Reviews in this issue:
- Peter Gabriel - Still Growing Up Live & Unwrapped
- Yes - Songs From Tsongas ~ 35th Anniversary Concert
- Various Artists - Gouveia Artrock 2004 (Duo Review)
- IQ - Live From London
- Mike Oldfield - Elements
- Genesis - Live
- Pink Floyd - Inside Pink Floyd ~ A Critical Review 1975-1996
- Pink Floyd - Live Anthology
- Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother: The Ultimate Critical Review
- The Fromuz - Playing The Imitation (Live)
- Echolyn - Stars And Gardens ~ Volume 4
- Gongzilla - Live In Concert
- Steve Howe - Remedy Live (Duo Review)
- Daniel Gauthier - The Wish
Peter Gabriel - Still Growing Up Live & Unwrapped
Disc 1: Still Growing Up Live [87.11]: The Feeling Begins (4.42), Red Rain (6.24), Secret World (9.33), White Ashes (6.08), Games Without Frontiers (5.40), Burn You Up, Burn You Down (4.34), The Tower That Ate People (5.16), San Jacinto (10.18), Digging In The Dirt (6.39), Solsbury Hill (4.20), Sledgehammer (6.31), Come Talk To Me (6.41), Biko (10.19)
Bonus Material: In Your Eyes (from Still Growing Up 2004) (11.48), No Self Control (from POV 1988) (6.02), Credits (1.52)
Disc 2: Still Growing Up Unwrapped [77.16]: The Feeling Begins / Red Rain (7.01), Secret World (8.59), White Ashes (5.42), Burn You Up, Burn You Down (4.52), San Jacinto (10.06), Digging In The Dirt (6.34), Solsbury Hill (4.11), Sledgehammer (6.56), The Tower That Ate People (5.46), Come Talk To Me (6.10), Biko (9.36), Afterthought (1.17)
Bonus Material: Darkness (Big Room rehearsal 2002) (6.20), No Way Out (Big Room Rehearsal 2002) (7.31), Growing Up (Big Room Rehearsal 2002) (7.23), Downside Up (on Later... with Jools Holland, 2000) (6.14), Father, Son (on Later... with Jools Holland) (4.16)
To release another concert DVD a mere two years after the terrific Growing Up Live, may seem a bit strange. After all, as Peter Gabriel himself admits on this DVD, the Still Growing Up Tour was basically the same thing as the Growing Up Tour. However, with Still Growing Up Peter Gabriel and his band also played a few gigs in smaller or different venues, as well as a few festivals. For these shows they played a scaled down version of the show, with more emphasis on the music than on the surrounding show. It is these shows that Still Growing Up Live and Unwrapped focuses on. The first disc, Still Growing Up Live, sees Gabriel re-teaming with the world's leading concert film maker Hamish Hamilton. Their new concert film has two goals: Firstly to give an impression of the 'scaled down' Still Growing Up concerts, and secondly to present some songs that did not get performed at the Growing Up Tour, and therefore not featured on the Growing Up Live DVD. The attempt to keep the overlap with Growing Up Live to a minimum has resulted in the odd side-effect that not a single track from Peter Gabriel's latest album Up is featured.
The other oddity of Still Growing Up Live is that the footage is filmed at nine different locations. Completely different locations, I must add. One features the Growing Up round stage, one is a square stage with a round catwalk, one is a small stage in a town square, one is in an ancient amphitheatre, one is a festival stage, one is in a stadium... And rather than presenting complete songs from the various gigs, the footage of all these different places is in fact mixed up completely. Each and every single shot is taken from a different concert than the previous. This makes the footage fun and dynamic, but at the same time also incredibly tiring to watch. I mean, continuity between shots is virtually non-existent.
Where Growing Up Live was like an oasis of rest and utter beauty (each and every shot was a genuine work of art) this one is almost artificially dynamic with MTV-style camera movements and super-fast editing.
