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Elliott SmithElliott Smith
Heaven Adores You (Eagle Rock)

Like his rather more high profile contemporary Kurt Cobain Steven 'Elliott' Smith was not a happy bunny and like Cobain Smith chose to end his life in a violent and unpleasant way (needless to say some people insist he was murdered) after drug use, alcoholism and depression began derailing his very promising career. So not a new story certainly but whilst Smith was less feted than Cobain he was nonetheless a hugely talented songwriter (Elliott Smith (1995), Either/Or (1997) and XO (1998) certainly deserve a place in any worthwhile record collection) and deserving of a decent documentary which Heaven Adores You, in the main certainly is. Taking its lead from Smiths gently understated solo work this film (yet another Kickstarter campaign project) is definitely more of a genuflection than expose - unpleasant behaviour when drugged up and the coroner’s open verdict on his death due to self inflicted knife wounds are touched on but left pretty much alone. Undeniably beautiful to look at you do occasionally wish for the odd dissenting voice, or disgruntled ex to balance the equation a little (Smith was no angel) but this is a minor quibble as Heaven Adores You is a fitting tribute to a very talented but sadly doomed individual.
Ruby Palmer

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Bruce SpringsteenBruce Springsteen
Springsteen & I
(Eagle Rock)

As the title kinda suggests Springsteen & I is a documentary by Ridley Scott featuring mini films made by Springsteen’s, many, many, many devoted fans who reflect on their personal insights and experiences concerning ‘The Boss’, and if you’re worried that reams of star struck fans waffling on about their idol could be a little, erm, wearing don’t be as not only is the film liberally peppered with previously unseen archive footage of Springsteen lifted from right across his career the truth is that the vast majority of the waffling is actually a lot of fun. Of course this will only really appeal if Springsteen’s wood-chopping everyman style of uber-bombast floats your boat, but there’s absolutely no denying this is a man that works really hard at, and wholeheartedly believes in, what he's doing and it’s this passion and commitment that clearly inspires exactly the same in the fans found herein. Bonus Features include some additional fan contributions not included in the main film and six tracks from Bruce's Hyde Park 2012 show (including a huge great stomping version of ‘Because The Night’ with an incendiary Nil’s Lofgren guitar solo and two tracks featuring Paul McCartney).
Ray Harper

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Show Of HandsShow Of Hands
Live At Shrewsbury Folk Festival (Hands On Music)

Twenty one years into their, frankly woefully under-celebrated, partnership and singer songwriter Steve Knightley and multi instrumentalist Phil Beer offer up something of a twofer from the SOH self-production line which will delight Show Of Hands fans as not only do you get a beautifully filmed and recorded eight song set filmed at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival, featuring additional backing from The Urban Soul Orchestra and including favourites like 'The Blue Cockade', 'Exile', 'Santiago' (dedicated to their old Alianza band-mate the late Vladimir Vega), 'Innocents Song/Gwithian' (which get’s a real shot in the arm from the Orchestra) and a genuinely goosebump inducing run through 'The Dive'. If all this live largesse wasn’t enough however you also get a Cinéma vérité style ‘making of…’ documentary filmed during the creation of their recent, critically acclaimed, Wake The Union album offering insights and breakdowns of all of the tracks found thereon and featuring appearances by Seth Lakeman and Cormac O’Byrne plus a sequence filmed on the Channel Island of Sark with Andy Cutting and Martin Simpson. Just the thing in fact for snuggling up in front of the box on a cold winters eve.
Ray Harper

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Saint Etienne Saint Etienne
A London Trilogy: The Films of Saint Etienne 2003-2007 (BFI)

