Monday, October 7, 2013

Amnesty International's Human Rights Concerts get DVD release

On Nov. 5, Shout! Factory will issue ¡RELEASED! – a six-disc DVD box-set and two-disc companion CD of the historic Human Rights Concerts presented by Amnesty International from 1986-1998.

Net proceeds from sales of the DVD set and CDs benefit Amnesty.

The release coincides with the 25th anniversary this fall of the most high-profile of all the concerts in the series - the Human Rights Now! world tour. The six-week, five-continent, 20-concert tour of the world in 1988 was headlined by Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N'Dour and was seen by over one million concert attendees in person and by millions more on television.

Its mission was to raise awareness of the cause and it succeeded in tripling the movement’s worldwide membership. These new DVD and CD releases also arrive just five weeks before worldwide commemorations on Dec. 10 of the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the Magna Carta of the human race that was instigated after World War II by Eleanor Roosevelt and that has been an inspiration for Amnesty’s 52 years of worldwide campaigning for human rights.

The Human Rights Concerts series comprises four films: The first film presents over five hours drawn from the all-day final concert of A Conspiracy Of Hope - Amnesty’s 25th anniversary concert tour of the USA in June 1986. The second film is of the above-referenced historic Human Rights Now! world tour undertaken in September and October 1988. The third film is An Embrace Of Hope - the October 1990 concert in Chile celebrating that nation’s liberation after 17 years of dictatorship. The fourth and final film is The Struggle Continues… – the concert staged in Paris in 1998 on the exact 50th anniversary of the signing in that city of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This DVD set – all digitally-restored from the original master tapes - features 36 of the world’s leading musicians performing some of their biggest hits live in concert for the benefit of Amnesty. The DVD set contains 120 songs extending over 12 hours of disc time. The set also contains 32 additional segments featuring contextual content and additional music performances that together comprise almost 5 hours of supplementary features. The full running time of the box-set is just 12 minutes short of 17 hours.

Three of the four concert films have never been issued before in any video or audio format. In the mode of that era’s Live Aid concert they were seen just once on TV – and were not subsequently made available for home enjoyment. The fourth film – from 1998 - had a limited VHS & DVD release 14 years ago and has been long unavailable. Of the 16 hours & 48 minutes of content on the DVD box-set, 14 hours 18 minutes (85%) has never previously been available on DVD or any home video format in North America.

The DVD box-set consists of six discs plus a 40-page booklet with rare archival photographs and extensive liner notes including a 10,000 word essay on the history of the concerts by writer Gregory Weinkauf.

Also being released is a two-disc CD presenting 30 highlight performances from across the four concerts.

The list of musicians who contributed their services to the concerts is extraordinary and includes some of the world’s foremost artists - drawn from several nations and representing a wide range of musical styles. The primary factor uniting them was their desire to donate their time and talents to place a spotlight on Amnesty’s crucial work campaigning for people whose human rights are abused.

The Human Rights Concerts series started in 1986 – evolving out of Amnesty’s desire to capitalize and build on the invaluable support it was receiving from the rock music community. This had first manifested itself in Amnesty’s Secret Policeman’s Ball series of benefit shows, albums and movies beginning in 1976, that had presented musical performances by Pete Townshend, Sting, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Phil Collins, Tom Robinson, Donovan, Midge Ure and Bob Geldof. Those entertainment events were a crucial turning point in Amnesty’s strategy of inspiring young people to become active participants in the human rights movement.

A key organizational figure in the first three events of the Human Rights Concerts series was Jack Healey, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA between 1981-1993. The 1986 US tour and 1988 world tour were co-produced with seasoned rock promoter Bill Graham. The 1998 Paris concert was organized by Amnesty planning officer Blair Gibb and Peter Gabriel.

The Human Rights Concerts have been restored and produced for release by longtime (37 years) Amnesty activist and producer Martin Lewis - who was Co-Creator (with John Cleese) of Amnesty's Secret Policeman's Ball series and Co-Producer of all the 'Ball' shows, movies, TV specials and albums between 1976-1985. It was Lewis who first instigated Amnesty's outreach to rock musicians by recruiting and producing Pete Townshend and the other above-referenced musicians. Lewis and Healey together conceived Amnesty’s 1988 world tour.

Among the hallmarks of the concerts were the unique musical collaborations that arose between the artists. The concerts include duets and ensemble performances featuring various combinations of Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Bono, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, Joan Baez, Jackson Browne, Lou Reed, Youssou N’Dour, Aaron Neville, Steven Van Zandt, Bob Geldof and Bryan Adams.