The main resting point comes with the tremendous rendition of San Jacinto, definitely one of the highlights of the DVD. With basically nothing more than moving white beams of light the lighting is incredibly effective for this particular song and it is beautifully shot with close-ups of band members faces, hands, and most notably Tony Levin's Chapman stick.
The band performance is what I would call the biggest attraction to this concert film. The band had been playing together for nearly two years when this DVD was shot, and it shows.
With Peter Gabriel live releases you always wonder how much of it is really live. Well, I can tell you, this DVD sounds pretty live to my ears. While Gabriel is way too much a perfectionist ever to release a warts and all live release, this one is fairly raw for his doing.
However, that doesn't mean the band isn't playing without backing tracks. For some strange reason Come Talk To Me is played with Manu Katche's percussion playing on the backing track.
The biggest down point of the film is that it isn't really a concert film. It is far too fragmental and chaotic.
As for the sound, as always it is impeccable. The DTS soundtrack is crisp clear, with the instruments and effects well-balanced over all five speakers. The Dolby Digital surround soundtrack is equal to the DTS soundtrack and the stereo mix is also fine, just a bit loud, so you must remember to turn the volume down before switching audio settings.
The second disc contains the new Anna Gabriel film Still Growing Up Unwrapped. I quite liked her film Growing Up On Tour: A Family Portrait and I was looking forward to seeing another film based on her following her dad around on tour. Unfortunately it comes as quite a disappointment. Still Growing Up Unwrapped is, in fact, almost the same as Still Growing Up Live, but it includes interview snippets with Gabriel and occasionally the other band members, as well as some very artistic images of the footage being projected on Peter Gabriel's face. Altogether these interviews last for about 10 minutes, and each subject is touched upon all too briefly. Rather than an addition to the first film, this film is more an alternative, since about 75% of the footage is the same on both films!
One thing that is a huge improvement over previous Peter Gabriel live DVDs is the bonus material. The first disc contains In Your Eyes, filmed during the Still Growing Up tour, and No Self Control from the 1988 concert video P.O.V. It would be nice to see this concert film released on DVD some day too. I've never seen it, but it looks like quite a cool stage show too. Too bad the video comes from a time when it was still considered cool to mix live footage with abstract images and bits from promo videos, so it is quite hard to follow what is going on on stage. (Peter Gabriel being attacked by moving light-rigs - cool!)
The second disc contains rehearsal footage of three songs from Up (finally some music from Up) and two tracks from Ovo performed at "Later... with Jools Holland". It is nice to see Peter Gabriel taking the back seat for the performance of performance of Downside Up, which is sung by Elisabeth Fraser and Pat Buchanan.
In conclusion I must say that while this is another great Peter Gabriel release, it also disappoints slightly. Maybe it is just because we have been spoiled too much in the past. The performances, as mentioned, are excellent and for that alone it is worth buying this DVD.
There are also unconfirmed reports that the soundtrack of this DVD will be released on a double CD as well, but no news about this is available yet. Here's hoping that they will.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10
Yes - Songs From Tsongas ~ 35th Anniversary Concert
Disc 1 [77.35]: Intro: Firebird Suite (2.13), Going For The One (5.35), Sweet Dreams (6.48), Your Move/I've Seen All Good People (7.11), Mind Drive Parts 1 & 2 (7.31), South Side Of The Sky (10.47), Turn Of The Century (8.08), My Eyes/Mind Drive part 3 (7.45), Yours Is No Disgrace (13.29)
Bonus Material: Interview with Roger Dean (7.33)
Disc 2 [102.52]: The Meeting Room/The Meeting (3.24), Long Distance Runaround (3.28), Wondrous Stories (4.05), Time Is Time (2.32), Roundabout (5.45), Show Me (3.56), Owner Of A Lonely Heart (4.30), Second Initial (5.00), Rhythm Of Love (5.13), And You And I (11.08), Ritual - Nous Sommes Du Soleil (19.01), Every Little Thing (4.53), Starship Trooper (12.19)
I can recall Jon Anderson stating in an interview not so long ago that Yes would concentrate their future efforts on DVD’s rather than albums. Just to prove the point, this is the fifth DVD release from the band since their last studio album Magnification in 2001. As the title confirms, this set is a recording from the 2004 tour celebrating 35 years in progressive rock. With so much material to draw from, there must have been a lot of collective head scratching when it came to selecting the songs for the tour. Not surprisingly, the balance of material is in favour of the ‘classic’ albums from the 1970’s.
