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page added: 11/17/04



TAPNotes by Matt Rowe


11/17/04 - TAPNotes by Matt Rowe

Hello again to our latest installment of TAPNotes. This time we'll look at a nice selection of music that should appeal across the board. From your hippies to your Death Metal to your Hard Core to well... we've covered a lot of ground.

We had a Neil Young: Greendale giveaway last shot. It was tough because so few guessed my favorite song. Of course, like lots of Neil Young fans, I have a lot... but the order is 1) Winterlong, 2) Powderfinger, and 3) Like a Hurricane. No one guessed the first two and so we had to give 'em away for a fairly obvious choice, Like a Hurricane. Yeah, but it still is a great song, no doubt.

We have a lot to get through today so we'll pop right in.

Just FYI, all titles reviewed in TAPNotes can be ordered from Amazon.com by clicking on the cover art (as always, doing so supports The Digital Bits).


Grateful Dead: The Grateful Dead Movie Grateful Dead: The Grateful Dead Movie

"Pass here and go on. You're on the Road to Heaven." - Kerouac

This is some serious stuff here. There are few among you who haven't heard about The Grateful Dead, and for good reason. They've influenced multiple generations of musicians in their playing styles. It's hard to not realize the impact that The Dead has had on the jam band Phish, for example, and a host of others. The Dead inspired thousands of fans to collect everything they've done, from bootleg concert shows to albums. In this age of DVD, it's foolish to not think that The Dead would eventually provide collectibles in this format as well.

Monterey Video has released the extraordinary Grateful Dead feature, The Grateful Dead Movie, and has gone to great lengths to supplement it fully and make it release of epic proportions. In addition to remastering from the original 35mm film into high-def and delivering the image to your screen in full anamorphic widescreen video, you also get a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix of the theatrical audio, the theatrical audio in its original stereo and a completely new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for home theaters, all created from the master multi-tracks. The feature also includes full-length audio commentary.

The second disc features never-before-seen concert footage (of some 24 songs - more than 95-minutes worth in all), as well as several documentaries, photo and art galleries and visible lyrics in a subtitle feature (all in full frame). Also included with this 2-disc set is a photo-filled, highly detailed, 24-page booklet.

Every nuance of a Dead concert, from setup to soundchecks to actual performance, is shown here. The unseen footage is like a Christmas gift and the timeframe is heavily nostalgic. For music fans younger than this era, I think you'll be enthralled seeing how Mom and Dad's generation rocked. The beer can bong is an absolute hoot to recall here.

Folks, this is the real deal. If you're a Grateful Dead fan, you've struck gold. Complete, this set is without question THE music DVD issue of the year so far.



Superjoint Ritual: Live at CBGB Superjoint Ritual: Live at CBGB

New York City's CBGB has played host to so many different bands and styles throughout the years, that it shies away from nothing. Superjoint Ritual is the clearest proof of that. Profane, thrashing and raw, SJR provides a mainline of adrenaline in this concert footage. The crowd is whipped into a frenzy as they move to the stage and jump into the crowd. The mosh pit is especially dangerous as you'll see.

The band's rap with the audience is straight, the setting intimate as SJR steamrolls through their CBGB set. SJR, headed by ex-Pantera Phil Anselmo, is in the middle of this self-created pandemonium. These unabashed musicians provide a collection of 9 hard-core songs with all the heat of a burning sun.

Fans of SJR will not be disappointed with this DVD's non-stop crunch. This disc is presented in its full-frame video with PCM Stereo audio. The extras include two music videos, for Waiting for the Turning Point and Dress Like a Target, and a band interviews segment.


Rod Stewart: VH1 Storytellers Rod Stewart: VH1 Storytellers

One of the great singers in the pantheon of rock music, Rod Stewart's involvement has run from the Jeff Beck Group, The Faces (this writer's idea of the purest Rock 'n Roll) and a highly successful solo career. There is no argument of Rod the Mod's importance.

This VH1 Storyteller edition is a presentation of 9 songs and is fortified with 2 bonus tracks not seen in the original broadcast. Among the classics found on this DVD are Stay With Me (the Faces' only bonafide hit single - you can see it in Stewart's eyes that he misses this period), a stirring version of Ronnie Lane's masterpiece Ooh La La and the solo hit Maggie May.

Rod is in good form here as he obliges fans with answers concerning his songs, even allowing one fan to come to the stage to assist in the singing of a tune (extra value for those inflated "golden circle" seats).

This DVD includes the original full frame video with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo. In addition to the bonus songs, there's a "music only" feature that allows you to watch the program while skipping the banter in between. There's also an enclosed booklet with a discography and a lengthy essay.


Travis: At the Palace Travis: At the Palace

Brit Pop sensation, Travis, typically art-school in style, has been around for approximately 14 years. They've infused a more Rock sound into Oasis' lushness and created a hybrid sound that is still quite popular today. Out of the gate, they achieved a strong following with several high charting singles.

This DVD presents a sold out Travis performance filmed at the Alexandra Palace in December of 2003. The set includes 22 songs. among them Why Does It Always Rain on Me?, Driftwood, Love Will Come Through and Sing.

