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The Story Of Rock n Roll ComicsThe Story Of Rock n Roll Comics
(Wienerworld)

By the end of this, hugely enjoyable, film this viewer at least was pretty sure he would not have liked Todd Loren, and whether you accept the premise, offered by some associates, that he was a vigorous advocate of, and fighter for, ‘First Amendment’ rights or just a shameless self publicist out to make a few bucks (often at the expense of his writers and artists), what you’re left with is an overwhelming feeling that Todd Loren was somewhat of a smug, annoying bastard. That said most of the people he went out of his way to annoy were not exactly loveable – in fact the initial avalanche of lawyers, record company ‘bean counters’ merchandise hungry management and the ever idiotic Axl Rose, who all attempt to prise their ounce of flesh from Loren’s Revolutionary Comics – which, in short, published unauthorised biographies of rock and roll stars in comic book form – actually have you rooting for this irritating bugger. However a landmark ruling in the California Supreme Court finally puts paid to most of his legal problems then in 1992 Loren is found dead in his condo leaving speculation that he might have been the first victim of serial killer Andrew Cunanan, murderer of fashion designer Gianni Versace.
The Oracle

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RubberRubber
(Optimum Home Entertainment)

There’s always a problem with film reviews, how much do you give away whilst trying to explain in enough detail what might (or might not), entice a prospective viewer to watch it. Well first up is it any good, simple enough question, and yes, yes it is. So what’s it about? Well narrative isn’t a major factor here (nor indeed is budget) as, without giving too much away, it’s about a particularly vicious car tyre (yes, that’s right, a car tyre). We also get a sub-plot dealing with people who are watching the action as it takes place, oh and everything takes place at Paris Texas pace (i.e. slowly). It is also a bit gruesome and very funny. And that really is pretty much all you need to know. So if this sounds like something you might like, we’re saying you probably will and if it makes you think ‘what the hell is he on about’ you almost certainly won’t. Written and directed by the French bloke behind squelchy techno puppet Flat Eric (Mr Oizo, alias Quentin Dupieux) and featuring a cast of unknowns Rubber joins that great list of peculiar low budget films like Repo Man, Napoleon Dynamite and Eraserhead.
Josh Marks

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R.E.M. R.E.M.
R.E.M. Live From Austin, TX
(New West)

So, what are we to make of this rather cut down set filmed as part of the Accelerate promotion campaign. Boasting none of the theatrics of the live show that accompanied the tour this finds the band pretty much stripped of everything but the music. Of course anyone au fait with the Live From Austin TX series will know exactly what to expect but if you are looking for the bells and whistles of the bands (rather numerous), other live DVD’s this probably isn’t the DVD for you. However R.E.M.’s songs are easily strong enough to stand such bare scrutiny - especially given the new found vim and vigour they harnessed for Accelerate - the majority of which come from the album they were promoting (although they do toss the crowd a few classics like 'Losing My Religion', 'Man On The Moon' and 'Drive'). Things occasionally plod, but in truth this is more due to between song dead air than any lack of passion in the playing, perhaps the guys are no longer as comfortable being so up close and personal, but this is a small niggle about what is in fact a very good show.
Josh Marks

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The Rolling StonesThe Rolling Stones
Ladies & Gentlemen… The Rolling Stones
(Eagle Vision)

So, the question we first need to address here is do we really need another Rolling Stones live DVD. ‘cos let’s be honest there are loads of the buggers out there. If Stones fans have a shortage of anything it’s not live DVD’s and albums of varying quality, so why part with your hard earned for this one? Well firstly because this is the Rolling Stones in very good form indeed, filmed in Texas in 1972 over four nights of the Exile On Main Street US tour when the line-up still included Mick Taylor - who, whilst not the most showy of stage performers, lent the band a level of musical virtuosity his replacement, the more workmanlike Ron 'Woody' Wood, never managed to match. The shows also find Jagger in sparkling, high octane mode and even Keith Richards is on his game (both instrumentally and vocally), and if tracks like ‘Tumbling Dice’ and ‘You Can’t always Get What You Want’ are crying out for backing vocalists (although both still boast a wonderful shambolic charm), the live runs through tracks like 'Dead Flowers', 'Gimme Shelter' and 'Sweet Virginia' are genuinely superb. If you only ever own one Rolling Stones live show this should be it.
Ray Harper

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Roxy MusicRoxy Music
On The Road Live
(Wienerworld)

