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Music DVD Review: Tangerine Dream – Live at Coventry Cathedral 1975

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The artful television director Tony Palmer set his video footage of Tangerine Dream's 1975 Coventry Cathedral concert to music from the band's Ricochet album, for broadcast on the BBC. Since then the video has been available in poor quality bootlegs, but now here it is in a new DVD release.

Combining psychedelic effects with the cathedral's own architectural and artistic imagery, Palmer created an extended music video for a band whose performances, at that time, consisted of expressionless manipulation of analog synthesizers. The three musicians had a seemingly uncanny ability to build on each others' sounds in a live setting to create semi-improvisatory music of a kind that we no longer hear in this all-digital age.

In 1975, analog synthesizers hadn't been compressed into digital simulators within two-dimensional, soulless-looking electronic keyboards. Rather, they were big, sometimes huge banks of patch bays and "black boxes" manually linked together to create sound effects. This video is a good opportunity to witness how such instruments were played. Most likely, no concert of this nature will ever be performed again, by anyone.

On the video, however, the musicians' actions on keyboards and knobs don't match the music. How could they? The music is from an album that had nothing directly to do with this concert (though it was recorded at around the same time). This video is neither more nor less than an extended, psychedelic music video of a very cool (and important) band. It is not, however, what a lot of TD fans – an extremely devoted bunch – were expecting. The full title is Tony Palmer's Film of Tangerine Dream Live at Coventry Cathedral 1975. Technically, that's exactly what it is. But it led many fans to think that this was actually a film of the concert, with live sound, and it's not that at all.

At 27 minutes, with no extras and $26.98 on Amazon, it's overpriced, too, no matter what you call it and however enjoyable it may be on its own terms. Even Tangerine Dream completists might want to consider renting this first, or buying a used copy.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. He writes the blog Park Odyssey, for which he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City—over a thousand of them. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. By night he's a working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.