviour in the entertainment industry that would get your arse fired in any other line of work, however a good deal of this eccentricity is just wilful dicking about, if you want to move to a whole other level of consciousness, one that would leave most of us walking into walls and babbling you need look no further than Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and yet it seems that Perry’s mind-boggling obsessions with fire, lunatic headwear (examples of the latter including a native American headdress, a tiara and, our particular favourite, a plate of fruit), his, frankly disturbing, stream of consciousness graffiti and his utterly incomprehensible religious views are all absolutely central to his peculiar brand of musical genius. This film, loaded with cracking archive footage, explores Perry’s absolutely pivotal role in the history of reggae, more or less inventing dub and launching Bob Marley on the world, but it doesn’t stop there, did you know he also produced the Clash, Simply Red and Paul and Linda McCartney (amongst many others)? In fact there’s a good deal to learn about the man and this film presents it all brilliantly, highly recommended.
Drew Bass

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Steven WilsonSteven Wilson
Get All You Deserve
(Kscope)

You have to wonder when Steven Wilson sleeps because whilst he’s hardly a household name (unless you live in a household obsessed with progressive rock that is), his work with Nu-Proggers Porcupine Tree (and side projects Blackfield, No-Man and Bass Communion), plus being in demand as a producer (Opeth, Anathema) and the ‘go-to’ guy for remixing and remastering classic rock albums - he has overseen all of the recent King Crimson anniversary editions with Robert Fripp – he then seems to spend every spare moment scheduling in live sets, like this one from Mexico City in April 2012, hell the bugger's busier than Simon Cowell (only making music that’s still going to be around in ten minutes). Ok, so it’s a little weird for those of us of a certain age to accept ex-bead-dreadlocked Kajagoogoo bass bunny Nick Beggs as a titan of new prog bass (he is in fact very good), but as always Wilson has surrounded himself with fine musicians including Jazz legend Theo Travis, hugely underrated Bulgarian guitarist Niko Tsonev, jazz pianist, and son of Jac, Adam Holzman and, yet another underrated name, German drummer Marco Minnemann which finds him pushing the material from his recent solo album Grace For Drowning into jazzier King Crimson-esque areas on a long and, damn near, faultless set.
The Oracle

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Metal Evolution Metal Evolution
(Eagle Vision)

There are two types of music fan, the first couldn’t care less whether they are listening to ‘Gangnam Style’ or ‘We Will Rock You', if they like it who cares what genre it is, the second, which would include people who write about it for a living, insist on pushing everything into little boxes and then arguing about it later. It is into the latter of these categories that this eleven episode series firmly belongs, and given that it is about rock music just what type of ‘rock’ music it is matters very, very much indeed. So first up this is the evolution of ‘metal’, not ‘rock’, these are very different beasts - for example Judas Priest or Mötley Crüe would be considered metal whereas Free or Lynyrd Skynyrd would not. Does any of this matter? Probably not, but I have to say this is a fantastically entertaining (and informative) way of spending the better part of nine hours. From the roots of classic rock (Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin) via the early days of US rock from Dick Dale and garage bands to the MC5, Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop and onto punk, the new wave of British heavy wetal, laughable nonsense like Hair Metal and the rock-reinvigorated likes of grunge. If there’s a complaint it is that everything is very US orientated after the early episodes, but what other musical genre would have someone decked out in Nazi memorabilia singing the praises of a gay black man (Yup, that would be Lemmy on his hero Little Richard).
Ray Harper

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The Doobie BrothersThe Doobie Brothers
Let The Music Play - The Story Of The Doobie Brothers (Eagle Vision)

I’m willing to bet that most of you know far more Doobie Brothers songs than you actually realise, however fans of the earlier Tom Johnston driven southern/country rockers like ‘Listen to the Music’, ‘China Grove’ and ‘Long Train Running’ are often not at all enamoured with the more polished and commercial AOR soul leanings of the Michael McDonald years – songs like ‘Takin' It to the Streets’, ‘What a Fool Believes’ and ‘Minute by Minute - (although both have their own merits). The one continuous link throughout all of the numreous musical upheavals is the extremely self-effacing and likable Patrick Simmons who, along with McDonald, Johnston and pretty much everyone ever involved in the band tell the full rollercoaster story with an enormous amount of grace and good humour and if you don’t grow to like pretty much all of these people by the end of this long (but not overlong) film then you’re a hard hearted bastard. There is also a bonus section of nine live songs (all the hits basically) all of which make this a must have for fans but also a genuinely decent night in for any fan of grown up rock music and classic song-writing.
Ray Harper

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Mudhoney Mudhoney
Live In Berlin, 1988
(!K7)