Although not always the case it’s often true that Roxy Music (and Genesis for that matter) fans generally fall into ‘they were good before/after’ camps, and in the case of Roxy it’s often assumed the ‘before/after’ divide was when Eno left, which is not actually the case as both Stranded and Country Life have more than their fair share of the angular art rock nuggets for which the band was, rightly, held in high esteem, and it wouldn’t be until they split, reformed and then released Manifesto in 1978 that a very different Roxy would appear. It is this Roxy Music we find here at a 1979 concert in Manchester, no longer sporting the wonderful and outlandish glam campery of their early Top Of The Pops appearances, but suited and booted and quite the sophisticated chaps (you’re a fan of the earlier stuff I’m guessing here Ray? – Ed). Even so a mainstream Roxy Music are quite likely going to be worth the price of admission, especially when they have back catalogue moments like ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’, ‘Editions Of You’ and ‘Virginia Plain’ to call on (which they do) so something for both camps here methinks.
Ray Harper

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RushRush
Beyond The Lighted Stage
(UMC)

If Dave Grohl is officially the nicest man in rock then Rush must certainly be in the running for the nicest band, and we’re not talking ‘nice’ in that damning with faint praise way people are prone to use when they actually have nothing really nice to say, but the proper friendly, self deprecating kind of nice, just genuinely down-to-earth blokes (and I’m certainly struggling to think of a band who have been together for this length of time that would manage such an obviously enjoyably squiffy evening talking engaging nonsense over dinner - see the bonus disc for this little gem). If you hate proggy style rock this probably won’t make you want to rush (ha!) out and buy their albums, but I defy anyone to see this and not say ‘good luck to ‘em’. If however you do like your rock a little on the bombastic side then this is definitely for you, from the early days with, now sadly deceased, drummer John Rutsey, to the huge success of 2112 which more or less guaranteed them independence, the tragic loss of Neil Peart’as daughter and wife that almost spelled the end of the band and beyond, this is yet another fine addition to the premier league of rock-docs.
Josh Marks

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The Rolling StonesThe Rolling Stones
Stones In Exile
(Eagle Rock)

Fans of the sort of documentaries where the record producer hovers over the mixing desk, fading tracks and dropping out instruments (the ‘Classic Rock Album’ series a being prime example), are likely to find this, frequently fascinating, documentary on the Rolling Stones circa 1971-1972, a bit frustrating. How certain tracks fell together are certainly alluded to (Jagger getting the ‘Tumbling Dice’ lyrics from a maid who liked gambling etc.), but if you’re after fine-tooth-comb detective work you won’t find it here. What you will find however are all the main players recollections of mismanagement, ninety three pence in the pound tax issues, exile in the South of France, trying to record in Keith Richards hot, damp basement at Villa Nellcôte in Villefranche-sur-Mer whilst surrounded by too many drugs and too many hangers on (so much so that one night someone walked in picked up six guitars and a sax and promptly strolled back out with them). The resultant album, Exile on Main Street, was largely derided at the time for being an unfocused mix of rock, blues, gospel and country-&-western, but has since become one of the bands most popular efforts, and this archive footage packed DVD is a fine additional document.
Ray Harper

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Roxy MusicRoxy Music
More Than This: The Story Of Roxy Music
(Eagle Vision)

Charting the hugely influential career of one of the UK’s most original outfits from their beginnings in the early seventies right up to studio footage of work on their ninth album (with Eno back on-board, for a few hours at least), it’s impossible to understate the importance of their early, genuinely peculiar, brand of art-rock, the first three albums in particular, on what was to follow. This is basically an extended version of the documentary shown on BBC 4 last year with contributions from all of the main players – many of the revolving cast of support players - and high profile fans such as Bono, John Taylor, Martin Ware, Steve Jones and Siouxsie Sue, this release fleshing out the original by including plenty of extra interview footage and three tracks from a live performance in 2006 (‘Both Ends Burning’, ‘Editions Of You’ and ‘Do The Strand’). In truth you do find yourself occasionally wishing the researchers had dug that little bit deeper and, as is often the case with documentaries, the musical snippets leave you feeling desperate for the whole performance, but on the whole this does a good job of documenting the many and varied versions of Roxy Music.
Ray Harper

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Lou ReedLou Reed
Berlin
(Artificial Eye)

A very welcome addition to the live experience, wherein an artiste performs a complete work from beginning to end and in true grumpy old bugger style Lou Reed has chosen one of his least loved works to revisit - although this needs to be put into context as it did follow the hugely successful Transformer, some critics loved it and it was actually a reasonable success in the UK). Ostensibly the story of Caroline who has a violent, drug fuelled relationship with her lover, or possibly pimp, who then abandons her ensuring that she goes on to lose her children and ultimately kill herself, so not a barrel of laughs then. Recorded over five nights in December 2006 at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York with some 35 musicians backing him including Sharon Jones (of Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings), Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons), and documented by filmmaker Julian Schnabel (Butterfly and the Diving Bell) the material benefits immeasurably from the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ production and if you loved the album you’ll love this, if however you’re a Reed fan who wasn’t sold the first time around try it again, you may well be surprised.