The DVD features the full 2½ hour concert recorded at Tsongas, New England in May 2004. A 7 minute interview with Roger Dean is the single extra on this two-disc set. The interview is not particularly enlightening and will not stand up to repeat viewing; such is the fate of most DVD extras. Both discs feature the usual menu options, allowing songs to be selected individually, very useful when reviewing a 2½ hour show. Picture quality is good throughout, with some excellent camerawork. Thankfully, this DVD does not suffer from the ‘keep the camera pointed at the drummer during the keyboard solo’ syndrome. The usual audio options are available, and the sound is excellent, rendering individual voices and instruments crystal clear in the mix.
The stage set consisting of Roger Dean’s inflatables and some curious looking ‘robotic drums’ looks impressive enough, thanks to some effective lighting. Appropriately, the concert features the ‘classic’ line up of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White. It’s fair to say that the bands albums in recent years have not been at the cutting edge of progressive rock. However, with a wealth of excellent material to choose from and stunning musicianship, a Yes show is always a major event.
Proceedings begin not surprisingly with the taped finale from the Firebird Suite, before Steve Howe’s pedal steel guitar leads the band into Going for the One. This is a cracking start to the show, with the band firing on all cylinders from the outset. Jon Anderson may struggle to reach the high notes, but he’s still sounding pretty good for a man approaching his 60th birthday. Sweet Dreams starts with a brief drum solo from White, which provides an excuse to show off the robotic drums. Apart from this, and some excellent solos from Howe and Wakeman, this version of the song remains faithful to the 35 year-old original. I’ve Seen All Good People makes a welcome appearance, and as a point of trivia, this song has featured on all of the band’s DVD releases to date. Mind Drive must have taken many audiences by surprise, and is proof that Yes in the 90’s could still produce a long form piece of music that works in the live arena. This song displays typical Yes moments of contrasting drama and tranquillity, before making way for South Side of the Sky. This neglected gem from 1971 resurfaced for the 'Full Circle’ tour, and makes a welcome return here. Did the Spock's Beard cover on ‘Snow’ prompt the bands renewed interest perhaps? The exchange between guitar and mini moog during the closing section is a show highlight. Turn of the Century is a personal favourite, with the band providing an orchestral backdrop to Jon‘s plaintive lyrics of love lost and rediscovered. A return to Mind Drive (Part 3), before Yours Is No Disgrace featuring an extended solo from Howe, brings disc 1 to a close.
The ‘unplugged’ section of the show makes for a refreshing start to the second half of the show, and disc 2. After a brief piano solo from Wakeman, Anderson joins him on stage for a relaxed rendition of The Meeting from the ABWH album. With the rest of the band back on stage, the appreciative audience are treated to 30 minutes of excellent acoustic versions of songs taken from various stages of their long career. All credit to the band for a fresh approach on stage, and breathing new life into regular crowd pleasers like Roundabout and Owner Of A Lonely Heart. Steve Howe entertains with a brief solo while the roadies prepare the stage for the last part of the show.
Rhythm Of Love seems at odds with what’s gone before. Trevor Rabin’s voice is clearly evident in the taped intro, Anderson goes walkabout in the audience, and Wakeman’s solo includes a few bars of The Sailor’s Hornpipe. All very tongue in cheek, and no bigger contrast as Yes songs go between this one and And You and I which follows. I may have witnessed better performances of this 70’s classic, but this version still sounds good, and the audience show their approval with a standing ovation. And so to the final number of the main set, Ritual. Much maligned by critics on its initial release back in the 70’s, this song has been re-appraised in recent years, not least by the band themselves. Chris Squire makes this number his own with an extended bass solo, followed by a drum workout courtesy of Squire, Anderson and White. Steve Howe brings things to a peaceful conclusion with some tasteful and restrained playing.