The great thing about this DVD is the way that it's presented. You not only get a veritable smorgasbord of Travis songs in a live setting, but you get them in captivating anamorphic widescreen video with your choice of DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Digital 2.0 audio for the purists. There's also a 22-minute documentary on the preparations for the show. Once again, Rhino's created another excellent DVD production for music fans.


Peter Gabriel: Play Peter Gabriel: Play

Peter Gabriel, the theatrical frontman extraordinaire originally from the progressive band Genesis, has always had a flair for the avant-garde merger of visuals and music. After he left Genesis, he embarked on a highly successful solo career that spawned many hits and fan favorites. During the MTV era, he was widely known for producing cutting edge videos that entertained so well that you often saw the visuals in your mind when you later heard the tune.

Warner Music and Gabriel's production team have put together a fantastic array of Gabriel videos for this DVD - some 23 in all spanning 25 years - including classic signature songs like Sledgehammer, Games Without Frontiers, Shock the Monkey, Solsbury Hill (my favorite) and In Your Eyes, as well as more recent songs like Lovetown, Growing Up and The Barry Williams Show. Some of these videos you're likely not to have seen before, and it's a pretty the complete collection.

There are great extras as well. With a programmable feature, you'll be able to choose up to 18 of your favorite songs to create a playlist for straight-thru play or looping. Other extras include a reworked Games Without Frontiers, live clips, introductions to many of the videos by Gabriel (some featuring vintage footage) and trailers for other Gabriel DVDs. The videos are presented in their original aspect ratios (some full frame and some anamorphic widescreen), and audio is available in 96/24 DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo. The new DTS 96/24 mix was produced by Daniel Lanois and Richard Chappell, and it's absolutely outstanding - definitely the preferred audio selection here.

This is a stunning music DVD in virtually every way. Not only do you get great and innovative Gabriel videos, but the sound, especially the DTS, is beyond words. It's all slip-cased into a digipak and includes a beautifully designed, full-color, 24-page booklet with lots of photos and which leaves nothing out in terms of details for each track. All that and the menus are cool too. Where else are you going to get such love and joy? Very recommended.



Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival

This concert, recorded live at The Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, is 2 DVDs worth of Clapton, with the likes of JJ Cale, BB King, Joe Walsh, John McLaughlin, Robert Cray, Santana and lots more. The set kicks off with a barrage of introductory comments by many of the artists found here, but when Clapton takes to the stage with a rousing rendition of Cocaine, you know that you're in for a treat.

This 34-song blues-fest (some 210-minutes of music and observations) will be a constant companion for your DVD player. The video quality is fantastic, and the audio options include DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo mixes that will please even the most hard to please.

Within the expanse of these two discs, you'll hear such classics as I Shot The Sheriff and Have You Ever Loved a Woman by Eric Clapton, Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh, Steamroller by James Taylor, I'm the Hell Outta Here by Steve Vai (the Devil's protege in Crossroads for you movie buffs), After Midnight by JJ Cale (with Eric Clapton) and Tush by ZZ Top. Mere appetizers.

Extras include a photo gallery and in-depth artist interviews. The packaging features an Amaray slipcased in a cardboard sleeve. The discs sit in a split tray that allows both discs to lay one over the other. The set also includes a fold-out booklet that details the songs and the cause (a fund-raising event to help Crossroads Centre, an abuse rehabilitation program founded by Clapton).

You can't go wrong with this concert footage. No way!



Breakfast with Hunter Breakfast with Hunter

Rock 'n Roll would be incomplete without the many talents that contributed to its mystique outside the realm of just the music. No one occupies that space more deservedly and more confrontationally than the creator of Gonzo journalism, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson, as some of you may know, was the subject of Terry Gilliam's surreal Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, based on his book of the same name and starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro.

This 91-minute documentary is a "stitched together" span of accumulated film and video segments gathered since Thompson's emergence into the pop consciousness of the 1970s. The Doctor has always embodied the outer periphery of our times, with all the wit and insight afforded a man of such unique vision. Employed by Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner to chronicle the political trail of 1972, Thompson produced a collection of stories published as Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, which gave voice to a generation of politically aware young adults.

You'll watch as Thompson terrorizes Wenner, engages in various seemingly anti-social behaviors and, best of all, attempts to explain the sanity of his acts. You'll also visit Ralph Steadman, Thompson's choice for the artist that best captures his visual thoughts.

Supplements to the DVD include PJ O'Rourke's reading of the rare Screwjack, more discussions with PJ (Thompson's Rolling Stone political desk successor), a filmed editing of several of Hunter's books, a warm lyrical discussion between the Doctor and the late Warren Zevon, and more. This documentary is presented on disc in its original full frame video, with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio.

If you were previously aware of Thompson's influence and his sharp humor and wit, then you'll fall in love with this revealing and wonderful documentary. Thompson is the author of my favorite quote, a quote that sums up life very well:

"But the ticket, take the ride."

This review is dedicated to the memory of Dan Williams, who shared with me the love of the above quote.



