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Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen RocketeersBill Nelson and the Gentlemen Rocketeers
Live In Concert At Metropolis Studios, London [2CD+DVD] (Salvo)

Part of a series of Sound & Vision packages from the ever reliable Salvo – also including sets by Van Der Graaf Generator, Roy Harper, Caravan, Barclay James Harvest and more – wherein the artists in question are put in front of an intimate audience of real fans (and by intimate we mean real up close and personal, whites of their eyes stuff), prompting them to deliver some spectacular performances. This one, a 3 disc set By Bill Nelson and his Gentlemen Rocketeers, is particularly good touching as it does on most parts of his career from Be Bop Deluxe (‘Maid In Heaven’, ‘Ships In The Night’, ‘Panic In The World’) through Red Noise (‘Furniture Music’), solo new wave hits (‘Do You Dream In Colour’) and beyond to the more experimental solo material he is known for today, mostly found on a second CD of instrumental tracks, all of which are also found on the DVD, alongside a short but revealing interview. Fans who couldn’t attend will love this whilst being insanely jealous they weren’t there to pat the reclusive Mr N heartily on the back as he timidly makes his way to the stage.
Ray Harper

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New York DollsNew York Dolls
Lookin' Fine On Television
(Wienerworld)

It has to be said that very few bands legacy could be well served by just over an hour of unsteady, grainy black and white footage with a sound quality that can best be described as rough and ready but then the New York Dolls could never have been described as hi-fidelity even on record and, for most fans, it was all about the raucous, ramshackle-racket the band made onstage anyway, so this collection of rare live clips and interviews filmed in the 70s will be just what the doctor ordered. Ludicrously skinny and rocking that seedy glam-tart look the Dolls were a head spinning amalgam of the impossibly cool and the incredibly stupid – interviewing the band proves to be about as easy as eating soup with an angry cat - and lest we forget they were wandering around New York dressed in the sort of outfits that got you a major kicking in the early ‘70s plus there’s no doubt that tracks like ‘Jet Boy’ and ‘Personality Crisis’ were a major influences on the punk movement that would soon follow, so if this was a Genesis video we’d be saying steer clear, but the Dolls? Hey, grab some slap and join the party.
Ray Harper

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Nowhere BoyNowhere Boy
(Icon Home Entertainment)

Is there anything left to be said about John Lennon or the Beatles? Everything there is to know concerning the history of the scouse moptops has been picked over with a fine toothcomb until every last nit has been uncovered. Unless you were born in the last twenty years there is surely nothing more to be said? Well, no there isn’t, if you’re remotely interested in the Beatles this is all pretty old news, but since when did knowing the outcome have anything to do with how good or bad a film is? The Germans lost the war, Native Americans lost their homeland, Frodo beat Sauron and John Lennon came from an extremely broken home, was something of a git in his early years and became one of the most famous pop-stars of all time, and if you have a spare hour and half odd this is a well researched look at the tug of war between the two women in Lennon’s early life, his wayward mother Julia and his staid but reliable Aunt Mimi which is both understated and yet moving, and if it adds nothing new to the legend it tells the story well and with feeling.
Josh Marks

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New York DollsNew York Dolls
All Dolled Up
(Wienerworld)

Politely referred to in the mainstream press of the time as a cross between the Rolling Stones and Alice Cooper – an early report, which shows film of the Doll’s haphazardly careering through ‘Personality Crisis’ describes them thus... ‘the music is rough, unpolished and the lyrics are shouted, never sung, the songs belligerent, hostile and definitely loud – this is a new generation and a new music’ (the shows anchor man, clearly not at all keen, asks what could possibly be more ‘crazy’ than the Dolls and is told of an act called Iggy Pop, who cut’s himself onstage). This entertaining documentary - filmed by Bob Gruen and his wife Nadya over a period of three years - includes some magnificently frazzled interviews, some even more magnificently frazzled performances and beautifully documents the bands transformation from skinny, scruffy street punks to the sluttilly attired, primped, back-combed outfit who provided such a major influence for punk (and such a revolting development for middle America, just watch out for the disgusted looks the band draw in the airport scene). It’s monochrome, grainy, hard to follow on occasions, the epitome of ‘hand-held-movie-making’ but it perfectly captures the Doll’s seedy glamour up until their self-destruction in 1975.

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Willie NelsonWillie Nelson
Outlaws And Angels
(Eagle Vision)

The positive avalanche of Willie Nelson releases, re-releases and live action of late has left the market so overloaded with produce it’s hard to pick the wheat form the chaff. Given that you’re just as likely to find a 'best of' or ‘ultimate collection’ for Ł2.99 in your local ‘cheapo’ book’n’cd outlet it’s hard to imagine who the hell is now buying Nelsons back catalogue anymore, which is all the more galling when something this worth checking out turns up. Needless to say the stellar line up of guests here help things no end – Keith Richards, Al Green and Jerry Lee Lewis amongst many – but famous friends are only any use if they actually add something to the proceedings, and it’s pretty damn clear that more or less everyone here is having a fine old time (Bob Dylan’s usual excruciatingly ramshackle approach to guest spots aside), and no other country star could hope to call on such a genre-mashing variety of musical hero’s. Occasionally get a bit baggy (as a conveyor belt of guest spots is always going to be), and there’s way too many big daft hats, but overall if you only buy one Willie Nelson item this year this should be it.

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New York DollsNew York Dolls
Morrissey Presents - The Return of the New York Dolls - Live From Royal Festival Hall, 2004
(Sanctuary Visual Entertainment)

Morrissey’s obsession with the New York Dolls is well documented - a former president of the U.K New York Dolls fan club he recently admitted "I've magnified the importance of The New York Dolls since I was a small, fat, dull child. The songs were great and still are, and David Johansen looks and sounds better than ever" – but many fans of the grand-daddy’s of punk rock must have experienced at least a momentary twinge of reticence when it was announced they would be reforming to play the Morrissey curated 2004 Meltdown Festival, especially given that two of their number were already well past the stage of reforming (guitarist Johnny Thunders and drummer Jerry Nolan having both already passed away). However the end result proved not only to be a wonderful trot down memory lane but also created a perfect, poignant memorial for bass player Arthur ‘Killer’ Kane who joined Thunders and Nolan soon after the performance. Sylvain Sylvain still exudes rock star cool (even if he does look like Iggy Pop’s dad), and remains the centre of attention for the whole show, despite David Johansen’s best efforts. Shambolic, under-rehearsed and louche, anything less would have been unthinkable.

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Gary NumanGary Numan
Hope Bleeds
(ILC)

Filmed at the Manchester Academy in 2003 the day after his daughter Raven was born Hope Bleeds finds Numan in boisterous form, his metamorphosis from the static glacial digital android pupae of old now fully revealed in all it’s whirling gothic glory, spreading his wings amidst the thunderously driven electronic industrial metal racket he now calls home. Hell, Gary Numan finally looks like he’s having fun, and given the steady stream of people that now regularly bashfully hold up their hands and admit to his being an enormous influence, it’s about time he finally got to enjoy his career. As an added bonus, and unlike the usual ‘talking head’ additions tacked on to the end of DVD’s nowadays, the accompanying interview is at times genuinely revealing, showing Numan to be a painfully honest man who is willing to talk with disarming honesty about his lean years and his often crippling lack of confidence in his own work. Several times over the last few years a Gary Numan revival has teetered on the brink, maybe now, finally, the full blown reassessment can get under way and he can take his place as a true innovator who continues to evolve, explore and excite.

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