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Gene ClarkGene Clark
The Byrd Who Flew Alone
(Four Sun Productions)

Go on, be honest, have you even heard of Gene Clark? You could be forgiven for drawing a blank as the Byrds were never as big on this side of the Atlantic as they were in the US and Gene Clark’s tenure with the band was limited to the first two years – albeit the most important two years - of their existence (a three week visit in 1967 and brief reconciliation in 1973 aside), and it was in these early stages of the band’s career that Clark would prove his prowess as a songwriter providing much of the original material on the first three albums before going on to pepper his four, exceptionally good, solo albums with a great deal more of the same. Sadly these solo albums made far less impact than they should have due to Clark’s self-destructive behavior and his unwillingness to tour in support of them (he hated flying, in fact his departure from the Byrds was precipitated by a panic attack on a plane bound for New York and Roger McGuinn telling him, "If you can't fly, you can't be a Byrd”), all of which makes for a genuinely fascinating story which is beautifully told here. Really, watch this, you won’t be disappointed.
The Oracle

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Leonard CohenLeonard Cohen
Bird On A Wire
(Boulevard Entertainment Ltd)

Best known to all of us non-believers as being a bit of a glum-boy, Leonard Cohen is in fact very, very funny! No really, surprised me as well, making up songs on the spot and firing off self-deprecating bon-mot’s to a series of increasingly dreadful interviewers, in fact, a couple of woefully worthy poems aside, this film is an absolute joy, following Cohen on his 1972 European tour (and part of the current Tony Palmer music movie re-release series) this film documents everything from rucks with security at the Tel Aviv show to a final Jerusalem gig which begins rather badly but ends in genuine tears of emotion. Along the way we encounter legions of adoring toothsome ladies (one of whom he snogs on stage before admitting to camera that he had ‘disgraced himself’), a truly appalling PA system which parps and farts at the most inopportune moments – Cohen actually tries to pay two disgruntled Germans back out of his own pocket, and invites punters who cannot hear properly up onto the stage - and reams of hand held cinéma vérité style footage (not unlike Don’t Look Back only without the short grumpy Jewish chap). If, like this reviewer, you have previously struggled to understand Cohens charm, get this and all will become abundantly clear.
Josh Marks

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The Cockney RejectsThe Cockney Rejects
East End Babylon
(Cadiz Music)

Depending on who you talk to the East End of London (from which this reviewer hails, so has a little insight into the area), has had the heart and soul ripped from it by successive governments or is a hotbed of unpleasantness wherein you can get twatted for just looking at someone the wrong way. The truth is somewhere in the middle, and it is in this grey area that The Cockney Rejects dwell, self confessed West Ham supporting, football hooligans and lovers of ‘a bit of a ruck’ the two main Rejects, ex-boxing brothers Mickey Geggus and Jeff ‘Stinky Turner’ Geggus, are by turns very endearing, incredibly irritating, hugely enthusiastic and downright nasty pieces of work, so why should you give a toss about these two lairy buggers? Well their pig headed doggedness in pursuit of a career which began with sheer brazen chutzpah and could easily have ended in death on several occasions (and which they themselves also derailed several times), plus their delightfully heavy handed treatment of the idiot Nazis which dogged the live shows of many bands in the Oi movement are two very good reasons to dip into this excellent documentary which we’re adding to the increasing list of indispensible music docs on the office shelves.
The Oracle

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Larry Carlton & Robben FordLarry Carlton & Robben Ford
Unplugged (Wienerworld)

If you are unfamiliar with the names these two guitarists are considered to be amongst the top players in their field (Carlton’s guitar work can be heard on Crusaders and Steely Dan albums – Rolling Stone reckon his solo on ‘Kid Charlemagne’ from their 1976 LP The Royal Scam is the third best guitar solo on record – Ford has played with Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Little Feat, George Harrison and, erm, Kiss), so this unplugged pairing, their first ever, at The New Morning club in Paris was always going to be a guitar fans wet dream. Whilst ostensibly both jazz guitarists the meeting of Carlton’s precise fusion style with Ford’s more muscular blues based chops is an absolute delight throughout with Claude Salmieri on drums and the delightfully named Fifi Chayeb on bass supplying a rhythmic bedrock from which the guitarists can fly. The original album release attracted some complaints of this sounding too much like a jam session, which when you are talking about a live blues/jazz show is a bit like complaining that ice cream is too cold, so yes the guys do jam but the interplay and improvisation is superb and if anything this reviewer wished the DVD was longer.
Paul Riley