We are spared the inevitable calls for “more” thanks to editing, before Every Little Thing from the bands first album kick starts the encore in fine fashion. What a pity the band dropped this song from the set by the time the tour arrived in Europe the following month. Anderson and Squire’s harmonies are superb, doing justice to the Beatles original. With Roundabout out of the way, the audience must have anticipated the final song of the evening, and were not to be disappointed. Starship Trooper sums up every thing that is good about Yes. In the final section Würm, extended solos from Squire, Wakeman and Howe respectively bring the piece, and the show to a fitting conclusion.
Admittedly this DVD set has little in the way of frills, with one short extra, basic menu graphics, and no elaborate packaging. Also, the individual performances are not without faults. Anderson’s voice is strained on occasions, Squire does not always sing in key, Howe’s playing is ragged in places, and Wakeman’s synth work lacks attack at times. These are minor niggles however. What really counts is that this is a fine record of a memorable concert, with a band still able to entertain a discerning audience with mostly excellent material, and first class musicianship. Some fans may have been disappointed with the absence of regular epics like Close to the Edge and Awaken, but I believe the band should be applauded for trying something different this time round. Recommended.
Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10
Various Artists - Gouveia Artrock 2004
Isildur's Bane [73.31]: Arch (0.54), Heal (intro) (1.30), Good (3.12), Open (4.18)(2.48), Eyes (7.00), Idea (9.10), Holy Fools (8.35), Cage (5.15), Unity (3.32), The Pilot (5.12), The Voyage (20.59) [The Adventure Of The Whirling Delirium (6.27), A Telescope And A Hot Air Balloon (3.42), Wild As A Toad (5.19), Magnificent Giant Bottles (5.31)], Credits (0.59)
Periferia Del Mondo [48.47]: Luci Da Un Universo Neonato (0.51), Percezioni Della Memoria (1.50), Un Borghese Piccolo Piccolo (8.57), Incanti e Perplessitá (4.52), Can Stop (5.54), Periferia Del Mondo (10.19), Brand-y (5.46), Solo Clarinetto (2.03), L'infedele (7.38), Credits (0.31)
La Torre Dell'alchimista [30.10]: Risveglio Procreazione Dubbio I (5.12), Acquario (5.20), La Persistenza Della Memoria (2.34), Idra (1.44), Epilogo: Risveglio Procreazione E Dubbio II (9.53), Lo Gnomo (4.44), Credits (0.40)
Fernando Guiomar [16.58]: Ibero (16.15), Credits (0.42)
Bonus Material: Outside Looking In (3.56), The Place Where Music Breaths (4.05)
The Gouveia Artrock festival, now in its third year, is organised by the insanely dedicated Portugal Progressivo Cultural Association, and so far, has boasted excellent and varied line-ups of some of the best the current prog scene has to offer. As if this was not enough, the festival is held in a picturesque village high in the Portuguese mountains, making a trip well worth the effort, and the organisers definitely deserve your support – long may they continue!
Of course, there are many of us that will be unable to make the journey, and luckily an ongoing series of DVDs enables us to join in the fun, with a choice sampling from some of the bands who appeared. The first DVD featured Nil from France and La Mascera Del Cera from Italy and it’s high on my wants list. The DVD currently under the microscope is taken from the 2nd festival, held in 2004, and should be an essential purchase for any dedicated prog fan.
Whilst not featuring any Big Name bands (perhaps the best known being Swedes Isildur's Bane) nor really any Neo or commercial prog rock, this fine DVD makes an excellent introduction to any of the bands featured, so even if you are unfamiliar with any (or all) of them, I would still recommend you give this one a try if you’re looking to expand your musical horizons.
The camera work and sound is good throughout, often providing an intimate portrayal of the various instrumentalists at work, mixing close-ups with full stage shots to full effect.