Popular beat combo Saint Etienne have been collaborating for over a decade now with filmmaker Paul Kelly (the man behind the terrific Lawrence of Belgravia the film about Felt/Denim nearly man Lawrence), creating three documentaries, or perhaps we should call them visual documents - the homage to London Finisterre, a pre-Olympic look at East London’s Lea Valley What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? And This is Tomorrow a look at the history, renovation and reopening of the Royal Festival Hall - plus a handful of shorts (some previously unavailable and all included here) including a paean to London’s disappearing cafes (Today’s Special), a brief but fascinating glimpse into Banksy’s artwork (much if it sadly already gone) and a day in the life of the mascot for North Hendon FC entitled Monty the Lamb, all delightfully laid back and wry drifts through a London which is fast disappearing and all soundtracked by Sarah Bob and Pete’s eclectic mix of ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s pop and soundtrack music. As always with these BFI releases everything is superbly annotated in the extensive accompanying booklet and with three hours plus of material on offer it’s also pretty good VFM.
Jenny Hoon

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From The Sea To The Land BeyondFrom The Sea To The Land Beyond (BFI)

So what would you do if you had access to a load of old film footage that the British Film Institute have spent years archiving? Well if you’re Penny Woolcock you’d spend further hours trawling through all the UK coastal related footage and build a story of the British love of, and working relationship with, the sea that surrounds us all and then turn the whole shebang over to British Sea Power and get them to create a soundtrack that, as there is no voice over, helps tie the film clips together whilst also lending it a forward momentum that replace the missing narrative thrust. Of course if you or I did this the results would doubtless have been as entertaining as most home movies are to those of us not directly involved in ‘em, but Penny Woolcock’s deft touch has created a thoughtful journey kicking off in 1900’s Blackpool with huge crowds of overdressed holiday makers and grimy dockside workers right up to Dockland stock market traders and, rather less sedate (i.e. pissed and underwear flashing), visitors to Blackpool 100 years later, all of which is genuinely delightful with BSP’s mixture of songs and instrumentals, interspersed with sea birds and snippets of speech, doing a fine job of stitching the whole thing together.
Jenny Hoon

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The SpecialsThe Specials
30th Anniversary Tour (Wienerworld)

The Specials always were a band that inspired a fanatical following, so when the news hit that they intended to reform for live shows it was no surprise to learn that the tour had sold out in no time at all. Having sold all the tickets it then fell to the six original members who participated - sadly Jerry Dammers couldn’t work out an amicable way to participate – to ensure that they justified the hysterical anticipation of their fans. Fortunately for all concerned they did just that with everyone on top form and incredibly sprightly (although special mention must go to Neville Staple who, for a man in his late 50’s, remains almost consistently airborne throughout). The thing that strikes you most about this show, even on DVD, is just how impossible it is to not bob up and down and grin like a loon, 24 tracks everyone a coconut. Simply put if you missed the shows then this is as close to the real, sweat-soaked, thing you are going to get, and the bands brand of dance fuelled social commentary is as relevant today as it was in the late ‘70s.
Ray Harper

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SlipknotSlipknot
Live At Download: (sic)nesses
(Eagle Vision)

Chances are you are only going to be remotely interested in this Blu-ray disc if you are a fan of Slipknot ‘cos let’s be honest here have you ever met anyone who thought they were ‘just ok?’ Nope this outfits fans are rabid buggers (just play set closer ‘Spit It Out’ and you’ll see what I mean), and if you’re one of the ‘Knot massive then this headline set from Download in 2009 is a must have item, not least because it’s actually really well filmed and recorded which, given the bands penchant for mayhem, and lest we forget there are hundreds of ‘em [really, hundreds? – Ed] , all given to wandering around smashing and throwing stuff (aside from the drummer who is strapped into a rising and revolving drum module), this film must have been one hell of a difficult job. Fans will also delight in the behind the scenes film Audible Visions Of: (sic)nesses, and the four music videos from the All Hope Is Gone album. Sadly bassist and founding member Paul Gray passed away the following year, and so this release was then dedicated to his memory, and as such it is a both a fitting tribute and a fine document of Gray’s talents.
Ruby Palmer

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Ringo StarrRingo Starr
Ringo & The Roundheads: Blu-ray
(UMC)

