Tag Archives: Music DVDs

How Tempting – August 2014

There’s not a great deal happening in the release schedules in August and, to make matters worse, a lot of what is happening just isn’t up my street. Since I prefer to focus on albums that I have a likelihood of buying, I’ll keep this one short.

There are only two big-hitters this month. First up, Accept continue their recent mean streak with Blind Rage (out 18th August.) The limited edition comes with a bonus DVD which seems to be a full 2013 concert in Chile. I’d say it would be worth buying just for that. Next up are US Doom Metallers Pallbearer. I’ve been meaning to buy their 2012 album Sorrow & Extinction since it’s release. What little I’ve heard so far has been excellent but now they are back with the follow-up Foundations of Burden (25th August) so I may have to buy both.

The remaining releases are a mixed bag. Opeth are a tricky one. They have rarely put a foot wrong but their last album Heritage just didn’t connect with me so I’m finding it hard to work up any enthusiasm for their latest Pale Communion (25th August). The one song I’ve heard sounded OK though so I might give it a go. Mastodon reissue their remixed and remastered debut album Remission (4th August) and while I can’t see myself rushing out to buy it, I reckon I’ll pick it up at some point.

Apart from the odd album here and there, I never really followed Ace Frehley’s solo career much. I gather that his last album Anomaly was bit hit-and-miss so I will probably treat Space Invader (18th August) with caution unless I hear some serious praise.

And that’s about the lot for August. It’s probably a good month for me to catch up on my listening pile and there are still releases I’d like to buy from previous months too; Agalloch Serpent and Sphere, Dread Sovereign All Hell’s Martyrs, The Nuge – Shut Up & Jam and Winger – Better Days Comin’. Plenty to be getting on with then!

Happy hunting in August and I’ll back soon with a Buying Round-Up.

Super Duper Alice Cooper – Deluxe Edition (Review)

Super Duper Alice Cooper Deluxe Box Set
Super Duper Alice Cooper Deluxe Box Set

Super Duper Alice Cooper (2DVD/BR/CD – £37 Love Music Glasgow)

I do love a good music documentary, which is probably just as well as they seem to be coming down the pipeline at an impressive rate these days. I blame Anvil. But few musicians warrant a film biog more than Alice Cooper. And when the film, Super Duper Alice Cooper, comes courtesy of Banger Productions (Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, VH1’s Metal Evolution and Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage) then the prospects are very promising indeed. Hot on the heels of a limited cinema run comes the release on DVD and Blu Ray. I hadn’t expected this to come out until later in 2014 so it’s a nice surprise to have a copy so soon but does it live up to its promise?

The Eyes of Alice Cooper
The Eyes of Alice Cooper

THE DOCUMENTARY

Unexpectedly, the film takes the form of an extended montage. There is no footage of the interviewees as they are now, Alice and co-stars providing only voice-overs to the stream of archive footage and images. The 87min  running time is a bit miserly for such a huge and important story so the film focuses squarely on Alice the man and performer with little discussion of the music or discography. And even then it all feels a bit breathless. The movie hurtles from anecdote to anecdote faster than you can say “Michael Bruce”. Which no-one here does. Not even once. The pace and the effect of only hearing the protagonists’ voices renders the whole thing strangely flat. And as the film progresses it is rarely as exciting or as moving as it should be.

He's no well
He’s no’ well

On the plus side, the film is a veritable treasure trove of visual material and, by cutting out the modern-day talking heads, a lot of this good stuff is crammed into the brief running time. I can understand the impulse to prioritise the historical footage but the filmmakers haven’t employed it with the dramatic and powerful effect of a film like Julien Temple’s The Filth and the Fury which took a similar approach. For long-time fans there are interesting and fresh insights into Alice’s life. Without spoiling too much, Dennis Dunaway’s recollections as the original band drift apart are sad and surprising and there is fascinating new light shed on Cooper’s addictions. The portrayal of the singer’s descent is harrowing enough to set-up a satisfying feel-good ending, as a healthier, happier Alice bounces back into action in the 80s with support from guitar-gunslinger (literally!) Kane “Rambo” Roberts. Nothing is said of his later career which seems strange as I felt that the reunion of the remaining original members with producer Bob Ezrin for Welcome 2 My Nightmare would have been a satisfying way to bring the story up to date and also full circle.