The Knack: Getting the Knack The Knack: Getting the Knack

For those that remember the high-flying song My Sharona, the hit that was inspired by the lust for an actual woman, then this 110-minute documentary will be revelatory. It deeply probes the beginnings of The Knack, makes its comparisons and then lets us watch as the band (as the film states) goes from 0 to 90 and then crash.

The doc is complete with a ton of photos and clips and a running commentary of different personalities, most often the original band members. As it moves along you'll see Sharona, the cute girl that became immortalized by an awe-struck Fieger. You also see footage that shows the band's power pop, delivered with punk intensity.

The Knack became a sort of iconoclastic band, helping to change the world's musical view into New Wave. Los Angeles and the U.S. needed big names to help offset the "as usual" inflow of successful British talent. The Knack, for a time, provided just that.

An interesting tidbit here is the fact that the first Knack album cost a mere $17,000 dollars to produce. It's fun to just listen to My Sharona, which dominates this DVD, and allow yourself the luxury of slipping back to a time when music was somewhat more innocent than it is today. Visually, The Knack are reminiscent of early Beatles, right down to the simplicity of the drum kit.

Video is full frame and audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Extras on this DVD include a new video of My Sharona using footage from the 1979 recording session of the song, a live Whisky film, acoustic Fieger, a drum demonstration, raw rehearsal audio of My Sharona, and a string of interviews that include the still hot Sharona.

If you were a fan (and who really wasn't?) you'll get everything Knack you could possibly want in this package. Including Sharona.



Live Aid Live Aid

Over the years, there have been a number of amazing and historic concerts, all of them tremendous undertakings. One of the early concerts designed to help the needy in other, less fortunate lands was the incredible Concert for Bangla Desh - the George Harrison aid vehicle to help raise funds. There was a call for help which was answered by the Rock giants of the time. But the Concert for Bangla Desh pales in comparison to the immensity of the Bob Geldof-led humanitarian effort the world has come to know as Live Aid.

On July 13th, 1985, Geldof's clarion call of help for Africa famine victims was answered by a large outpouring of musicians, including many of the great bands of the time - more than 60 in all. The day-long Live Aid concert event was broadcast live on MTV and other networks around the globe. The concert unfolded in two locations on two separate continents (JFK Stadium in Philadelphia through the USA for Africa contingency and Wembley Stadium in London spearheaded by Geldof's Band Aid). Linked by the love of humanity, the music world (and mankind as a whole) performed one of the greatest miracles of unity and compassion to date.

This 4-disc release begins with the videos that set off this extraordinary happening, Do They Know It's Christmas and We Are the World, along with a short BBC news piece on the famine itself. The London half of the concert then commences with Status Quo preforming Rockin' All Over the World. A very apt beginning.

As the day progressed, the Philadelphia program joined as well, and we were treated to more than 10 hours of some of the best music of the early 1980s, featuring remarkable performances by David Bowie, Sting, Elvis Costello, Queen, Elton John, U2, The Who, Madonna, Dire Straits, Adam Ant, Hall & Oats, Sade, The Cars, Eric Clapton, Duran Duran, Billy Joel, Simple Minds, Neil Young, Santana, The Pretenders and many, many more. We even saw a reunited Led Zeppelin on stage.

This collection is presented in a gate-fold digipak with a slip-case. The contents of the discs are displayed in their original full frame TV presentation, with available audio choices of DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo 2.0. It's important to keep in mind that both the video and audio quality are a bit mixed. The concert was originally not intended to be recorded for legal reasons. Luckily, both the U.K. and U.S. crews largely ignored the restriction. Unfortunately, some performances were still lost a variety of technical reasons. In addition, some of the U.K. footage features horizontal banding (known as microphony) due to the 1980s tube cameras being affected by the loud volume of the stadium amplification. Given all this, however, what you do get here is pretty remarkable - some 10 hours of extraordinary music.

In addition to the concert itself, there are a smattering of extras that help to value this set even further. A number of performances that weren't broadcast on the day have been restored for this DVD, and there are several additional performances included here that didn't take place during the Live Aid event, but which were dedicated to the cause nonetheless (these include sets by Run DMC and others). There's a documentary on how the concert succeeded in raising aid money and what the result of that was. There's also a booklet that lists all the songs, provides background notes on the event and the foundation and even includes some behind-the-scenes photos.

It's also important to mention here that the proceeds from this DVD will funnel into the coffers of the Band Aid Trust that, to date, has spent over $144 million to help relieve the famines in Africa.

Great music, great memories, great cause. I was transported. You will be too. Live Aid absolutely demands a place on your music DVD shelf.

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Last time, I promised to look at Roxy Music and John Entwhistle DVDs. I was just so overwhelmed with the titles that I presented here that I've "pushed" them over to the next installment. Which, incidentally, will be available in a few weeks BECAUSE there are so many more music titles to get through. Of those, I expect to look at new DVD releases by David Byrne, CSN, Ray Charles, John Lennon, Godsmack, Jimmy Page/Robert Plant and few others as well.

Until next time...

Matt Rowe
mattrowe@thedigitalbits.com


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