OK, first up this is not a long show, Ringo may be getting on a bit but when Macca takes to the stage brevity is never an issue (mind you he does have a little more in the way of material to work with), fourteen tracks flash by in under an hour and that’s yer lot. That said this writer had actually forgotten that Ringo has actually penned some pretty damn good songs including ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ and ‘Photograph’ (both with George Harrison) plus ‘Back Off Boogaloo’ and when added to Ringo sung Beatles classics like ‘Octopus’s Garden’, ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ you know you’re onto something of a winner. Unlike much of Ringo’s previous solo output the stage is not crammed with high profile buddies, indeed aside from Men At Works Colin Hay guesting on ‘Who Can It Be Now?’, there’s not a famous face to be seen, but this is no problem as Ringo is clearly the star(r) here and, his recent high profile churlish behaviour aside, this is exactly how he should be remembered, as the lucky Beatle who is actually a talented performer in his own right.
The Oracle

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Sigur RósSigur Rós
Inni
(Krunk/XL)

Not a reference to the preferred state of a bellybutton (or less desirous nipple position) Inni actually means ‘inside’, a reference to the extremely focussed, grainy close-up, nature of this follow up to the bands critically acclaimed, and far more widescreen, documentary/performance film Heima (more here), catching the band in their full post-rock majesty live at Alexandra Palace in London in November 2008. Dependent on which of the numerous versions you opt for the very least you will find is a 75-minute film and 105-minute double live album and, as always with Sigur Rós, a huge amount of attention has gone into the visuals, filmed on HD digital, transferred to 16mm film and then projected and re-filmed, again on 16mm, sometimes through glass and other objects, the black and white concert film linked by dislocated full colour interludes and, as with Heima, it’s a thing of genuine beauty, sound-tracked by some of the finest music to come out of anywhere, let alone Iceland, in the last fifteen years. If you already own Heima fear not, the closing ‘Popplagid’ is the only track both films have in common with songs taken from all five of their studio albums plus unreleased studio track ‘Luppalagid’.
Josh Marks

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Star Spangled RhythmStar Spangled Rhythm
(Optimum Home Entertainment)

OK, so the plot is thinner than a cheese string (and in places a damn site more cheesy) but lest we forget this was first released in 1942 as America was just settling into the long haul of WWII and is clearly a hastily compiled ‘cavalcade of stars’ type knockabout/musical by Paramount intended as part entertainment and part call to arms jingoism. The story, such as it is, revolves around Navy lad Jimmy (Eddie Bracken) and his dad Pop (Victor Moore--aka Bronco Billy) who is a guard at Paramount but has told his son that he is head of the studio, as you do, so when Jimmy gets shore leave with his buddies they naturally want to go to the studio ensuring larks aplenty are had and more big band and comedy numbers than you can wave a red, white and blue flag at as Jimmy’s girl Polly (Betty Hutton) attempts to help Pop keep the deception from her beau. Guest performers includes Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Veronica Lake, Dorothy Lamour, Dick Powell, Mary Martin, Alan Ladd, Fred MacMurray, William Bendix, Paulette Goddard, and people like director Cecil B. DeMille playing, erm, well Cecil B. DeMille.
Josh Marks

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****************************************************************** The Saw DoctorsThe Saw Doctors
Clare Island to Cape Cod
(Shamtown)

One of those terminally un-cool outfits (see also Hootie & The Blowfish and the Levellers), who exist despite very little music press coverage - and what there is liberally spiced with hefty doses of disdain - but who nonetheless inspire the sort of intense devotion amongst their fans that many a press darling would happily saw their own leg off to receive. Consequently fans will need no persuading to get this live concert/documentary by filmmaker Steven Lock, so we will address the uninitiated here… Basically to ‘get’ the Doctors you really do need to see them live which is exactly what Lock has tried to capture here - The band playing on a rotating stage in the middle of a 2000 capacity Tent with the audience banked up on all sides – interspersing the live action with interviews with Davy Carton, Leo Moran and the rest of the band who look back over their 20 year history (all the way back to 1988 when Mike Scott of The Waterboys discovered them playing in the back bar of The Quays Pub in Galway). The documentary also includes video footage of their number one hit ‘About You Now’ and pretty much properly nails what it is about the band that continually attracts droves of people to their shows.
Ray Harper

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Sounds Like Teen SpiritSounds Like Teen Spirit
(Warner Music Entertainment )

