Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Music DVD/Blu-ray roundup

Here's my take on some music home video releases that have come out in recent months...

Artist: Rick Springfield
Title: An Affair of the Heart (Breaking Glass)
You might like if you enjoy: The Raspberries, Cheap Trick, The Knack
Tell Me More: “Playing music is my connection to people,” says Rick Springfield, early on. The relationship between the veteran Aussie singer/guitarist/actor and his fans are the basis for this affecting documentary, which won awards at several national festivals. Footage from the annual branded cruise, book tour and various shows is mixed with testimonials from half a dozen of the most devoted followers, who describe what they do to experience Springfield’s music live, how his music has profoundly affected them and what happens when they meet him in person.
MTV VJ Mark Goodman, actors Corey Feldman and Linda Blair briefly provide insight, but Springfield candidly comments throughout the 93 minute run time. Disc 2 includes extended scenes, bonus interviews (including his “General Hospital” co-stars), Springfield’s memories of the Sound City studio, the film festival premieres, a photo gallery and film trailers. For diehard enthusiasts only.

Artist: Santana & McLaughlin
Title: Live at Montreux 2011: Invitation to Illumination (Eagle Vision)
You might like if you enjoy: John Scofield, Al di Meola, Grateful Dead, early Journey
Tell Me More: Before this Swiss show, Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin hadn’t played a full set together since their 1973 tour for Love Devotion Surrender. Introduced by late Montreux founder Claude Nobs, the pair are both clad in white and bathed in heavenly hues (kudos to the lighting director).
The jazz/rock/fusion guitar masters pay tribute to their influences during the 2 hour, 15 minute study in guitar excellence. The wide musical terrain encompasses Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, John Lee Hooker, Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin. Since several of the songs surpass the 10-minute mark, the DVD is recommended for longtime fans.
What about the packaging? The booklet contains extensive credits, multiple photos and in-depth biography.

Artist: Aerosmith
Title: Rock for the Rising Sun (Eagle Vision)
You might like if you enjoy: Guns N’ Roses, ZZ Top, Heart, The Cult
Tell Me More: “We’re lightning rods when we play music. There’s just a lot of electricity.” That’s how Steven Tyler describes Aerosmith. More than 40 years after forming, the Boston band can still tear it up live. This DVD is a prime example. Shot in late 2011 over the course of several shows in Japan (just eight months after the region’s devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant meltdown), there are 16 full or partial performances, plus two bonus tracks. All are interspersed with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage that gives you a keen sense of the atmosphere within that area of Asia. Tyler has no problem with his usual yelps and constantly mixes it up with his band mates onstage.
Standouts during the 94-minute DVD include fiery renditions of ‘70s faves “Draw the Line,” “Mama Kin” and “Sweet Emotion” (where the musicians display their chops) and late ‘80s/early ‘90s hits “Love in an Elevator” and “Livin’ on the Edge.”
What about the packaging? The booklet contains several photos, credits and background on the Japanese tour.

Artist: Alanis Morissette
Title: Live at Montreux 2012 (Eagle Eye Media)
You might like if you enjoy: Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Liz Phair
Tell Me More:  A darling of confessional alt-rock during the mid-to-late ‘90s, the highly successful Canadian singer has kept a lower profile lately. Shot in high definition last year at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the 100-minute concert happened right before the release of her latest album Havoc and Bright Lights. Four new tracks were previewed, alongside such hits as the psychedelic-tinged rocker “All I Really Want,” “You Learn,” “Forgiven,” “Ironic” and “You Oughta Know.” The real treats here are a revamped, acoustic-tinged “Hand in Pocket” (where Alanis plays some harmonica), an epic take on the regal “Uninvited” and the beaming vocal delivery on closer “Thank U.”    
What about the packaging? The booklet contains a three-page career overview. 
Artist: The Eagles
Title: History of the Eagles: The Story of an American Band (Capitol)
You might like if you enjoy: Jackson Browne, Poco, Linda Ronstadt, Darius Rucker
Tell Me More: Clocking in around three hours, this captivating documentary from Oscar-winning producer Alex Gibney debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and on Showtime earlier this year.  Featuring more than two dozen new interviews, Part One encompasses the band’s early ‘70s formation through its first breakup in 1980.
It opens with the musicians practicing their harmonies and Don Henley doubting longevity among musicians. Among the interesting tidbits: famed producer Glyn Johns initially passed on working with them; Henley says they were “idiots” to sign the original Geffen contract; Joe Walsh was in awe and intimidated by Henley and Glenn Frey.
Part Two covers the Eighties solo years, the band turning down $1 million to play the US Festival , Frey putting the kibosh on a reunion, the eventual 1994 “Hell Freezes Over” tour and long gestating new studio album “Long Road Out of Eden,” up to the present. No less candid (Henley and Frey come across even more arrogant than you think and plenty of animosity exists from dismissed guitarist Don Felder and Steuart Smith.  
What about the packaging? The triple cardboard panel foldout includes several archival photos; more are inside the simple six-page credits-only booklet.  

Artist: Paul McCartney and Wings
Title: Rockshow (Eagle Vision)
You might like if you enjoy: The Beatles, Fountains of Wayne, classic rock radio
Tell Me More:  Widely considered one of the best concert films of the ‘70s, Rockshow has finally made its long awaited debut on DVD and Blu-ray. Although some of the footage initially aired on CBS-TV in 1979 and the film released in cinemas the following year, this is the first time the full length show has become available commercially.
Primarily shot at The Kingdome in Seattle during the 1976 Wings Over America tour, this great new version has a newly restored print and remastered sound. The two hour, 10 minute concert finds the entire band in a jovial mood. They do spirited hits like “Venus and Mars/Rock Show,” “Jet,” “Band on the Run” and “Live and Let Die,” several  Beatles songs that Macca was playing with Wings for the first time, an acoustic segment and the guys trade off on lead vocals. Other highlights include the sublime “My Love” (with a memorable Jimmy McCulloch guitar solo), “Silly Love Songs” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” (the live version later became a top 10 hit here).  The 10-minute bonus feature comprises backstage hijinks (some of it with Ringo Starr) and concertgoers giving their post-show assessments. Highly recommended for all McCartney fans.  
What about the packaging? Housed in a nice hardbound book, it has a reproduction of the original film poster, newspaper review clips, striking Linda McCartney photos and insightful liner notes essay penned by veteran BBC radio and TV host Paul Gambaccini.  

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