As an existing fan of all three of the main featured bands, this was always going to find favour with me. It should be no secret that I am an avid fan of Italian Prog, and Periferia Del Mondo and La Torre Dell’ Alchimista are, in my opinion, two of the best of the new wave of Italian groups, which have stepped back from the heavily Genesis – inspired Neo sound which proliferated in Italy in the Eighties and Nineties, to re-explore the classic 70’s style of PFM, Banco, Le Orme and many others. Both Periferia and La Torre admirably capture the spirit of these greats, with PDM favouring a jazzy slant akin to Jet Lag era PFM, and La Torre modifying the template of ELP and Banco for some keyboard driven prog magic. Beware though, La Torre’s keyboardist wears a cape (with no discernable irony) so you may not want to show this DVD to any non-proggers, or you may risk a savage ribbing. This aside, you are in for some great music, with Periferia’s lively fusion being slightly more appealing to me in a live setting than the studied intensity of La Torre, but you may not agree. They’re both great really!
I recently gave a rave review for Isildur’s Bane’s own concert DVD The Observatory, and fans of the band may wonder whether they need this one as well, given that the set-list (though not identical) shares many of the same numbers. I can only say a resounding YES, you do need this one too, as the stripped down line-up featured here gives an intense performance which adds considerable edge to the material, showing it in quite a different light than on the previous DVD. The addition of Joachim Gustafsson on violin on the epic The Voyage really lifts the music to another level. The absence of the female vocalists places Christoph Jeppsson even more in the limelight, and his gritty performance is superb – though perhaps not to everyone’s taste, I absolutely love his vocals. Peter Gabriel fans should warm to him easily.
The DVD is rounded off with a solo acoustic guitar performance from the Portuguese virtuoso Fernando Guiomar of the band Trape-Zape. Apparently he is not used to playing solo, and the piece performed will be reworked for full band at a later date, but his playing is excellent and fans of solo guitar will marvel at his finger work. I must admit that I found 16 minutes of acoustic guitar to be a bit too long, but I would be interested to hear the full band version.
A couple of brief documentaries, offering a glimpse of the village and its surrounds, are all in the way of extras, but who needs extras when the DVD is choc full of top-quality progressive music. This DVD is sure to be a personal favourite of mine, and should be snapped up by fans of any of the bands featured. It’s a great way to sample some new bands too.
The Gouveia festival has proven to be one of the world's most interesting prog festivals when it comes to line-ups. Held in the town of Gouveia up in the mountains of Portugal, the festival always strive to invite bands as diverse as possible.
Last year I reviewed the DVD of the 2003 edition of the Gouveia Art Rock Festival and was pleasantly surprised to be acquainted with two bands I had not heard before. This year it is no different. Isildur's Bane is a band name I have known for years, but I never got round to checking them out. This DVD offers the chance to finally see what it is all about and I have to say that I never knew what I missed until now.
The seven-piece band plays a cross between neo prog, fusion, RIO and gawd knows what else, this is what you could call prog in the truest sense. Long, epic pieces are altered with shorter pieces including an acoustic piece. There is both a drummer and a percussionist, a violin player, and instruments like a theramin and vocoder are all utilised. In one word: wow!
Seventy three minutes later we aren't even halfway watching this DVD. The next band up is Italian Periferia Del Mondo, a band which plays a very jazzy type of prog, with saxophone and clarinet being the instruments of choice. While I enjoy a healthy dose of jazz in my music, this is not really my style. However when Alessandro Papotto starts singing I actually wish he'd pick up his saxophone again, as his voice is definitely his weakest instrument.
The second Italian band La Torre Dell'Alchimista looks like a collection of prog cliches, with a lead singer who looks as if he has a dull office job during the daytime and a keyboardist wearing some sort of medieval cape.
Keyboard player Michele Mutti also does a good Rick Wakeman on the piano solo Idra, which resembles every bit the music of the Yes keyboardist.