So, given that we’re a proper, grown up, serious music website (staffed by the sort of humourless buggers you really don’t want to sit next to in a pub if, say, S Club 7 are on the jukebox), what’s the likelihood that a film about children performing in a song contest will find favour - and not just any old song contest, no, the Satan-spawn of all song contests Eurovision, or in this case Junior Eurovision? We’d have said somewhere between not very much and bugger all, and we’d have been totally wrong because this is a magnificent film, filled with pathos, humour, tension and the totally infectious joy of performing and just being young. If you can watch this without biting your nails to the elbow during the voting section you are entirely without soul. Are any of the songs any good? Nope – in fact the best musical moments are supplied by the Who and Bryan Ferry – does this matter? It does not, and given that there are no success obsessed yanks or Brits in it a fourth place is as, rightly, celebrated as a first, in fact one truly horrendous Bonnie Langford clone aside these teens are charming, loveable and hugely watchable.
Josh Marks

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Klaus SchulzeKlaus Schulze
Rheingold
(SPV/Synthetic Symphony)

If he was only ever known as a founder member of both Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel Klaus Schulze would have secured his place in Krautrock history, but having helped start both bands he then went on to become a hugely prolific ambient/new age pioneer - although he flatly refuses to be aligned with such limiting genres - releasing an album in almost every year since his debut solo experimental drone album Irrlicht in 1972 (often releasing several in the same year). This double DVD release is taken from a live concert recorded in 2008 at the Loreley Amphitheatre in Germany where Shultze performed 'Alberich', 'Wotan', and 'Nothung', before bringing out ex-Dead Can Dance vocalist Lisa Gerrard for guest vocals on the tracks 'Loreley' and 'Wellgunde'. In truth there’s not much to see here (unless you get all hot and bothered watching someone sat sedately behind banks of electronics), but the second disc documentary is extremely watchable following Shulze and engineer Tom Dams as they work together at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios on the DVD’s 5.1 and stereo mix, and the interview, by Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson, is a nice addition.
Drew Bass

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Show Of HandsShow Of Hands
Tour Of Topsham March 2007
(Hands On Music)

We make no secret of our high regard for Show Of Hands here at TM-Towers, proper bolshy folk music, with grown up words and top notch musicianship, and this DVD right here is exactly why we love them, as rather than film and release the Royal Albert Hall show that this short tour of tiny venues in their home town of Topsham was a warm up for (although that show may possibly be released in the future) – and just for reference the cottage industry that is SOH have filled the RAH on several occasions – they instead chose to release this rickety, hand held selection of performances in front of local people (the shows were not advertised to the bands regular followers), many totally unaware of their existence. That this works so well, with absolutely no productions values whatsoever, is entirely down to Steve Knightley and Phil Beer’s easy going, travelling troubadour, approach and of course some truly outstanding songs. Whatever your preconceived notions of folk music are (and Knightly & Beer are just as likely to drop some Bob Marley in the set as Bob Dylan) a night spent with this little beauty will certainly challenge them, and will also re-introduce you to proper UK roots music.

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Soft MachineSoft Machine
Alive In Paris
(Voiceprint)

Recorded in Paris on the 2nd March 1970 this film, directed by Claude Ventura and presented by Patrice Blanc-Francard, was initially recorded for Pop 2 and, in keeping with the avant-garde nature of the band in question, is filmed in a rather unusual way, either from the side or the back of the stage, don’t let this put you off however as the sound is fine (if occasionally a little thin) and the visuals, whilst odd, are also perfectly good. Featuring, what some consider to be, the finest Soft Machine line-up – the band behind Third - with Robert Wyatt, High Hopper, Mike Ratledge, Elton Dean and Lyn Dobson and an audience so up for it attempts are made to dance like chickens on hot-plates to even the most arrhythmic and atonal passages. For some reason the track-listing on the sleeve bears no relation to the actual running order but everything listed appears (including SM faves ‘Out-Bloody-Rageous’, ‘Facelift’ and ‘Esthers Nosejob’), and given that there’s precious little decent footage of this line-up in existence – Wyatt would leave/be fired (delete as applicable) very soon after this and form Matching Mole - this really is manna from heaven for fans.