The companion content includes 17 sequences under the collective title Context On The Human Rights Concerts. Among the segments:

• Light A Candle! - a brand-new documentary about the concert series featuring new exclusive interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Bono, Peter Gabriel, Pete Townshend and others.

• New, stand-alone, in-depth interviews with Bruce Springsteen and Sting about their support for Amnesty

• Peter Gabriel’s home movies of the 1986 Amnesty tour featuring backstage moments and an historic jam

• Special messages in support of Amnesty from some of the world’s leading actors, comedians and musicians.

• Archival interviews, promotional sequences, TV news coverage, performances not seen in the original films

• 20-minute animated film about human rights curated in 1988 by Aardman Animation - featuring a specially-created score by David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Danny Elfman and Mark Mothersbaugh.

The companion content also features 15 additional music sequences. Two key performances from the Secret Policeman’s Ball series by Pete Townshend and Sting that helped inspired the Human Rights Concerts and thirteen new performances given for Amnesty in the last ten years by major music stars that represent part of the legacy of the concert series. The performers for Amnesty from the last decade include: Green Day, Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Jeff Beck, Seal, Ozzy Osbourne, Joe Perry, Bono, Damien Rice, Pete Seeger, Evan Rachel Wood, David Byrne.

Shout! Factory will be issuing ¡RELEASED! in North America. In the world outside North America, Amnesty’s six-disc ¡RELEASED! DVD box-set and companion CD sets will be issued by Eagle Rock Entertainment.

Amnesty’s Human Rights Concerts will be honored with special theatrical screening events in Los Angeles and New York this fall - presented by two of America’s most prestigious cultural organizations.

On Nov. 3, The American Cinematheque in Los Angeles will present the World Premieres of ¡RELEASED! a 95-minute film of highlights from the concerts and LIGHT A CANDLE! the 40-minute documentary about the history of the series. (The Aero Theatre, Santa Monica – Nov. 3 at 3 pm) Special guests at the screening will be Andy Summers of The Police and DVD box-set producer Martin Lewis among others.

On Dec. 10, The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan will present the New York Premieres of the two films. The MoMA Premiere takes place on International Human Rights Day – that this year commemorates the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (The Museum of Modern Art, Manhattan – Dec. 10 at 7 pm)

¡RELEASED! The Human Rights Concerts 1986-1998 includes:

A Conspiracy of Hope (1986)

5½ hours including U2 MLK/Pride, Bad, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Help! • The Police Message In A Bottle, Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, King Of Pain • Peter Gabriel Sledgehammer, Biko, Shock The Monkey • Bryan Adams Straight From The Heart, Run From You, Summer of ‘69 • Joni Mitchell Number One, Hejira • Miles Davis Tutu, Burn • Jackson Browne For Everyman, For America • Joan Baez & Aaron Neville Amazing Grace • Joan Armarading Love And Affection • Lou Reed Rock And Roll, Walk On The Wild Side • Ensemble I Shall Be Released - and 37 more songs.

Human Rights Now! (1988)

3 hours including Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Born In The USA, I'm On Fire, The River • Sting Don’t Stand So Close To Me, Every Breath You Take • Peter Gabriel In Your Eyes, Biko • Youssou N’Dour The Truth • Tracy Chapman Talkin’ About A Revolution • Ensemble Chimes Of Freedom, Get Up, Stand Up - and 8 more songs.

An Embrace of Hope (1990)

72 minutes including Sting Little Wing, They Dance Alone • Sinead O’Connor Nothing Compares 2 U • Jackson Browne Lives In The Balance • Peter Gabriel Biko • Wynton Marsalis Jungle Blues - and 4 more songs.

The Struggle Continues…(1998)

2½ hours including Radiohead Karma Police, Paranoid Android • Bruce Springsteen No Surrender, Born In The USA • Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Rock and Roll • Alanis Morissette Hand In My Pocket, Thank U • Peter Gabriel & Youssou N'Dour Signal To Noise, Shaking The Tree • Tracy Chapman Fast Car, Baby Can I Hold You? – and 16 more songs.

Other performers include Bob Geldof • Third World • The Hooters • Peter, Paul & Mary • Steven Van Zandt • Rubén Blades • Howard Jones • The Neville Brothers • Inti-Illimani • New Kids On The Block • Asian Dub Foundation • Kassav' • Shania Twain • Carlos Santana and Fela Kuti.

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