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Phil Collins Phil Collins
Live At Montreux 2004: Blu-ray
(Eagle Vision)

Phil Collins is no stranger to the stages at Montreux – in fact he lived for some time in Jackie Stewart's former pad located just over Lake Geneva in Begnins – and this DVD gathers two such performances including a hit laden romp from 2004 and a big band extravaganza from 1996. Of course just how much this appeals to you will be directly linked to whether or not you find Collins a pint sized drumming powerhouse and masterful musician who can also boast a nifty way with a chorus or a bit of a prat (there’s seldom a middle ground with Collins). This reviewer has to admit Collins is something of a guilty pleasure, as indeed are later period Genesis, and anyone who argues that ‘One More Night’, ‘I Missed Again’ ‘In The Air Tonight’ or ‘Another Day In Paradise’ aren’t exemplary pop songs is a fool. Boasting almost forty songs and two complete concert performances (all needless to say brilliantly played), this DVD goes well beyond value for money and, for the committed Phil Collins fan at least, is an immediate purchase no brainer. Also available on plain old DVD.
Ray Harper

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Cabaret VoltaireCabaret Voltaire
Johnny YesNo
(Mute)

A welcome return for the, now impossible to find, original film-noir mini-movie Johnny YesNo by Peter Care and soundtracked by Cabaret Voltaire only now with a new re-imagining of the cult film (transplanted from the grim UK north to the seedy US west coast), plus two hours of bonus material, new mixes and exclusive tracks. Does the film make any more sense with a new redux spin on things? Not really, but then the original was always more of a nod towards writers like William Burroughs and J.G. Ballard so an easily definable story arc was never likely, or indeed necessary, and certainly the soundtrack benefits hugely from all the extra music on offer. That said it would perhaps have been nice to round out the package with the Cab’s original soundtrack album and/or even their other link up with director Peter Care on the 1984 video for ‘Sensoria’, but these are minor gripes in the face of the extensive amount of bonus material on offer (this is after all a 4 disc 2xCD and 2xDVD set) and is a must have for both Cab’s fans and art movie buffs alike.
Josh Marks

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Elvis Costello Elvis Costello
Spectacle: Elvis Costello With…
(Wienerworld)

Fans of the first season of this series of shows (and we count ourselves amongst them, you can find our review of the first series here), shot at Harlem's Apollo Theater and Toronto's Masonic Temple, will already be aware of the format, wherein Costello chats with an eclectic list of musical greats - as in the first series there are no searing insights to be had here and things do tend to get a bit luvvie in places, but the interviews are as much of a performance as the songs - and peppers the proceedings with musical interludes, a mix of Costello originals, the guests hits, some inspired cover versions, and this two-disc set feature all seven episodes of the second season of the show, plus over an hour of bonus features as Elvis shoots the breeze with Bono and The Edge, Bruce Springsteen, Neko Case, Sheryl Crow, Ron Sexsmith, Jesse Winchester, Nick Lowe, Richard Thompson, Allen Toussaint, Levon Helm, Mary-Louise Parker, John Prine, Lyle Lovett, and Ray Lamontagne. Bonus features include behind-the-scenes documentary Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... Inside Notes hosted by co-Producer David Furnish and bonus songs from Elvis & The Imposters and guests.
Ray Harper

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Chico & RitaChico & Rita
(Icon Home Entertainment)