THE BOX SET

The individual DVD and Blu-Ray editions come with some extra archive footage, deleted scenes and extra interviews that were filmed for the Metal Evolution series. This deluxe version has even more extras that may prove very tempting for Coop fans. The LP-sized hardcover book has some great photos and some interesting insights from the film-makers which explain why they decided, rightly or wrongly, what approach to take with the documentary. And in addition to the DVD and Blu-Ray of the movie there is two bonus discs. The first is a DVD of footage shot from the 1972 Killer tour in Montreal. Any classic Alice Cooper concert footage is like gold-dust and I can imagine many fans buying this set for this disc alone. Sadly, the footage is very incomplete and the existing visual and audio components cut and pasted together to make as much out of it as possible. As a result the sound is often out of sync with the action and portions of the songs are missing. It’s a touch disappointing that the show is so incomplete but it is still a rare treat to the see the band in action at this point in their career. A fourth disc contains an energetic live performance from 2009’s Along Came a Spider tour at Montreaux which features some great classic material and great sound. It’s only slightly marred by some audible mic problems towards the end. I think all of the tracks here have been performed on other live releases so it’s fairly inessential in that respect but it’s a lean and rocking set and a nice bonus for any completists out there.

Taken individually the disappointing movie and patchy concert footage leave you wanting slightly more. But viewed together with the book and CD for bonus reading and listening, there’s an enjoyable evening of Cooper fun to be had here. And more archive Alice than you can shake a snake at! I still feel like the ultimate Cooper visual retrospective is still out there, waiting to be made, but this is still a welcome addition to the collection alongside Prime Cuts, Good to See You Again Alice Cooper and the many other Coop DVDs out there.

HMO Rating: 3 out of 5

Buying Round-Up – April 2013

Another “easy” month as I had a whole £80 to spend on music. If you’ve been following my progress you’ll know that I’m already £33 over budget. But in March I was able to come in under budget for the first time so let’s see if I can continue that good work this month.

Maiden England '88 - DVD and CD
Maiden England ’88 – DVD and CD

Iron Maiden – Maiden England ’88 DVD and CD (£29 – Fopp Glasgow)

Any archive release of 80s Maiden is a big deal and I was massively excited about this DVD reissue. But it turned out that the real treat is the live album which has an amazing vibe and sounds fantastic. The set-list is sublime too, mixing lesser heard tracks and classics. If you only own one Maiden live album… it should be Live after Death. But get this one as well.

Just £13 for this? Oh My.
Just £13 for this? Oh My.
Phenomenal
Phenomenal

UFO – On Air: At the BBC 1975 – 1985 (£13 – Amazon)

I had no idea this was coming out until it popped up on my Amazon recommendations. Let’s see… five CDs of radio sessions and a DVD of television performances from one of the best live bands of all time… for £13? Great Odin’s Raven, what a bargain! If you’ve ever heard any live UFO recordings you’ll know why this was a must-buy, especially at this price.

Nae Bonus Tracks!
Nae Bonus Tracks!

Blue Murder – S/T (£12 – Rock Candy)

Classic remastered debut album from John Sykes’ post-Whitesnake outfit. This was a bit of an extravagance as I already have it on vinyl but I was just really in the mood for it. An extra track, Cold Harbor, has been mistakenly listed on the back cover and booklet. This error has been perpetuated on many websites so please be aware there are no bonus tracks on this if you’re thinking of buying it for that reason.

Metalström!
Metalström!