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****************************************************************** Frank ZappaThe Ramones
It’s Alive 1974-1996
(Warners)

It may seem a bit ludicrous for a band who regularly played 30 minute sets to have a live DVD boasting over 100 tracks released in their name (most of ‘em being dead now of course, the redoubtable Tommy aside), but you no more have to watch this in one sitting than you have to play every Ramones album back to back, Of course some of the more hardcore fans will do just that, and will thoroughly enjoy the results, but for the rest of us judicious dipping is called for, and with so much material on offer you’ll be happily dipping for ages. Everything you would want to see (and some things you probably wouldn’t) is here including Fan favourites like the New Years Eve show at the Rainbow in London, plus footage from CBGB’s, Max’s Kansas City, some Bob Harris worrying cuts from The Old Grey Whistle Test and loads, and loads more. Add a bunch of interviews, some videos and a gallery of fan photos and you have a pretty exhaustive collection which, if you also pick up the excellent End Of The Century documentary, offers just about all the Ramones you will ever need.

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Rolling StonesRolling Stones
The Biggest Bang
(Universal)

Ah come on, if you’re not a fan you’re not going to stump up for a four DVD set featuring seven hours of content are you? Including two full length concerts, abbreviated sets from numerous other shows, two behind-the-scenes documentaries and plenty of other bits, bobs and gubbins - all lifted from the best selling concert tour of all time - and boasting killer filled set-lists which only a band as long running as the Stones could possibly hope to lay claim to (in excess of fifty songs in fact). For this viewer however the interviews with roadies, decorators, engineers, carpenters, security guards and the 'partially dressed female fan' obsessed Brazilian construction crew workers (the whole travelling city that makes up a Rolling Stones tour in fact), provided the most entertaining interludes. Factor in duets with Dave Matthews, Bonnie Raitt and Eddie Vedder, unreleased songs, a live trot through the best ever Rolling Stones song ‘Sway’ (oh yes it is! I’ll brook no argument on this) and what you have is an unapologetically over the top package that only the Stones could hope to get away with, and get away with it they do in fine old style.

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Roxy MusicRoxy Music
Roxy Music
(Wienerworld)

Recorded for the German Musikladen television show (which has the most remarkable vault of ‘70s live performances) on several occasions in 74 and 75, this is absolute manna from heaven for fans of the early Roxy Music line-up - and yes Eno, looking like some glamorous alien, is still with the band for the first five tracks recorded in ’74 in front of a live audience. The band is in fiery form, Ferry in particular incredibly animated, darting all over the stage, can there have been a more fantastically out there opening salvo than ‘Virginia Plain’, ‘Do The Strand’, ‘Editions Of You’ and ‘In Every Dream Home’ at that time? By ’75, and the two second half sets, Eno had buggered off and been replaced by Eddie Jobson but they were still an impossibly wonderful and wired proposition, blasting out such wonky anthems as ‘Pyjamarama’, ‘Street Life’ and the magnificent ‘Mother Of Pearl’. It’s often the case that these early ‘70s television performances suffered from feigned enthusiasm of duff recording but this suffers from neither. There’s nothing in the extras dept. aside from a couple of mimed videos dug from the vaults but this matters not a jot as the first five tracks alone more than warrant your investment.

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The Rolling StonesRolling Stones
The Stones In The Park
(Sony)

The free Hyde Park concert filmed in 1969, a scant two days after Brian Jones' death, and just one month after he was pushed from the rumbling behemoth that was soon to become the biggest rock band in the world. The Rolling Stones had been planning the concert to unveil Mick Taylor as Jones replacement for some time but the death of the bands founding member ensured the event was lent extra piquancy. Originally a television recording for Granada – complete with standard RP ‘condescending paternal’ voice over – the broadcast was almost as popular as the show itself which was attended by over 200,000 souls (the legendary butterfly genocide incident joining any number of other Stones legends. Mars Bar anyone?). In truth the show is a shambles (and somebody, we’re plumping for Keef, is hideously out of tune), the sound system is woefully underpowered, the band under-rehearsed and the finale, a percussion assisted ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, outstays it’s welcome by several million years. That said this is still an important historical document, for Stones fans and rock historians alike, and it now comes complete with extra (albeit incomplete), tracks and interview material including the famous World In Action interview with Jagger just after his sentence for the possession of drugs was quashed on appeal.