Halfway the footage the band actually opts for a different approach and swaps the concert footage for home movies, shot on the road. Not entirely sure what they meant to do here, as the images of band members driving down to Portugal are far less interesting than seeing the same band members perform their songs.
Musically this is somewhat more accessible than their countrymen. Good ol'fashioned Neo prog, with lots of synth solos and a healthy dose of flute. Yet strangely, no guitar solos. And all sung in Italian, so no worrying about accents here.
Fernando Guiomar is presented with only one song... a 16-minute song... a 16-minute acoustic guitar piece, in fact. Definitely a bold thing, his plucking and strumming more resembles classical music than prog, and is in fact a great serene piece to listen to. Watching it is a different matter though, as it is -understandably- a somewhat dull and static performance. Perhaps they should have included some on-the-road footage here instead.
There is some bonus material in the form of a tourist-board style presentation of the city of Gouveia and its surroundings, The Place Where The Music Breaths as well as a nice little behind-the-scenes doc in the form of Outside Looking In.
Like the previous Gouveia DVD release the footage is very well shot with limited resources. There are many cameras scattered around the stage and in the audience, and the lighting is excellent throughout.
There is a little, but barely noticeable quality loss as the footage is presented in Mpeg, but that also means that more music can be fit on the disc, and that alone makes it a huge improvement over last year's disc.
Altogether this is another excellent release from the Portugal Progressivo Cultural Association. Like the previous DVD it is an excellent way of introducing yourself to some bands which you might otherwise not see or hear. I was impressed by Isildur's Bane, and also the Italian prog is something I would not have discovered otherwise.
IQ - Live From London
Tracklist: Awake and Nervous (7:06), Outer Limits (7:12), It All Stops Here (6:35), Just CHanging Hands (5:56), The Wake (3:41), The Magic Roundabout (6:01), Widow's Peak (8:37), The Thousand Days (3:35), Corners (4:55)
It was 20 years ago today ...
Let's start this one with a snippet from the Record Collector special on IQ, published in 1993:
"As the band prepared for a tour supporting Magnum in November and December 85, LWT (London Weekend Television) broadcast a show that had been especially recorded for the 'Live from London' television series a few months earlier at the Camden Palace, on May 13th. Although this caught IQ performing well below par, hindered by collapsing microphone stands and faulty keyboard settings, the program took on special significance as it featured Peter on vocals. Pressure from the producer prevented performances of either of the "Tales" epics, and the short set (drawn predominantly from "The Wake") was hardly typical of the band's live show. The same could also be said for the audience who looked as if they'd been dragged off the street, such was their overall lack of enthusiasm for this unadvertised afternoon performance."
Now, all of this does not set very high expectations for this DVD, which is a shame because there is lots to actually enjoy. True, the set list was hardly representative for a typical IQ gig. It consisted of all of the Wake album minus Headlong (which wasn't performed in this line-up until the 20th Anniversary Show) plus Awake and Nervous from the Tales album, It All Stops Here from the Seven Stories into Eight tape and B-side Just Changing Hands. So indeed, no Gateway and no Enemy Smacks. Then again, I can't really blame the producer since this was meant for a TV broadcast and most people are just not used to songs running over 4 minutes, let alone 14.
Also, the performance is indeed not the strongest the band have shown over the last 23 years. Peter is sometimes struggling with some of the vocals, Martin seems to have completely shuffled his keyboard sounds at times and Mike's guitar play is often too low in the mix. But all of these complaints simply pale now that this material is finally widely available again. In August '86 the concert was released on vinyl and video under the title Living Poof ... err ... Proof by the Samurai label without the band giving their consent (or even knowing about it). In 1992 IQ's own record label, Giant Electric Pea, re-released the album on CD. The video has never officially resurfaced since it's original release.
There is also special historical value in the recording since it was made just 2 months before Peter Nicholls left the band (only to return in 1991). And it's not just the only official footage with Peter Nicholls prior to departing, it's also the only footage with Tim Esau (and not Esaw as mentioned in the DVD menu credits) on bass (not counting his guest appearance at the 20th Anniversary Show).