For all the jazz buff music fans out there Chico & Rita is an animated film featuring cameo appearances from legendary jazz artists like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Chano Pozo, Chucho Valdes, Tito Puente, Ben Webster, and Thelonious Monk and boasting an original soundtrack by Cuban pianist, bandleader and composer Bebo Valdés. For the film buffs it’s a marvellous collaboration between filmmaker and music producer Fernando Trueba, artist and designer Javier Mariscal and animator and director Tono Errando (Trueba and Mariscal first met whilst working on Latin jazz documentary Calle 54). For everyone else it’s simply a beautifully animated film centred around the love affair between two musicians which spans six decades and several different countries kicking off in 1948 in Havana. If you are sitting there thinking that jazz and animation don’t sound like your cup of tea then you probably won’t want to hear that it’s also a Spanish film (yup, that means subtitles) but we promise you we persuaded several people with just such prejudices to sit and watch it and they were very pleasantly surprised, as we think you will be. So not one for Steven Seagal fans then, but that is surely a good thing.
Josh Marks

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Can't Stop the MusicCan't Stop the Music
(Optimum Home Entertainment)

From the opening scene’s roller-skating record shop assistant Jack (Steve Guttenberg) - an aspiring disco composer who finds it hard to get his music recorded – you know you are slap bang in the middle of the late ‘70s early ‘80s disco boom. For the uninitiated the story revolves around a retired model who invites friends from Greenwich Village to a party to help the career of her, previously mentioned, room-mate, and also stars The Village People who I’m happy to report spend their time fully costumed up – the first time you encounter the ‘Native American Indian’ he’s watching telly in full headdress. Yes, the script would probably struggle to fill the back of a fag packet, yes the acting is abysmal (none of the Village People can act for toffee) and yes the dialogue makes your toes curl but if you still have that shirt with the huge collar, a manhole cover sized medallion, ankle-flapper flares, clonking great platform shoes or any of that skin tight shiny stuff the laydees used to wear, and fancy a night of idiotic, camp as a tent shop, escapist nostalgia then you really can’t go wrong with this.
Josh Marks

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SpectacleElvis Costello
Spectacle: Elvis Costello With… Season 1
(Wienerworld)

Those of you familiar with the pally, 'let’s all sit around and have a jam' presentation style of Jools Holland’s Later may have assumed that this would be more of the same – not that Later is a duff concept, when it works it works very well indeed – but this is a far more weighty affair (not least because Elvis Costello can actual conduct interviews). Featuring a truly open minded mix of guests including Bill Clinton, Tony Bennett, Lou Reed, the Police, Smokey Robinson, Rufus Wainwright, Jakob Dylan, Jenny Lewis, Diana Krall, Herbie Hancock, and James Taylor, Costello consistently keeps the discussions rolling in the right direction, whilst never feeling the need to interrupt an interesting anecdote, and the musical interludes are a great mix of Costello originals, the guests hits, and some inspired covers – so for example on the episode with the Police we get a medley of ‘Walking on the Moon’, ‘Watching the Detectives’ and Cream's ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ - and with a backing band that often includes jazz greats like James Burton and Allen Toussaint the musicianship levels never drop below red hot. Over ten hours of footage and a slew of material which didn't make the telly-box make this a very desirable boxset indeed.
The Oracle

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The Cinematic Orchestra The Cinematic Orchestra
Man With a Movie Camera
(Ninja Tune)

The history of this release is a convoluted one as in late 1999 J Swinscoe and Co. were asked by the organisers of the Porto European City of Culture if they wanted to score a one off live soundtrack to a silent movie to open their celebrations, it was a huge success and they went on to perform the score live at film festivals from Turkey to Scotland. The work then influenced their album Every Day (2002) , which in turn was then reworked and reprised to create what you hear on this genuinely wonderful DVD. Of course The Cinematic Orchestra are by no means the first people to add soundtrack music to Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov’s classic silent film essaying life in Russia during the 1920s - Man With a Movie Camera was rightly recognised at the time, and since, as a masterpiece - as both Michael Nyman and Biosphere have had a stab at creating a musical accompaniment which suitably compliment the visuals, and both certainly created memorable efforts. To these ears however The Cinematic Orchestra have totally nailed it ensuring that you often forget the soundtrack wasn’t actually a part of the film from day one.
Josh Marks

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Larry CarltonLarry Carlton
Larry Carlton And The Sapphire Blues Band - Paris Concert (Wienerworld)