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Sigur RósSigur Rós
Heima (EMI)

If ever a bands music reflected their homeland it’s Sigur Rós, coming from a land with the most stark, uncompromising and glacially beautiful landscape imaginable. A land to which they returned triumphant after touring the world and, having decided to do a series of free gigs, set about touring Iceland in their own inimitably peculiar way. So local brass bands parp their way into songs and then wander offstage, local choirs and singers are invited to perform, children wander around recording sessions, and people stroll into a lush green natural amphitheatres, small wooden community centres and closed down fish factories to watch the band play. Needless to say, this being four of the most unlikely rock stars in the world (with equally grounded, un-rock star attitudes, Guns N' Roses this certainly ain’t), the film is both down-to-earth but also delightfully quirky, flitting between the astounding surroundings, the band and their audience (a wonderful mixture of fans, extended families and, as so few bands actually play these out of the way locations, the merely curious). Heima really is a beautiful document of a remarkable band in astonishing form and shows up most DVD releases for the shoddy ‘this’ll do’ efforts they really are, if you only buy one music DVD this year make it this one.

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SweetSweet
Glitz, Blitz & Hitz: The Very Best Of... (Wienerworld)

Featuring some fantastically off-the-wall footage (watch out for the beer-keller audience, complete with bemused waitresses, or the limbo/beach video), this documentary, with contributions from guitarist Andy Scott, songwriter Nicky Chinn and producer Phil Wainman, charts the bands career from early bubblegum fluff like ‘Co-Co’, ‘Poppa Joe’ and ‘Little Willy’ through their altogether tougher glam-rockers, sticking their toes in the water with ‘Wig Wam Bam’ and then jumping right in with ‘Blockbuster’, the mighty ‘Ballroom Blitz’, ‘Teenage Rampage’ and beyond (‘Fox On The Run’, ‘Action’, ‘Love Is Like Oxygen’). Sweet were never the most natural of glam-rockers (described by one pundit as looking like brickies in make-up) – although Andy Scott insists he was one of the first to use stack-heels and also, perhaps less realistically, that David Bowie copied his nail-varnish – the period was also not notable for the longevity of its acts (Bowie accepted), consequently after sacking the increasingly alcoholic singer Brian Connolly they simply became a decent, if underachieving, rock band (Connolly and Mick Tucker have sadly since died).

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SladeSlade
In Flame
(Union Square Pictures)

Damned by many at the time but lauded later, the question still remains is it actually any good? Well it’s no Citizen Kane (sorry Mojo) but given the budgetary limitations, the fact that the four main players aren’t actually actors and boasting a script which, whilst a brave stab at highlighting the seedier side of the UK’s music biz machinations during the late ‘60s early ‘70s, has all of the narrative thrust of a mudslide going uphill, then yes, alongside That’ll Be The Day this was a creditable attempt to make something other than a bog standard pop-star movie, and if it looks dated so does the Sweeny and people still consider that classic TV. The additional documentary feature is also well worth a watch with all the main players having their two’pennorth and proving to be just as you might imagine, Noddy is affable, Don likeably daft, Jim deadly serious and Dave, well a bit of a berk frankly, so no surprises there. This film did Slade no good whatsoever at the time, leaving most fans bemused, but taking the longer view it does stand as a worthwhile, if flawed, effort and in ‘Far Far Away’ and ‘How Does It Feel’ (also included here on the CD soundtrack) contains a couple of stone cold Slade classics.

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****************************************************************** StereophonicsStereophonics
Rewind
(Liberation)

Regardless of whether you feel Kelly and Co. are a dour, leaden trio fronted by a whingeing bore or the most exciting thing to issue forth from Cwmaman since war poet Alun Lewis – the office is split down the middle on this – Rewind is a huge walloping great monster of a double disc DVD featuring home-movies of their very first gigs, behind the scenes interviews, backstage footage, promo videos, on-tour diaries and multi-camera stadium performances all of which adds up to over 2½ hours of live performances from 1997 to 2006. So no complaints in the VFM stakes then. There is also a 32 page colour booklet featuring exclusive photos and memorabilia from Jones personal photo album, interviews with Ronnie Wood, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, Bono, Jimmy Page, Jools Holland, Roger Daltrey, the Black Crows and Tom Jones. Disc one contains a documentary, charting their early days as the Tragic Love Company (a name inspired by their favourite bands Tragically Hip, Mother Love Bone and Bad Company fact fans) up to the sacking of drummer Stuart Cable, disc two the live material, in short of you are a fan of the ‘Phonics you will definitely want this DVD.