Released the same month as the Metal Evolution boxset, which also features Mudhoney whose Mark Arm does his utmost to distance his band, in fact the whole of Seattle, from anything with the name ‘metal’ in it - a position easier to understand when you know that grunge followed hot on the heels in the U.S. of vacuous glam/Hair Metal acts like Poison, Quiet Riot and of course Mötley Crüe - this is an altogether more lo-fi musical offering (although the filming and sound are perfectly acceptable) but it’s none the worse for all that as it captures the band playing their first show outside the U.S. in Berlin in 1988 before the world had any idea that grunge was about to take over the known world. Playing an early set for a handful of curious punters and bemused music industry types the band take the waves of, mainly, indifference emanating from the sparsely filled room and respond with some utterly fearsome thrashes through early tracks like 'Mudride', 'Chain That Door' and 'Touch Me I'm Sick'. Ok it's only 40 minutes long but this is nonetheless a genuinely thrilling find and a fantastic historical document which should appeal to any self respecting grunge fan.
Ruby Palmer

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Peter GabrielPeter Gabriel
So: Classic Albums
(Eagle Vision)

Whether you are into this or not will depend very much on, first of all, if you like Peter Gabriel, and secondly if you enjoy the deconstruction of an album told by those that, erm, constructed it. My partner, as an example, can be heard to sigh loudly and very regularly whenever we settle down to watch anything in the Classic Album series (it’s the people sat behind mixing boards muting out tracks so we can heard specific sections that cause the most exhalation of air). I on the other hand, especially if the album is one I love (such as this one), will happily sit for hours whilst ‘the making of’ nuts and bolts are loosened and tightened for my edification. Neither of us is right, all I’m saying is know what you are sitting down to and you will be disappointed far less often. For fans of Gabriel’s breakthrough multi-platinum monster hit (which spawned hit singles including Sledgehammer, Big Time , Don’t Give Up and In Your Eyes), and classic Gabriel songs like Red Rain and Mercy Street buying this documentary is a no brainer as it features contributions from most of those involved including Gabriel co-producer Daniel Lanois, engineer Kevin Killen and musicians Jerry Marotta, Laurie Anderson, Tony Levin and Manu Katché.
Ray Harper

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Fairy TalesFairy Tales: Early Colour Stencil films from Pathé (BFI)

Best known as the inventors of the newsreels shown prior to films Pathé was actually founded as Société Pathé Frères (Pathé Brothers Company) in Paris in 1896, by the four brothers Charles, Émile, Théophile and Jacques and quickly became the world's largest film equipment and production company. Of course all that access to film making equipment ensured that doing some crazy stuff with it would ensue and this collection of early colour stencil film shorts is chock full of early camera trickery driven fables, fairy tales and some just plain bonkers stuff (known collectively as scènes de feeries) which will certainly appeal to film buffs. This release is of particular interest to music fans however because the Touch label – home to Chris Watson, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Ryoji Ikeda, Philip Jeck, and BJ Nilsen amongst others – has newly sound-tracked these pieces making them even more atmospheric. Our particular favourites are Oren Ambarchi’s disconcerting counterpoint to the pages of a book coming to life in 'The Wonderful Album', Christian Fennesz’ glowering synth washes underpinning the butterfly collectors being themselves collected in 'Tit For Tat' and Hepworth Pictures bonus animated feature 'Little Red Riding Hood' which Rosy Parlane managed to turnm positively eerie.
The Oracle

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The Australian Pink Floyd ShowThe Australian Pink Floyd Show
Exposed In The Light (Townsend Music Limited)

Funny old palaver the tribute act, obviously all things being right with the world any self respecting fan will plump for seeing their pop star of choice in person, but I’d hazard a guess there’s few T Rex fans who would enjoy seeing Marc Bolan in person nowadays. Dig a little deeper and you will find numerous Jimi Hendrix fans who adored Stevie Ray Vaughan’s take on 'Voodoo Child', and didn’t The Beatles do Buddy Holly songs? Simply put what matters here is the execution, and make no mistake Aussies Steve Mac, Jason Sawford and Colin Wilson (with a revolving cast of many, many others), do this very, very well indeed – so well in fact that Dave Gilmour invited them to play at the after-show party for The Division Bell tour and his 50th birthday party. Not only is the music pretty much spot on the staging is also, given the obviously more limited budget, very impressive indeed - and how could you not love a huge inflatable Kangaroo? Let’s be honest this is the closest you will ever get to seeing Pink Floyd nowadays, so swallow your preconceptions and dive in, you won’t be disappointed.
Ray Harper

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features Interviews with Supergrass, Ryan Adams, Mark Josephs and our features archive.

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live listings What's on and where Check the listings for all the latest news on where to go and why

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