If you’re the sort of person who enjoys doing such things you can actually unearth session work by Larry Carlton recorded during the 1970s and early 1980s on albums by Steely Dan (including the guitar solo on ‘Kid Charlemagne’, reckoned by Rolling Stone magazine to be the third best on record ever), Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones and (eek!) the Partridge Family, he also trod the boards with the Crusaders (1971 to 1976), survived being shot in the throat in 1988 and has won three Grammys for his performances and compositions, including the theme music for the hit television series 'Hill Street Blues' in 1981. This DVD captures Carlton playing live with Nashville's Sapphire Blues Band at Paris' famous New Morning Festival in 2004 and finds him in superb form expertly meshing jazz and blues alongside some genuinely lovely acoustic interludes. Carlton’s playing is so effortless he can often gets overlooked in favour of more flashy, less technically gifted, guitarists but don’t be deceived, just because he makes it look easy doesn’t denote any lack of passion, and this DVD is a great starting point for anyone keen to find out more.
Paul Riley

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The CureThe Cure
Trilogy - Blu-ray
(Eagle Rock)

Regarded by many Cure fans as the holy grail of Cure performances Trilogy was recorded live on November 11th and 12th in 2002 at the Tempodrom Berlin, and was regarded as such due to the band performing, in their entirety, the albums Pornography, Disintegration, and Bloodflowers, albums which, although widely spaced throughout the bands back catalogue are described by Cure main man Robert Smith as ‘inextricably linked’. Previously available as a DVD this version includes oodles of interview footage as bonus material (and some encore footage) but really it’s the superb sound and vision which are the major draw, filmed in Hi-Definition video, presented in anamorphic widescreen and provided with two soundtrack options; a PCM Stereo mix for the audiophiles, or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for that genuine ‘feels-like-you-were-there’ experience. Of course you may well prefer the jaunty ‘Love Cat’s’ end of the Cure spectrum in which case this will almost certainly prove heavy going, but for those of us who prefer old backcombed Bobsy in chilly Grimley Feendish mode this is manna from Cure heaven, we’d even go so far as to say it’s an essential addition to your collection.
Ruby Palmer

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ControlControl
(Momentum)

Come on, try and recall the last music biopic you saw which didn’t stink worse that a two week old halibut (like those made for TV Beach Boys and Buddy Holly farrago’s). Yes the recent Ray Charles and Johnny Cash efforts were a step in the right direction but both suffered from what could best be described as ‘factional’ interludes, and don’t get me started on the execrable Great Balls Of Fire, Sid and Nancy or (lord help us) Hendrix. In short the history of music biopic’s is not one littered with gems. All of which makes Anton Corbjn’s telling of the story of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, even more of a triumph. Of course the problem with films which arrive in a blizzard of superlatives is that they’re already on a hiding to nothing as expectations are sky high and anything short of perfection tends to disappoint, however, at the risk of making things even worse for Control, this genuinely is the best music biopic ever made, period. It may be as grim as an old ‘60s kitchen sink drama but then Curtis’s was a grim tale, and it’s told here with passion, honesty and subtlety by all of those involved.

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Nick Cave & The Bad SeedsNick Cave & The Bad Seeds
The Abattoir Blues Tour (Mute)

Nice Cave is shaping up to be the sort of artist who’s career will bear continuous watching, heading for the rarefied realms of Young, Reed, Cohen, Waits and Cash, something his early gothic years with the Birthday Party didn’t necessarily portend – hell at one point he did his level best to join Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison and Cobain. This live document of his finest work to date (more here) is up to Mute’s usual high packaging standard spreading live material over two DVD’s and two CD’s (plus a smattering of video’s) and proves that in full flow the suited and booted Cave & Co. are an infinitely more fearsome live proposition than any number of be-tattooed metal merchants. Cave, a stick thin master of ceremonies testifying, throwing shapes, never less than totally involved, pouring sweat, Warren Ellis scraping away on the violin like the hounds of Hades are snapping at his heels, James Johnston pummelling his battered keys and guitars as if his life depended on it, this is the sort of live effort that justifies the existence of performance DVD’s. Simply put if you have an even passing interest in the man this is an essential addition to an increasingly essential body of work.