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Santana/ShorterSantana & Shorter
Live At The 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival (Liberation Entertainment)

Initially nothing more than an in-joke between Carlos Santana and Wayne Shorter, the joke however soon took on a life of it’s own and became reality, and in 1988 the pair toured throughout the US and Europe to enormous critical acclaim. Santana fans of old will be delighted to see the likes of the mighty Armando Peraza (congas), José Chepito Areas (timbales) and Leon ‘Ndugu’ Chancler (drums) manning the bateria of Latin percussion, as these guys are the rhythm section that underpins the vast majority of Santana’s finest album releases, and whilst most people will be picking this up to check out the soloing abilities of the two lead players (both in fine form) it’s the astonishing quality of the rhythm section, and bass player Alphonso Johnson, which will keep you coming back for more. If there is a complaint it’s that occasionally the ‘80s keyboard sounds (due to the, then emergent, new keyboard technologies) are, like Linn drums, now a touch dated, but this is a small irritant when surrounded by so much quality playing. Extras include interviews with Shorter, Santana and festival organiser Claude Nobs and you can also pick up an excellent two disc live CD companion set or indeed get the whole shebang on a 1DVD/2CD set.

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SantanaSantana
Viva Santana
(Columbia/Legacy)

For many fans the story of possibly the finest guitarist of his generation and the various incarnations of his band can be split into many chapters but also two very specific books, the consistently excellent music up to Borboletta and the hit-and-miss music after Festival, and it’s that first volume we were keen to dip into. Sadly this is a long-form Carlos Santana interview underpinned by various live performances, which means acres of seriously hippy dippy spiritual cobblers to wade through, and what is particularly galling is the decision to layer the interview segments directly over the top of the instrumental passages (even on occasion over the guitar solos) so not only do we have to endure some truly mind numbingly trite ‘insights’ but at the expense of some truly beautiful music, and if there’s a way to turn the voice-over off and enjoy the sounds we couldn’t find it. Judging by the amount of material cut together for the ‘Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen’ medley there’s acres of early concert footage out there so why hasn’t someone put it together without all the blether? There is a fantastic DVD to be made about the early Santana years, sadly this ain’t it.

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StereophonicsStereophonics
Language. Sex. Violence. Other?
(V2)

Made up of concert footage from the 2005 world tour and film shot during the making of the bands fifth studio album of the same name – including the breaking in of new drummer Javier Weyler who replaced founding member Stuart Cable - and promo videos for single releases 'Dakota', 'Superman', 'Devil' and 'Rewind' this DVD is something of a mish-mash but, being presented and produced by Stereophonics themselves, it's exactly the sort of item fans will welcome with open arms. Containing personal footage from the band and producer Jim Lowe the film picks up the story as they return from touring in 2004 and start recording at The Stone Rooms and Sahara Sound, sessions which would go on to become Language. Sex. Violence. Other? Following the process from original demos to the finished article recorded at Hook End studios, Graham Rounthwaite then talks about the concepts behind the artwork, Charles Mehling talks about the concepts behind the four videos and the whole shebang concludes with their world tour and release of the Live From Dakota album. So pretty dry viewing for the casual onlooker maybe, but it's a wet dream for fans.