Manilla Road – Open the Gates (£17 – Monorail Glasgow)

I’ve mentioned the joy of Manilla Road’s Crystal Logic in this blog many times now and I’ve been long overdue buying the follow-up. This is a gorgeous vinyl edition from the High Roller label. I can’t say it’s grabbing me as much as Crystal Logic but I’ve only had a couple of listens so far. And any album that has a song on it called Metalström has to rule. It just has to.

****

And I would have sailed in well under budget if hadn’t been for pesky Record Store Day which I had totally forgotten about when I was considering April’s purchases. I couldn’t let that occasion pass without treating myself. It only happens once a year, after all! So Record Store Day ended up costing me £21 and took me over budget once more. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. That’s me four months in to the HMO Challenge 2013 and I’m still managing to spend less than I did last year. I’ve still got another eight months to go! I can do this!!

APRIL 2013 TOTALS

Amount spent on purchases: £92

Amount budgeted: £80

Amount over/under budget: £12 Over

HMO CHALLENGE 2013 TOTALS

Amount spent on purchases: £305

Amount budgeted: £260

Amount over/under budget: £45 Over

Paradise Lost – Draconian Times MMXI (2DVD/CD)

A lovely set. Quite Christmassy looking... apart from the fetid skull.
A lovely set. Quite Christmassy looking! Apart from the skulls…

Been a while since I’ve watched any Music DVDs!

The 2011 reissue of Paradise Lost’s essential Draconian Times album prompted the band to play the album live in its entirety. This live DVD/CD box set documents the London stop on the tour.

Paradise Lost are usually a forward-looking band so it was a surprise to find them doing this kind of retro tour. On the basis of the show captured here, it worked out well. Draconian Times is quite a long album and I’ve always thought their recent set-lists have been a bit light on material from it. This opinion is clearly shared by the audience, whose obvious enthusiasm for this material seems to lift the band. PL play passionately throughout. Compared to their other DVD releases this concert has more oomph and more of a sense of occasion. It’s the best show I’ve seen them do and certainly the best DVD they’ve put out to date.

It took me a while to finally buy this because I felt I had enough live PL and I’m not normally a big fan of these “album” shows but it was much more enjoyable than I expected it to be. As well as the excellent gig, it’s got an extra DVD of fascinatingly drab behind the scenes footage and there are some interviews and promo videos too. The CD has the whole Draconian Times album played live with three non-Draconian songs added. Combined with lovely packaging and a booklet stuffed with contemporary reviews and articles this set is a must for fans of northern gloom!

 

Gillan – The Glory Years DVD (Review)

Gillan’s The Glory Years is, I believe, the only officially released DVD from the early 80s incarnation of the band. The main attraction here is the live set from Oxford Polytechnic in 1981. This was originally filmed for a UK TV show called Rock Goes to College and it’s a blistering set. This band was a powerful live unit and, for me, this is Ian Gillan’s peak as a performer and vocalist.

The band comes across as an exceptionally talented bunch of bizarre misfits. The frontline of Bernie Tormé with his Sci-Fi Pirate look, John McCoy with his demented half-hairdo and the urbane Colin Towns are balanced out by Ian, in straightforward, archetypal Rocker mode with his mane, denim and red jeans. This is live show is essential stuff for Gillan fans. The bonus footage is mainly mimed performances from Top of the Pops and other similar shows. Ian seems to have a bit of a hoot doing these but I doubt I’d return to them much.

The two volumes of live recordings that formed RPM’s The BBC Tapes (Volume 1: Dead of Night and Volume 2: Unchain Your Brain) are some of my absolute favourite live recordings, and while this doesn’t quite reach those giddy heights it’s great to actually see the band in action. I’ve picked On the Rocks here as it seems to move the most air! It also has some hilariously intense McCoy headbanging and sums up the whole vibe of the concert nicely. Enjoy!

HMO Rating: 3.5 out of 5