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John CaleJohn Cale
John Cale
(Warner Music Vision)

We follow Cale on a journey back to Wales to trace his early roots, roots which would grow into experimental work with composers like John Cage (Cale participated in the 18-hour piano-playing marathon that was the first full-length performance of Satie's ‘Vexations’), his groundbreaking work with The Velvet Underground and beyond to his sporadic solo projects and production work with people like Nico, Iggy Pop and Patti Smith. The usual suspects, like Warhol acolyte Billy Name are wheeled out for talking head purposes and author Victor Bockris follows Cale around the foothills of Wales, but the documentary also draws some fascinating inputs from the likes of La Monte Young, Chris Spedding, Moe Tucker, and yes, even notorious grump Lou Reed – who is unexpectedly easy going throughout, although flatly refuses to talk about booting Cale out of the band on film. Needless to say the soundtrack is tremendous and there is some wonderful tape and film archive material of the Factory, VU and Cales own family (although the graphic Slaughterhouse footage seems unnecessarily gruesome and tacked on, even given Cale’s occasional penchant for onstage chicken mutilation).

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Johnny CashJohnny Cash
The Line: Walking With A Legend
(WHE)

Something of a peculiarity this as the initial stilted voice over leads you to assume this is going to be another duff cash in (ha!), timed to coincide with the recent hit biopic, but just as you’re about to reach for the remote up pops some grainy old concert footage, and lo and behold up pops some more, then more, and we’re not just talking clips here, these are whole songs. Indeed so much of this rare footage is there that the story is more or less relegated to brief bullet points leaving you desperate for more depth whilst simultaneously hoping the voice over would bugger off so you can watch performances of ‘Pickin’ Time’, ‘I Got Stripes’, ‘Frankie & Johnny’ or old TV interviews with Pete Seeger. If you’re after an in depth look at the life and times of Johnny Cash then this ain’t it, if however you’re after shed-loads of truly wonderful old black and white concert footage then you’ve come to the right place as the vast majority of this DVD is just that. There’s also a bonus CD featuring, in the main, scratchy old live solo classics by the million dollar quartet of Cash, Elvis, Jerry Lee and Carl Perkins.

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The CarsThe Cars
The Cars Unlocked
(Warner Music Vision)

Very much a band of their time, the Cars bestrode the ‘80s like a nerdy new wave synth rock colossus selling millions of multi-platinum records, packing stadiums and grabbing a major slice of Live Aid kudos when their, actually rather lovely (and totally out of character), song ‘Drive’ was used to soundtrack horrific documentary footage of the Ethiopian famine. This collection of live tracks comes interspersed with wacky (generally poor quality) home video footage, and obscure interview sections - sad to say the lads come across as rather irritating and bratty (Elliot Easton in particular has the sort of personality only a mother could love) – and includes all the hit’s like ‘Just What I Needed’, ‘Best Friends Girl’, ‘You Might Think’ and of course ‘Drive’, all this and plenty of ‘80s new wave costume changes and feather cuts. Produced by Ric Ocasek, who steadfastly refuses to reconvene the band (Benjamin Orr died on October 3, 2000) this is probably now the closest you will ever get to live Cars shows (if you don’t include Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes joining forces with Todd Rundgren in the ill-conceived The New Cars in 2005), and also includes a 14 track bonus live CD.

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Eric ClaptonEric Clapton
Live At Montreux 1986
(Eagle Vision)

It’s no secret that some of the grumpier gits at TM Towers just don’t rate EC in the guitar god stakes, indeed they don’t even consider him the best guitarist in the Yardbirds and point gleefully to his most recent, admittedly lacklustre, albums as proof positive that Clapton is a spent force. Rewind twenty years however and we find not only a positively energised Clapton grinning like a loon, singing up a storm and playing like a man possessed with Phil Collins, Greg Phillinganes and Nathan East but also happily playing both early Cream material like ‘Badge’, ‘White Room’, ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ and ‘Crossroads’, and solo hits like ‘Cocaine’, ‘Layla’ and ‘I Shot The Sheriff’ (he even let’s Collins loose to do ‘In The Air Tonight’). It’s perhaps telling that by mid set he’s sweating buckets and still clearly having a ball – you seldom see such evidence of workmanlike toil staining his Armani nowadays. So we have yet another little gem dug out of the vaults at Montreux and this is going straight into the office for a date with the naysayers, if you’ve ever had any doubts about the mans talent here’s your starter for ten.

