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Overlooked Alternatives: New Releases for June 13, 2006

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Rush – Replay X 3: I won't even try to be impartial here. I'm not going to fool anyone. Rush is my band. Not that I'm in the band, of course, but they're mine anyway. And today they finally fulfill a wish many a fan has had: put out those old concert videos on DVD!

When I first got into Rush, back in the early '90s, one of the first things I did was head to a big chain video/music store and check out what videos they had. This was back in the day when these places made sure to carry a really wide variety of stuff — if a band had a video out, they'd most likely have it, mostly because they couldn't afford not to carry it lest they lose that one rental to another store. So if it was available, they'd have it. And even if it was out of print, they may still have it. And have it they did — or them, I should say, as they had both of the live videos Exit . . . Stage Left and Grace Under Pressure.

My friends and I watched them a few times and that was that — back they went and life went on. I hadn't been hooked by Rush quite yet and so their out-of-print status didn't really mean much to me. (I bought a copy of the then still in-print A Show Of Hands video tape, of course, and it still remains in my collection today.) It wasn't until a few years later, when I got into the internet Rush community, that I realized these videos were long gone and that I'd lost my one chance to grab onto these and hold them dear by, as others had, (oops!) "losing" them and paying back the store for them. There was always hope they'd go back into production again. They never did.

When this new-fangled technology called "DVD" started to appear on the horizon, hope began to glimmer that we'd soon see these long-lost concerts released, but year after year, nothing.

And now, finally, after years of fretting and wondering, those original concert videos are being released. The thing is, with years to fret and wonder, the fans start looking at all the other concert videos being released from other bands' vaults with all this extra footage and they ponder the possibilities. What could Rush dig up for these that we've never seen?!

Well, it turns out…nothing. When I said "original concert videos" above, I wasn't kidding. These are the same things we saw on video years ago, just cleaned up and made real nice. And I'm not trying to be real nit-picky, because I'm thrilled to even get these on DVD, because I haven't seen two of the three in 15 years, but it is rather hard to be as excited as I would have been when I see that it's just the concerts, the same old lineup of songs, and nothing more.

It's possible nothing else exists, but it seems unlikely, especially after comments last fall when someone involved with the band and their archives mentioned finding the entire source material for the Grace Under Pressure concert; that same supposedly in-the-know person indicated that we would likely get to see the whole thing soon. Well, not here we won't.

Even A Show Of Hands remains exactly as it was on videotape — not the slightly expanded Laserdisc that was released with "Lock and Key." Why this is, no one but the band can answer, and it may turn out to be the same answer that Geddy gave when asked why the R30 material was trimmed: basically, he doesn't know anymore, but he thinks it was not really a good idea in retrospect.

Let's not focus on the negative — it's far too easy, and as bad as it sounds, I really am very excited about this. I'm just critical. Regardless of the slight flaws, just having this material again is the big deal. The band keeps mentioning that all this "missing" material is going to show up somewhere sometime soon, which hints at a retrospective boxset of some type. Now that is exciting. But until then we're just going to have to keep ourselves occupied with these great concerts. I can handle that.

Believe it or not, there's actually other stuff being released today. Let's get on with it:

The Futureheads — News and Tributes: Man, a couple years ago I really thought XTC was on the verge of a huge revival, what with half of the new bands stealing their early sound. But somehow they got entirely overlooked and all the attention fell on Talking Heads, the Jam, and a few other bands of the same period, all equally deserving, but come on — XTC deserves a pretty big moment in the spotlight too. I am absolutely convinced that without XTC, most of these bands would not exist today, and the Futureheads are one of them. That's not a bad thing — the Futureheads stealing the sound of English Settlement-era XTC is okay with me because few have been able to do it very well. Maybe XTC will get a second chance now that the Futureheads' second album is coming out. That's probably what they're hoping, too.