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RainbowRainbow
Live In Munich 1977
(Eagle Vision)

Although interview material here (none of the main players unfortunately) does it’s best to paint Richie Blackmore as a driven, professional the reality for the vast majority of those that have ever met the man are that he is a deeply unpleasant, self obsessed prima donna who sacked people on a whim and ultimately proved impossible to work with. His skills as a guitarist however, whilst over-estimated on occasion, are still prodigious, and there’s little doubting this line-up of Rainbow were a thunderous proposition – even if, to these reviewers ears at least, Ronnie James Dio’s cod-operatic vocals sound roughly akin to slamming a cat repeatedly in an un-oiled door. Recorded only a few days after Blackmore had been arrested and imprisoned for kicking someone in the head (either to save a 12 year old girl from attack or for some minor slight, depending on who’s story you believe) driving straight to the show from jail and prompting an electric performance. Extras include an interview with bass player Bob Daisley, videos for ‘Long Live Rock And Roll’, ‘Gates Of Babylon’ and ‘L.A.Connection’ slide show, photo gallery, audio commentary and a reproduction of the Rainbow European Tour Programme.

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****************************************************************** RushRush
Replay
(Universal)

Been a positive avalanche of Rush live DVD’s of late (the live birthday package R30, the re-released Rush In Rio show), and now we have this four disc, three concert box set collecting together ‘81s Exit Stage Left, ‘85s Grace Under Pressure and ‘91s A Show Of Hands, plus the all new audio soundtrack to Grace Under Pressure, the whole shebang mixed in DTS and 5.1. Rush’s usual attention to detail ensures the set also includes three natty little reproduction tour booklets, and of course a smattering of previously unreleased live numbers to keep fans who already have the videos happy/interested. What show you prefer will almost certainly be down to which you attended (or indeed missed), this is after all not really aimed at the casual listener – R30 would be the best point of entry for Rush virgins - as, these being live shows, plenty of crowd favourites make multiple appearances, but for the real Rush-ophiliac there’s over three and a half hours of footage to drool over (and an hour for the iPod), and as we have noted before (see Neil Peart interview here), Rush’s chapter in the history of music as prog-pariahs is ripe for re-investigation.

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RushRush
Rush In Rio
(Sanctuary Midline)

Coming hot on the heels of the bands own 30 year retrospective R30 (see recent interview with Neil Peart here) comes this Rio show re-issue played for a massive, and massively enthusiastic, crowd of 40,000 South American up-for-it nutters. At one point Geddy Lee tells the crowd they will be playing ‘about a thousand songs’ and, whilst this is a minor exaggeration, they do manage an exhaustive full-bore twenty nine song set. The occasionally low level of the lead vocal in the mix is a minor flaw but otherwise this is an impressive, package (everything else, including the constant crowd noise, is well balanced), and the bands convoluted, almost telepathic ‘power-trio’ dynamic is in full effect, Neil Peart in particular appearing to have far too few limbs for the thunderous noise he is making. A second disc features a documentary following Geddy, Alex and Neil around Brazil, some multi angle doo-hickeys for ‘YYZ’, ‘O Baterista’ and ‘La Villa Strangiato’ and for those of you keen on exploring there's a few Easter Eggs – The 'By-Tor' movie and 'Anthem 1975'. Unusually for a DVD release (especially a mid-price release), this also has a pretty good full colour booklet which rounds out real VFM release.

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Todd RundgrenTodd Rundgren
Liars Live
(Sanctuary)

There is a hideous record company term, ‘legacy acts’, doing the rounds nowadays, a label young go-getters use as a catch all term for ‘old acts’ - and sadly too often this also means they are going to repackage some defunct old shite which would be best left in the vaults. Of course that label also covers very active performers like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Lou Reed and the ‘dismiss him at your peril’ talent that is Todd Rundgren. Like the aforementioned acts Rundgren has had his fallow years but 2004 saw a major return to form with the album Liars and superb subsequent tour, the results of which can be found on this DVD. Those of us lucky enough to have caught this resurrected Rundgren performance could often be found boring people bandy about it for days afterwards – although the uninitiated might find his bizarre choice of Herman Munster boots disconcerting, but long time Rundgren-ophiles know all about his habitual habiliment horrors. Drawing mostly from the album of the same name the show is split roughly down the middle into rock racket and soul review sections and, a few odd glaring lighting problems aside, successfully captures the man (and band) in consistently excellent form.