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****************************************************************** The Lost BeatleStuart Sutcliffe
The Lost Beatle
(Digital Classics)

A necessarily short film due to the subjects truncated life, and a story lent even more fascination by the fact that, unlike Pete Best, Stuart Sutcliffe was not pushed from the ranks of the Beatles – although it seems McCartney would not have been averse to applying a well placed shoulder had Sutcliffe not been so close to Lennon (the film touching briefly on the ‘did they, didn’t they’ sexual aspect of their relationship). In fact Sutcliffe’s decision to follow his real passion, painting, might have proved to be far less of a disaster than first appears as he was clearly well on the way to becoming an Abstract Expressionist of no little talent. All that talent sadly would shudder to an almighty halt on April 10, 1962, in Hamburg when he died from a cerebral haemorrhage aged just 22. The old chestnut that he died as a result of a beating sustained while still a member of the group is once again aired (both Lennon and McCartney indulged in bouts of fisticuffs with Sutcliffe), but that seems highly unlikely and this enjoyable, if understandably rather sad, film rightly ends by celebrating the work of a lost artist rather than engaging in tabloid friendly dubious hypothesising.

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SladeSlade
The Very Best Of
(Universal)

Twenty five years, 38 UK hit singles (six of ‘em number one’s) and the lairiest trousers this side of an am-dram Christmas panto. Slade may have clod-hopped their way into pop history as a slightly clunky glam act but in truth if you can negotiate your way past Dave Hill’s platform boots, appalling ‘cut-yer-own’ pudding bowl haircut and the bands tiresome obsession with dyslexic song titles you discover possibly the greatest sing-a-long-a-terrace rock outfit of their, or any other, era - and in Noddy Holder were possessed of a vocalist who’s resounding bellow was as distinctive as it was a danger to passing wildlife. Oddly enough given their pre-eminence in the UK charts during the ‘70s there is actually very little visual Slade material worth owning (aside from feature film Slade In Flame) so The Very Best Of Slade is a welcome release featuring videos, live television performances and rare interview footage - including some entertaining audio commentary. Also currently available is The Very Best Of Slade CD – get in quick and you can bag a limited edition bonus CD – which collects all their hits together for the first time.

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Barbra StreisandBarbra Streisand
The Television Specials
(Warner Music Vision)

Having proved herself to be something of a monumental grump over the last few years (rivalling Lou Reed and Van Morrison in the humourless git stakes), and rather wasted her talents working with hirsute falsetto-ed oaf Barry Gibb it’s high time Bab’s (as she doubtless would hate to be called), re-acquainted the world with what she does well, something this five DVD box-set addresses admirably - the five DVDs in question are four TV specials from the ‘60s My Name is Barbra, Color Me Barbra, Belle of 14th Street, Barbra Streisand: Happening in Central Park, and one from 1973 Barbra Streisand...And Other Musical Instruments. Given the age of some of these ‘Specials’ (the first My Name... dates from 1965 and is, kof, black and white) it’s no surprise to find the set pieces and costumes a bit on the, erm, dated side but you wouldn’t be buying this to marvel at Bab’s dressed as Nefertiti or singing to an elephant (or indeed coyly acting out ‘Alice Blue Gown’ as a stripper), nope it’s that voice we’re after and it’s here in spades, especially on A Happening in Central Park which bins the TV sets for an orchestra and a live New York audience.

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****************************************************************** Status QuoStatus Quo
The Party Ain’t Over Yet
(Warner Music Vision)

Forty years since they first met Francis Rossi and Rock Parfitt are still doing their damnedest to ensure that the Status Quo bandwagon keeps rolling along despite the fact that many a long term fan feels it has been lacking the prerequisite amount of wheels for some time now. This parting of the ways can be easily pinpointed to a period in the early ‘80s when Rossi wanted to start recording songs like 'Marguerita Time' and original rhythm section Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan didn’t – well that and all manner of inter-band drug induced rucking. Since that time Status Quo have edged away from their legs-akimbo, head-bangers image and into rather more sedate popular entertainer mode (recent live shows have been cabaret in all but name), and this DVD, which coincides with their 27th studio album, offers a documentary, a half hour feature on the bands recent Coronation Street star turn, which in truth was a lot of fun, a collection of 'hilarious' bloopers (which sadly aren’t) and a wander down memory lane via some splendidly wobbly early promos and rare live footage.

