Here’s a trio of rock DVDs for review this time out.
Queen: Days Of Our Lives [Blu-ray]
This is an in-depth documentary on the phenomena that was and is the band Queen. Instead of concentrating on Freddie Mercury at the expense of the rest of the band, this is a pretty good attempt at explaining the different parts that make up Queen. Rarely do you find a Queen DVD with as much about the rest of the members as this. It was intriguing to hear from guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor about the debate and fallout from the infamous Queen show at the Sun City Resort in apartheid-era South Africa. Likewise, it is interesting to hear why they felt they could go on as Queen without Mercury or bassist John Deacon to work with singer Paul Rodgers. May and Taylor are not particularly reticent about expressing their opinions, which adds to appeal of the DVD.
This DVD contains the two parts of the original TV documentary, plus a collection of stuff that never got released. This extra segment could be seen as a third part as it is almost as long as each of the other two parts. This is especially the case when you include the music videos offered up as a compliment to the documentary.
Unlike many such documentaries, there is so much here that you might find yourself watching it over again to catch it all. One bit of warning: the ending with the saga of Mercury’s death is quite sad, and the footage of his filming of the videos for “Innuendo” will move all but the most cynical of viewers.
If there is only one criticism of this documentary, it is that I would have liked to have seen more contemporary stuff about Deacon. While it is true that he has become a bit of a recluse, there could have been more about his post-Queen activities. A minor quibble to be sure.
This DVD in all contains almost 300 minutes (90 minutes of bonus stuff) of material which will please any Queen fan. The fact that it is on Blu-ray with all the advantages means it is a treat for the ears as well as the eyes.
This was a pleasure from start to finish and highly recommended to all Queen fans. Those interested in learning about a band that influenced everyone from Metallica to Scissor Sisters might want to take a look as well.
Styx: Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight Live
Styx performed not one but two of their classic albums in their entirety on a recent tour. Styx has been known for their pomp and circumstance, and this show is no exception. Both albums featured several songs that previously never appeared live. They went so far as to perform a “live fade out” at the end of their set, as that is how the studio album ended.
No one can accuse Styx of not being attentive to detail. The show comes across as a production the size of a musical rather than just a rock gig. And those of you who wonder how they pulled the whole thing off will be pleased to know there is an extensive backstage documentary with interviews with guitar techs and the rest of the staff that keep the machine running. Those of you interested in their rigs will get a fairly in-depth description of each band member’s set-up (including the complication of a rotating keyboard for Lawrence Gowan).
And as this is Blu-ray, the actual music sounds great and the visuals of the show are quite impressive. Clearly, anyone who attended these gigs was in for a treat. While some purists might sneer about the fact only two original members actually appear on the stage, those who just enjoy the music won’t mind at all. The band have clearly never sounded better and this is a great testament to how good this bunch are live.
The Doors: The Story of L.A. Woman
Subtitled “Mr Mojo Risin’”, this is a documentary on the making of The Doors’ final album. There are many who would say this is probably the finest Doors album ever made and a fitting epitaph to the destructive poet madman that was Jim Morrison. There are interviews with all the surviving members of the band where they carefully balance their frustration for Morrison’s out of control actions with their admiration for his abilities, whether it’s his singing or lyricism. It is clear, however, that they know that their time as a touring band was ended by Morrison’s inability to perform live consistently. His infamous arrest in Miami, not his first, was the final straw.
On this documentary, viewers hear from an L.A. DJ of some note who waxes poetic about the qualities of the lyrics and the band. A couple of the band’s former producers also show up to give their take and compare this album’s creation to the band’s previous albums.
There is nothing really on this release that will change the minds of those who think The Doors are overrated and have only a few good songs, and it is not exactly the length you would expect from a modern Blu-ray. Ultimately, it’s more of a release for rabid Doors fans rather than those curious about the band.
Well, that is your trio of reviews for this DVD column.