The Replacements — Don't You Know Who I Think I Was?: I honestly can't say I know the Replacements that well. I know — my credibility just went down the toilet. My wife's a fan and I'm aware of them through her, but that's about all. I know their legend, and I actually quite like some of Paul Westerberg's and Tommy Stinson's music quite a bit (Bash & Pop is an overlooked, out-of-print gem, Perfect is the band few even seem to know about, and Stinson's own recent solo album is sadly ignored,) but aside from that I really don't know their music. Sad, I know. Maybe this will rectify that.

Rhino is releasing this best-of preceding a complete catalog remaster due out this fall (just in time for Christmas, of course!) The story I have seen is that those Twin Tone master tapes the band claim to have destroyed in a drunken flurry way back were really not the real master masters, so what we'll get this fall is finally the best sound quality their music should be able to be available in. Consider this a preview, if you want, with the added bonus of two brand-new songs recorded in December 2005 by the band.

Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend (Legacy Edition): Oh, don't look so sour. It's been 15 years since this came out. Your old copy is probably scratched all to hell by now. If you love this album as much as you claim you do, and everyone does, you're probably jonesing to hear more. Now's your chance.

Sony's Legacy division has packed the two-disc with 31 tracks consisting of the original album, of course, plus a slew of demos, live tracks, and radio sessions, plus the usual extravagant packaging with the big booklet full of essays and photos.

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About Tom Johnson

  • http://gohah.blogspot.com Gordon Hauptfleisch

    Speaking of splintered-off Replacements, I just want to put in a good word for Chris Mars compelling first release “Horsehoes and Hand Grenades” where he wrote all the songs and played most of the instruments. He had three other solo albums, too.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    You know, I liked 100% Fun more than Girlfriend which is likely sacrilege but it won’t be a first for me.

    Those deluxe editions get pricey… but I might roll the dice on that one- it will give me a chance to remember him when he wasn’t making slightly above average duet covers albums.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    dang, i don’t own any Matthew Sweet.

    …and now i’ve got these freaking Rush videos making their way toward my credit card!

  • http://www.knownjohnson.com Tom Johnson

    DJR: I still have to pick up that covers album. I listened to a stream of that and didn’t love all of it, but some of it was really quite good. Some of it . . . well, that stuff came across like a typical covers album – heard those songs too many times and didn’t need to hear them again. Never would have put Hoffs and Matthews together, but the pairing worked out really well. Maybe Vol. 2 will be a better overall effort.

    I kind of stayed away from Girlfriend on purpose for years. You know me – I’m a fan of the underdog when it comes to music, so 100% Fun and In Reverse are the ones I’ve paid more attention to. But Girlfriend is now finally going to get some attention when I finally find an affordable copy of this thing.

    Mark: He’s one of the better modern pop song writers. Why he goes so ignored is beyond me. Much of Sweet’s catalog can be found real cheap used on Amazon and Half.com, so you can invest without too much fear. Highly recommended!

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Tom, I reviewed that disc if you are curious to get a more detailed reading of my particular thoughts on it.

    Saleski- he has some real powerpop chops, at least on his best stuff.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    so i gather….i gotta start making a list again so that when i arrive at a store i having something to go on (rather than always heading over to the “weirdo” section)

  • godoggo

    Paul Westerberg has become the guy he used to make fun of.

  • http://gohah.blogspot.com Gordon Hauptfleisch

    If that means he doesn’t drunkenly lay flat down on the stage and slur “Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got love in my tummy…”–I’ll take it.

  • godoggo

    Hmm. I never had the pleasure (I actually showed up to a Replacements show once, but was shocked to find that it was sold out – I had no idea how big they were), but I once read an interview with the Mats in which they said that, before a show, they would actually take a huddle to decide, “Well, should we suck tonight or should we blow ’em away?” Sometimes they’d decide upon the former, apparently.

  • http://gohah.blogspot.com Gordon Hauptfleisch

    It might’ve been fun if I was toward the front and they stuck to just a few stuporous-statured cover songs, but half the show became that and there was nothing to see because they were all on the floor of the stage. The decision in the huddle went against us that night.

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