As I decompress after returning Thursday evening from my epic 26 day speaking tour trek across the U.S., thirty plus places visited and over 8000 miles traveled, I have been watching DVDs from the review pile. As we are fast approaching the holiday giving season, I thought it might be good to round-up some of what’s out there for music DVDs.
Kansas: There Know Place like Home
This is a release that I've been looking forward to ever since I heard about its existence. One of the truely great bands of the American progressive movement, they have hit 35 years of being the most exciting thing with the Kansas name. Now the band did the obvious thing and recorded this DVD in front an adoring crowd in Kansas, Topeka. Twenty tracks from all ages of their a career (on as a bonus “jam”, you know when a bunch of amazing musicians jam and it sounds anything but, recording during rehearsals). They have special guests Steve Morse and Kevin Livgen to increase the attraction of the gig.
It's really going to be hard to find fault with this stunning DVD, which might not have all the bells and whistles in the form of extras, but it speaks with music. Kansas is not a bunch of young guys, so don’t expect lots of jumping around on stage, instead they deliver a quite an impressive collection of songs from their extensive back catalogue. They toss in their most well known material like “Point of Know Return”, “Dust in the Wind”, and naturally “Carry On Wayward Son”. You will have no doubt heard this on classic rock radio a myriad of times. They are great songs which every inch deserved the recognition they got. See the band play these great songs live with a full orchestra.
I can’t see any reason why a Kansas fan or a classic rock/progressive enthusiast would not want this on their wish list. As you would expect from Kansas it's quality music in a quality package that is well worthy of repeated viewing. You would be hard pressed to find a better value for your DVD gift giving. It's great the band chose to celebrate such a major anniversary in such a big way.
Meatloaf: Bat out of Hell
This is yet another one of those Rockenplast releases from the famous show in Germany. Unlike many shows in the U.K., it seems like the German channels kept every single gig they every recorded whether good or not. This is probably one of the shortest DVDs you will be ever find, with only seven songs in total, from the original Bat Out of Hell release. Meatloaf as you have seen, in the videos to the songs on MTV, is a bloated and sweaty mess most of the time, but able to blast the songs in a way few can muster.
I am not quite sure what the attraction is to this DVD. Granted it's amusing to see Jim Steinman interview, with Meatloaf, by a German TV host. There is little that might suggest his future “eccentric” mannerisms. Steinman plays keys on the tour and sings backing vocals to many of the tracks. You probably know all these tracks to heart and maybe even subjected others to your own butchered versions in some drunken karaoke here or there.
This is one for the most hard-core of hard-core Meatloaf fan. This music exists in a better form in so many different places. A curiosity, for sure, but not sure it’s worth buying.
Billy Idol: In Super Overdrive
Another short and sweet, no frills live DVD. This time it's Billy Idol back in his great old form with his ole’ sparring partner Steve Stevens on guitar. Idol’s music really deserves the flamboyant fiery licks that Stevens produces. It's good to see them back working together. It’s a tight band that gives the back to the sneer merchant that he really needs.
Of course, as you no doubt expect and demand, he plays all his 80s heyday hits including “White Wedding” and the ode to self-pleasure in the form of “Dancing with Myself”. I was fortunate enough to get the Blu-ray version for review and it does impress with the quality of sound and vision. Those wondering what he has been up to of late get to hear a few tracks from his recently released, and welcomed, album The Devil’s Playground. He even includes a cover of Lita Ford’s “Kiss me Deadly,” which I found most surprising.
A hard rock popster with punk attitude and sneer, Idol was always welcomed by rockers at any rock disco they attended. Whether it’s the alternate lyric version of his cover of “Money Money” (not included on here alas) or the creepy anthem “Eyes without a Face,” Idol delivers music with all the attitude he can muster. A solid live release despite the paucity of extras.
Thin Lizzy: Are you Ready
Do we really need another live Thin Lizzy DVD release when you consider the quality of the “Live & Dangerous” and the “Still Dangerous” outings? Well the folks at Rockenplast, that perennial German live music show, seem to think so. On this release Lynott and company produce a greatest hits collection of tracks including all the ones you would expect like “Boys are Back in Town”, “Jailbreak” and the track that gives this release its name.
Now for something headlined “greatest hits live” you would expect songs like “Whiskey in a Jar” but that is no where to be found. I can’t say this is the most impressive live release from Thin Lizzy and there is nothing that special here to make it “essential” for anyone. Filmed in 1981, the live gig is the only thing on this DVD, there is nothing in the form of bonuses or extras to attract anyone with any live Thin Lizzy already in their collection. To be honest I can’t see why this would be attractive to anyone other than a Lizzy completist.
Lizzy live is always a treat for the ears, I am just not sure if this DVD is a treat for either the eyes or the wallet.
This is Creed’s first live DVD and it was filmed on their most recent set of “re-union” gigs. The band plays a few tracks on here that have recently been released on the album Full Circle, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts. This DVD was filmed in front an enthusiastic crowd of fans, as well as watched on the internet by thousands more.
The trouble for me is I still don’t get it. Creed still come across as one of the most boring bands on the planet with all their songs sounding alike. They have a brace of great tracks in the form of “Higher”, “ With Arms Wide Open” and “My Sacrifice” granted. The rest of it just sounds like the same sub-grunge plod down in a variety of ways. Stapp does some-Eddie Vedder vocals over some decent playing, but it just never really rises above okay. It all plods along so frustratingly.
Creed still come across as the Stryper for the 00s wearing their “Christian” message on their sleeve and riding on it. The guys in this band can certainly play, just check out their Stapp-less band Alter Bridge. Stapp does the consummate front-man bit and his ego, that caused the break-up in the first place, clearly has not abated.
Creed fans, and there are lots of them, will no doubt eat this release up with its mini-documentary about the tour, preview of a forthcoming box-set and photo gallery as extras. For the rest of us it's still a mystery how this bunch of PJ/AiC clones made it so huge.
GI Joe: Resolute
This is a DVD, but is not music at all. However this new re-booted anime-like GI Joe is very metal indeed. Gone are the twee, blood-less battles of the original 80s series and in comes a no holds-barred proper action animated featured that shows Gi Joe does not have to be a camp cheese fest. If you ever liked GI Joe and wanted to see what an “mature” anime version would be like, then check this out. It’s a great bit of action anime and seeing Cobra as the bad-arses you always knew they would be, is great.
Yo Joe for sure.
Well that is your DVD lot for this week. Expect a column full of hard rock and metal goodness quicker than normal. I have spent the last three weeks on the road listening to all the albums on my Touch. Check out live music where you can and stay safe.