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Ivor CutlerIvor Cutler
Looking For Truth With A Pin
(Claptrap)

First seen on television (and recorded before the great mans demise) this wonderful and touching documentary looks at the life and work of an artist who genuinely deserves the epithet ‘unique’. Including plenty of absolutely cracking archive footage and populated with admirers like Paul McCartney, Billy Connolly and Robert Wyatt – plus more personal insights from Cutlers son Dan, his partner Phyllis King and from the visibly amused chap himself – what emerges is the truly remarkable story of a man wilfully out of step and knowingly out of time but who despite these handicaps, and despite making his convoluted way into the entertainment industry very late in life, managed to create an enormous, and enormously influential, body of work (read our Class Act feature here). What makes this an even more desirable item are the extras, including interview outtakes from the original film and Cutlers last performance at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall recorded in Feb 2004, wherein a visibly frail and shaky 81 year old Cutler proves nonetheless to be in fine lugubrious voice and utterly charms the audience, it's a great shame he is no longer with us but this film serves as both a wonderfully entertaining portrait and a worthy memorial.

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Alice CooperAlice Cooper
Live At Montreux 2005
(Eagle Vision)

That ragged growl is reassuringly intact, if occasionally a little short of breath, but let’s cut him some slack here, the show is over an hour and a half long and he doesn’t stop even though he’s surrounded by people a good deal younger than himself nowadays. Fans of old will be happy to know it’s all here, costume changes, dancers, dismemberment, crutches, guillotines, coffins, swordplay and more. You could of course argue that in these days of Marilyn Manson much of this stage show looks a little tame but it is equally true to say that without Alice losing his head, dismembering babies and slashing all and sundry with his rapier none of the above would even exist. So yeah, on occasion this does smack of ghoulish pantomime, but it’s great fun and with a soundtrack that includes ‘Schools Out’, ‘No More Mister Nice Guy’, ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, ‘Eighteen’, and ‘Under My Wheels’ it’s the best sound-tracked pantomime you’re ever likely to see (an amusing coda to the main skimpily attired dancer being it is actually Coopers Daughter Calico to whom he growls ‘put something on’ during introductions). Comes with the added bonus of a live CD of the show.

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CreamCream
The Making Of Disraeli Gears
(Eagle Vision)

Another in the excellent Classic Albums series looking at the album which turned Cream from UK blues purveyors to psychedelic rockers. If you caught this on the TV you will already know all the main players are involved - a fit looking Eric Clapton a haggard looking Jack Bruce and a beyond haggard Ginger Baker (ciggie permanently glues to hand or lips) – including important input from Atlantic Records boss Ahmet Ertegun, lyricists Pete Brown and Martin Sharp (who also designed the cover) and more. Sadly as producer Felix Pappalardi and engineer Tom Dowd are no longer around there’s none of the usual Classic Albums mixing-desk deconstruction but Clapton (and to a lesser extent Bruce and Baker) helpfully break down tracks, happily acknowledging influences by bands like the Byrds and Loving Spoonful along the way. Bonus material includes over thirty minutes of new footage brand new interviews, acoustic performances of ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ and ‘Outside Woman Blues’ by Eric Clapton, ‘We’re Going Wrong’ by Jack Bruce and previously unreleased full band performances of ‘Tales Of Brave Ulysses’ (recorded in ‘68) and ‘We’re Going Wrong’ (recorded in ‘67) .

