Friday, March 11, 2016

Music DVD reviews: Elvis Costello, The Jam

Elvis Costello 
(Eagle Vision) 

During the past year, Elvis Costello has done solo and full band world tours, put out the autobiography Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink and companion CD retrospective, plus vinyl reissues of the early LPs. Another U.S. jaunt starts in late March.

Now comes Detour: Live at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, a stellar new home video release on DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats via Eagle Rock Entertainment. Shot last June, the 105-minute concert film begins with a quick montage of images from around the famous UK music mecca.

Then the veteran British singer/songwriter grabs a guitar to launch his 26-song solo acoustic/electric set with a vibrant “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” as an oversized retro television set flashes assorted images from the old days.

Costello delivers a strong and passionate “Watch Your Step.” He provides humorous background to many songs, including “Accidents Will Happen,” an affecting “Shipbuilding” (done on piano), “Ghost Train” and a quiet “Down on the Bottom.” The latter – from 2014’s Bob Dylan/New Basement Tapes project - is among seven tracks where he’s joined by Larkin Poe, a female roots rock duo based in Georgia.

The gals add lap steel, acoustic guitar and supple harmonies to the countrypolitan-leaning “A Good Year for The Roses,” an extended hoedown take on “(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” and more.

Among the other standouts: a down ‘n’ dirty, electrified “Watching the Detectives,” where Costello wrestles feedback from his instrument, the passionate “Alison” and “Jimmie Standing In The Rain.” Fifteen minutes of bonus live material includes the dreamy “Love Field” and “Ascension Day,” in tribute to his late collaborator Allen Toussaint, off their 2006 collaboration “The River in Reverse.”

All told, Detour is a must for diehard Costello fans. 

The Jam 
About the Young Idea 
(Eagle Vision) 

Taking a different approach than your average music documentary, About the Young Idea deftly pairs latter day interviews from members of The Jam with insights by fans and others who played a key role in the mod revival band’s career.

Each one is first introduced on screen holding a framed childhood picture, then stating their names, birth dates and birth cities. Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler are seen visiting old haunts in Woking, England and recalling their shared history (albeit separately).

For longtime enthusiasts, it’s fascinating stuff. Early Jam guitarist Steve Brookes recalls, “we disparaged everything that was current like the Bay City Rollers.” Weller admits trying to “rewrite the first Who album” on 1977 debut In the City and being inspired by The Clash and Sex Pistols.

There’s an ample amount of archival clips and performances. Weller and company candidly discuss how they were viewed as an anachronism by punk rockers and their distinct Britishness deterred a widespread commercial breakthrough in America (all the while ruling the charts at home).

Nicely bringing everything up to speed, viewers see a Jam memorabilia exhibit staged in London last year, Weller at a recent big UK festival appearance, Foxton with his current From the Jam band and Buckler working on a Jam book.

Available in 2DVD, Blu-ray+DVD, Deluxe Edition and digital formats, the real treat here is the inclusion of The Jam’s 75-minute performance on German TV show Rockpalast. The tour for 1980’s Sound Affects finds a 23-year-old Weller and his bandmates in fine fettle, especially during a fierce “Going Underground,” “Pretty Green,” a blistering “Dreams Of Children,” the infectious “Start” and thrashing version of “Strange Town.” Then Weller really gives his Rickenbacker a workout amid encores like In the City,” “David Watts” and “The Eton Rifles.”

Bonus DVD features include extended interviews. One of them - with Weller and young mod webmaster David Pottinger - shows the singer providing stories behind “That’s Entertainment,” “A Town Called Malice,” etc. Two pairs of rare and raw concert clips from London (1979) and New York City (1981) supply added proof about what an exciting force The Jam was onstage.

Highly recommended. 

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