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CD Reviews:
Music DVDs Run Gamut From Dudes To Divas

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2007

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At a time when we watch music almost as much as we listen to it, music DVDs are a year-round concern. But like albums and films, there’s a concentration of blockbusters in the fourth quarter of the year, and 2007 has been no exception.

Some of this season’s best visual music experiences include ...

AC/DC, “Plug Me In” (Columbia) 1 /2 — As there’s little in rock ’n’ roll that’s more fun than AC/DC, it follows that this two-disc set should be good for a few grins — or more. Divided between the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson years, each is brimming with “High Voltage” rare live, TV, video and interview footage, including three songs from the 2003 Toronto Rocks concert when AC/DC opened for the Rolling Stones. It’s a “Highway to Hell” that’s well worth traveling.

The Beatles, “Help” (Apple/ EMI) 1 /2 — Forty-two years later, the Fab Four’s second film is still a silly delight, with a sense of genuine energy as the plot chases the band from London to the Bahamas to the Austrian Alps. A second disc containing a documentary, a missing scene and cast and crew memories only enhances the experience.

Celine Dion, “A New Day ... Live in Las Vegas” (Columbia)— A look at the Canadian diva’s recently closed Sin City spectacle from all angles, with three documentaries in addition to the show itself. By the time she plays The Palace of Auburn Hills in September, you’ll know more than you ever expected — or perhaps cared to.

Bob Dylan, “The Other Side of the Mirror — Bob Dylan Live at the Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965” (Columbia/Legacy) — In just three years, Dylan went from hero to pariah at this legendary festival, where he dueted with Joan Baez in 1963 and 1964 and then unveiled his electric band in ’65. Director Murray Lerner provides perspective and context, approaching the DVD like a film rather than a compendium of random performances.

Kiss, “KISSology: Volume Three 1992-2000” (VH1 Classic) — Kiss’ vaults spew forth one more packed set of performances, including a 1992 concert at The Palace and the 1996 Tiger Stadium show that marked the reunion of the original lineup — in full make up. With four discs, there’s more than enough to help you “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

Paul McCartney, “The McCartney Years” (MPL/Rhino)

1 /2 — The “cute” Beatle’s solo career gets a worthy look-see across these three discs. Two focus primarily on his videos, including many that have not been widely viewed, while the third features a variety of live performances, including McCartney’s Live Aid and Super Bowl appearances. And McCartney’s commentaries are as engaging as the music.

Nirvana, “Unplugged in New York” (Geffen) 1 /2 — Nirana’s November 1993 “MTV Unplugged” taping was a watershed moment in the trio’s too-short career, and this adds to its legacy with the full performance — including two songs not originally broadcast — rehearsal footage and interviews. Smells, and looks, like a winner.

Oasis, “Lord Don’t Slow Me Down” (Big Brother/Hip-O/UMe) — Oasis’ turbulent history is potent documentary fare, and this delivers the tale in a dry-eyed but comprehensive manner. There’s also footage of an illuminating questionand-answer session group leader Noel Gallagher held with fans in New York City, and a full-length 2005 live show from 2005 in Manchester, England.

Tom Petty and the

Heartbreakers, “Runnin’ Down a Dream” (Warner Bros.) 1 /2— This is all a Petty fan could want — and then some. Peter Bogdanovich’s exhaustive four-hour tribute is the “Lord of the Rings” of rock documentaries, but it’s also a rich experience with an unusual and welcome depth of insight. The group’s 30th anniversary concert in its hometown of Gainesville, Fla., is a hoot, and it’s worth splurging for the deluxe edition that comes with a bonus CD of live tracks.

Elvis Presley, “Elvis #1 Hit Performances” (SonyBMG) 1 /2 — The King lives long on this 15-song collection of chart toppers performed on TV shows (including the “waistup” rendition of “Don’t Be Cruel” on the “Ed Sullivan Show” and in concerts and movies. Excerpts from press conferences help add some personality to the proceedings, too.

Queen, “Queen Rock Montreal” (Eagle Rock) — The majesty of Queen in all its campy glory is captured on this set from a 1981 Canadian concert. There are plenty of hits, including the “fast” version of “We Will Rock You” that starts the show, and a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.” And splurge for the two-disc edition that includes the group’s legendary 1985 Live Aid concert.

Various Artists, “Concert For Diana” (Universal) — There was a pleasant, homey kind of vibe to this July 2007 tribute to the late Princess Diana that was warmer than the bloated Live Earth shows that follow and that’s nicely captured on this two-CD set. A cross-section of British pop heroes (Elton John, Duran Duran, Rod Stewart), newcomers (Lily Allen, Joss Stone) and oddities (Aerosmith’s Joe Perry with ... Tom Jones?) keep things consistently entertaining.

Various Artists, “Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival” (Rhino) 1 /2 — Any fan of the six-string will spend much of these two discs with their mouths hanging open as a procession of guitar greats play with the fire that comes from sharing a stage with your peers. The only complaint is that the producers should have expanded it to three discs and included the entire show; suffice to say that just two songs from Jeff Beck’s set is not nearly enough.

The Who, “Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who ...” (Universal Studios Home Entertainment) — Considerably different from and more formal than the landmark 1979 documentary “The Kids are Alright,” this offers a comprehensive look at the British group’s career with the full cooperation of principals Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. A second disc featuring “Amazing Journey: Six Quick Ones,” hones in on the individual band members as well as other aspects of the Who’s legacy. Essential viewing.

Amy Winehouse, “I Told You I Was Trouble: Live in London” (Universal Republic) — Given the tumult of her personal life in recent weeks, it’s nice to get a reminder of why we like Winehouse in the first place. It’s the music, stupid, and this prophetically titled 16-song concert and accompanying documentary show that when she’s engaged, Winehouse is indeed the real deal.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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