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Sex PistolsSex Pistols
The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle
(Shout! Factory/CMV)

Hard to believe but it’s true, it’s been twenty five years since The Great Rock And Roll Swindle first hit our cinema screens. Written and directed by Julien Temple – and hijacked by the bands manager Malcom McLaren who at one point tried to fire Temple – the film, initially at least, veers wildly from McLaren’s expansive myth making claims, like the band couldn’t actually play, to great clips of the Pistols themselves proving this to be untrue and onto, generally pretty factual, animated sequences filling in the gaps. Ultimately things degenerate into a sort of Great British seaside farce with guest appearances by sex starlet Mary Millington, Train Robber Ronnie Biggs and loads of aimless wandering around with Steve Jones and film of Sid Vicious being, well vicious really. Despite this the film is still well worth picking up if only for the great live/studio clips of the band in full flow, although if you want the full story then you will also need to pick up Temple’s superior documentary The Filth And The Fury, with input from John Lydon who still expresses nothing but contempt for Swindle, which remains crude, chaotic, anarchic, obnoxious and vile, everything in fact punk was supposed to be.

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16 Horsepower16 Horsepower
16-HP
(Glitterhouse)

Those of you yet to encounter the bug eyed live fire and brimstone alt-country sturm und drang of 16 Horsepower – the fiery pulpit from which god fearing southern gothic preacher David Eugene Edwards testified – have now missed the boat as the band have sadly called it a day (Edwards forming Woven Hand and Pascal Humbert and Jean-Yves Tola creating Lilium), leaving behind a fine body of work, and now this career spanning DVD. Given Edwards lyrical concerns here, and this reviewers staunchly atheistic worldview, you might imagine there would be little common ground on offer but in fact, viewed as one might view any well constructed fiction – the same theory holds true for U2, Nick Cave and Bob Dylan – then the passion and fury with which the songs are delivered transcend the subject matter and simply become one thrilling whole. Although newcomers would do well to pick up a copy of the magnificent Secret South, this collection of videos, live tracks and extended interviews are as good a place as any to dip your toe in the water and for the faithful offer a fascinating keepsake of the band in all their goose-bump inducing glory and a glimpse into Edwards recidivist theology.

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Simon And GarfunkelSimon And Garfunkel
Old Friends
(Columbia)

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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Bruce SpringsteenBruce Springsteen
In Concert: (Un)Plugged
(Columbia)

Having parted company with the E-Street Band and released a brace of albums - Human Touch and Lucky Town - The Boss decided to showcase his new band in November 1992 on MTV Unplugged of all places, especially given that the vast majority of the set is about as unplugged as the national grid. Originally released with sixteen songs this new release features the full nineteen song set including what was then the first ever official recorded version of Light Of Day. Many fans were unsure of an E-Street-Less Springsteen and some simply never warmed to this line-up, however the band are clearly very impressive and although the audience reaction is a little lack-lustre in places it’s a good document of this stage in Springsteen’s career. Those of you looking for a single Boss defining live DVD may be better served by the double disc Live In Barcelona or Live In New York City shows which find Springsteen reunited with his old E-Street muckers, but fans will find much to love here and if you missed it the first time around the extra tracks may just be the incentive you need to pick it up now.

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Gene SimmonsGene Simmons
Speaking In Tongues
(Sanctuary)

If there is a more ludicrous human being on the planet then big tongued sex-pest and Kiss bass player Gene Simmons then it’s hard to imagine who that might be (politicians aside). So convinced is he of his own massive self-importance that he recently took to the stage for a Henry Rollins-esque spoken work tour, and of course to back up his recently released book - Simmons is nothing if not the master of merchandising. Sadly he comes across as more of a pyramid salesman than a raconteur as he entertains his Aussie audience with tales of how much money he has (and how much more he wants), how many women he’s shagged (and how many more he wants to), and how he has not only bought into the ‘American dream’ wholesale, but he IS the American dream. If your idea of entertainment is listening to a cash obsessed, sexist oaf – and of course helping him add another wing to his mansion by stumping up to pay for the privilege - then hop right in, the water is lovely. You also get Gene’s rubbish version of Firestarter for your hard earned dosh and positive acres of barely covered female flesh. VFM or what?

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