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****************************************************************** Elvis CostelloElvis Costello
The Right Spectacle
(Demon Vision)

The most remarkable thing about this collection of twenty-seven videos from early romps like Pump It Up, Radio Radio and (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea onwards is the consistent quality of song-writing on offer, Costello fans will of course already be aware of this but for the casual listener tracks like New Amsterdam, Every Day I Write The Book, Veronica and the hugely underrated I Wanna Be Loved are just a few of the positive smorgasbord of choice cuts on offer. Extra bait for the faithful, who may already own the VHS video collection, includes four videos which were never released as singles, and therefore seldom, if ever, seen and the man himself chatting about each and every video. Generally commentaries on these things are at best superfluous at worst plain rubbish but in this case the self deprecating voice over is almost as entertaining as the tracks themselves, add another dozen and a half live tracks from shows like Revolver, So It Goes and The Tube and booklet with further EC musings on the live offerings and you get a pretty definitive guide to the first fifteen years of what has since become an incredibly varied and impressive career

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Johnny CashJohnny Cash
Live At Montreux 1994
(Eagle Vision)

Another live set dug from the vaults of the Montreux Jazz Festival – although it’s probably best not to look for any of the man in black’s album releases in the jazz section of any sane record shop. Recorded in 1994, just after the first of his revelatory recordings with Rick Rubin on American Recordings, Cash cherry picks highlights from his new album (Delia’s Gone, Tennessee Stud, Bird On A Wire, Let The Train Blow The Whistle, Beast In Me and Redemption all follow in quick succession) alongside a string of classics like Folsom Prison Blues, Ring Of Fire, I Walk The Line and San Quentin. Given that he was already less than in full health (and by this time in his sixties) the performance is remarkably assured, that deep rolling rumble of a voice completely intact, indeed, as it later transpired, this was to be just the beginning of an astonishingly creative decade (including several more brilliant albums with Rubin), his muse becoming increasingly more vibrant and alive as his body sadly crumbled and failed him. But all of that was yet to come and this is a fine document of Cash moving into his seventh decade with all guns blazing.

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Nick CaveNick Cave & The Bad Seeds
The Videos (Mute Film)

If, like me, you had mistakenly assumed Nick Cave was simply a skinny-assed, gloomy, goth bastard with an overpowering death, hell and damnation fixation, an affinity for whacking journo’s and for seriously overindulging in life threatening banned substances, then you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by this. Not only does Cave prove to have a very dry sense of self-deprecating humour, he’s also not averse to completely derailing his own projects – in this case seriously lamping almost his entire video output in the interview sections which precede each new clip. And in truth the majority of the videos here don’t really do justice to songs as powerful and disturbing as ‘The Mercy Seat’ or ‘Stagger Lee’. In fact it’s generally on the less produced efforts (Cave and PJ Harvey’s star crossed lover schtick on ‘Henry Lee’ or Cave and Shane McGowan’s droll take on ‘Wonderful World’). However it’s not all clips of various Bad Seeds reinventing ways to say ‘this next video is not much cop’, the Kylie featuring ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ is fab as is Cave and Blixa Bargeld’s daft two-men-in-a-boat take on ‘The Weeping Song’. Cave is still a skinny-assed, gloomy, goth bastard though.

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Elvis CostelloElvis Costello & The Imposters
Live In Memphis
(Eagle Vision)

Fast approaching his thirtieth year as a performer (doesn’t seem feasible does it?), Elvis Costello, unlike the vast majority of his peers, still genuinely sounds like a man deeply in love with music, and for a very lucky few - queuing for many long hours in the baking sun to try and bag tickets for this 250 capacity performance - this show allowed them to get up close and personal with a performer still in seriously fine form. Whether morphing Alison into an impassioned romp through his namesakes Suspicious Minds, hammering out old standards like Pump It Up, High Fidelity or Peace, Love And Understanding, glowering magnificently through lesser known but equally fine EC moments like Blue Chair or sharing the mike with Emmylou Harris for some sing-a-long-a-country there really is no one else from the class of '77 playing with such passion and intelligence. Add a genuinely fascinating road trip with EC and drummer Pete Thomas taking a musical tour around the history steeped backwaters of Mississippi and you have a DVD that does proper justice to the format and artist alike.

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Features Archive

features Interviews with Supergrass, Ryan Adams, Mark Josephs and our features archive.

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Live listings

live listings What's on and where Check the listings for all the latest news on where to go and why

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Album reviews

Our monthly roundup of all the latest album releases good, bad or ugly, we listen and then rate 'em

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews All the latest music related tomes, top shelf or under the counter, we read ‘em and then pass on the good (or bad) word

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Class act

A full page monthly retrospective look at the most Influential acts from the last fifty years

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