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Lou ReedLou Reed
Live At Montreux 2000
(Eagle Vision)

It’s almost certainly time that the Montreux Jazz Festival dropped the ‘jazz’ part of their moniker as whilst there is undoubtedly a lot of jazz and blues on show it’s just as likely nowadays to include patently un-jazzy types like Suzanne Vega or, as in this case, curmudgeonly rock legend Lou Reed, however this is a minor gripe when it allows for natty little sets like this one, which might otherwise have just been committed to audience memory, to find a place in our DVD libraries. Much of the set is drawn from his Ecstasy album – the only other album getting more than a one track look in being New York – with Reed backed by Mike Rathke, Fernando Saunders and Tony ‘Thunder’ Smith and can best be described, on the whole, as full metal racket Reed. The man himself is taciturnly mute for much of the set (aside from band intros), but is obviously enjoying himself and, aside from a breakneck deconstruction of Romeo And Juliette (which steamrolls right over the lyrics), this metallic attack on his material works pretty well, his one concession to fans in search of hits a final funeral march through Perfect Day.

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The ResidentsThe Residents
The Commercial DVD
(Mute)

Released to coincide with the 25th anniversary re-release of the bands 40 one minute track The Commercial Album, The Commercial DVD includes the four original films made to accompany the 1980 release - films that are now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York – and a further 52 videos created by both the band themselves and 42 visual artists from around the world. As you might expect there are numerous big eyeball related shenanigans and several frankly bloody scary moments. Of course in these days of Chris Cunningham directed Aphex Twin shockers many of these 60 second vignettes fail to shock/disturb/head bugger the listener as much as they would have say ten years ago, but when the visual ideas match up successfully with the bands mentalist squonking (like on Andrew Koehler’s bonkers take on Medicine Man, Doug Carney’s bald lunatic dancing to Amber or indeed Geert Vandenbroele’s wonderfully deranged animation for LaLa) the end results are mini joys to behold. Add a typical Resident-esque non-linear maze interface that has you chasing your tail and you have both an hours synapse frazzling eye candy and a perfect introduction to the worlds most anonymous band

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RockersRockers
25th Anniversary Edition
(Wienerworld)

Less feted than Jimmy Cliff’s rude-boy vehicle The Harder They Come and boasting, believe it or not, even less in the way of a tangible storyline – Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace plays drums, buys a motorbike, unsavoury well-heeled types nick said bike, Leroy nicks it back and gets a wallop for his pains leading to Leroy and pals liberating well-heeled types goods and distributing them around the neighbourhood. All of which matters not one jot as Rockers not only ably captures the hideously difficult circumstances from which many of the films stars initially rose (although it should be noted that if the blokes are poor the women are a damn site poorer, and treated with alarming disdain), and also includes a cast list that defies belief – like Gregory Issacs as a locksmith or Robbie Shakespeare as the local mechanic. Peppered with incredible music (one particularly fine moment is when Burning Spear’s Winston Rodney pops up for a quick spliff and acappella sing-song on the local beach) and now boasting a directors commentary from Theodorus Bafaloukos, trailers, videos, patois glossary (and believe me, if you don’t hail from Jamaica you’re gonna need it), 16 page booklet and all in glorious 5.1, this is definitely one film no self respecting reggae fan should be without

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Todd RundgrenTodd Rundgren
Live In Japan
(BMG/Image)

Having seen his one man interactive show some ten years ago in London (and ‘one man interactive’ means just that, performed from a small circular stage on the auditorium floor, from where Rundgren invited audience members onstage to play, dance and generally get involved) it’s interesting to see a totally different incarnation of the Rundgren live experience. Released as part of a 3 DVD box-set alongside The Desktop Collection and Live In San Francisco or separately as three single DVD’s – obsessive fans only should track down the Live In San Francisco show as the sound is a bit on the sludgey side and aside from a light hearted ukulele whiz through fan fave ‘Bang The Drum’, this is essentially uncle Todd in power trio mode and in truth not exactly essential. Better by far is this full on Nearly Human Philly soul review Live In Japan show, complete with daft matador costume – the band replete in some of the ugliest ‘soul review style’ matching outfits and bad hair days the world has likely ever seen. The production values and sound quality are however infinitely better here, and although and the band look hideous they are clearly well rehearsed and seriously on-the-ball. In fact Rundgren barely touches an instrument throughout the entire show and it’s here you should start if you’re a Todd virgin. Just don’t imagine that’s all he does.

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