Finally, regardless of the quality of the performance - which is not brilliant but still very okay - this DVD gives you an almost full length live rendition of The Wake, a month before it was actually released, as well as a blast from the past as far as fashion statements are concerned. Agreed, the eighties was a weird decade, wasn't it ? Exploding hairdo's, girlie boots and a wide range of jackets proudly modelled by Peter Nicholls during many a costume change.
The DVD has a very decent biography of he band in the inlay (I think it's actually the band's own official bio). The DVD menu further consists of the band line-up (Credits) and the obligatory photo gallery. The pictures in the gallery have mostly been taken from the left side of the stage so there's lots of pics of Pete and Mike, but none of Martin and Cookie. Also, there's no further bonus material, it's just the 53 minute show. The quality of the footage is very reasonable, though slightly blurred during full stage shots. The close ups are good though.
To sum it up, this is a must have for fans of IQ's earlier material (especially The Wake) and those who wonder what the band were like in the mid eighties. Others might check it out as well but shouldn't consider this a highly recommended item.
Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10
Mike Oldfield - Elements
Tracklist: Tubular Bells (part 1) (24.59), Don Alfonso (4.30), In Dulci Jubilo (3.04), Porthsmouth (2.03), William Tell Overture (3.54), Guilty (4.10), Blue Peter (2.18), Wonderful Land (2.52), Five Miles Out (4.17), Moonlight Shadow (3.42), Shadow On The Wall (3.12), Crime Of Passion (3.42), Tricks Of The Light (3.55), To France (4.28), Etude (3.25), Pictures In The Dark (4.10), Shine (3.22), Innocent (3.32), Earth Moving (4.04), Heavens Open (4.18)
Bonus Material: The Space Movie (Incantations 3&4) (17.16), The Wind Chimes [41.13]: [The Wind Chimes (21.52), Northpoint (3.27), Islands (4.19), The Time Has Come (3.52), Flying Start (3.34), Magic Touch (4.07)], Interview (13.23)
Mike Oldfield's contract with Virgin went out with a bang. A big bang to be precise and it was called Elements. Justly dubbed the ultimate anthology it consisted of a single disc best-of album containing all the singles, a four-CD ultimate collection box set containing pretty much everything and then some more, and a VHS containing sixty minutes of video clips. The Elements product line has been completed with this DVD, which was released at the end of 2004.
While the title suggests this is merely the DVD version of the VHS video, it actually turns out that for once a record company has created something which respects the fans and isn't merely another way of milking them. The 60-minute VHS is updated to 90 minutes worth of videos, including the full BBC performance of Tubular Bells part 1 and no less than 14 videos that were left off the original VHS release. This includes some songs that are not available elsewhere like Don Alfonso which one of Oldfield's lesser songs (slight understatement) but has a surprisingly funny Benny Hill style slapstick video. Another 'gem' is the Jon Anderson collaboration Shine, which somehow never made it to an album (or even compilation) and was only released as a single in 1986.
The video to Heaven's Open actually uses a completely different version of the song, with different guitar parts and a partially different vocal melody. Mike Oldfield is over-acting a bit here and it is odd matching his strained voice with his 'pretty boy' face.
But what makes this DVD an essential purchase for every Mike Oldfield fan are the bonus tracks. Rather than releasing the 1987 VHS release The Wind Chimes on a separate DVD, the record company chose to include the entire thing as a bonus on this DVD. Furthermore there is a 17-minute edit from Tony Palmers 1980 The Space Movie, which uses Mike Oldfield's music as a background to images from various rocket launches and space travel footage.
Finally there is a five-minute interview with Mike Oldfield, which is stretched to nearly 13-minutes by inserting video footage from the DVD. It is a pity there isn't more of his animated talking included, as his anecdotes and views offer great insight to his music.
As the 'newest' video on this collection stems from 1989 it is understandable that the footage looks rather dated. The space race is over, so the footage of The Space Movie may have looked awe-inspiring back in 1980, nowadays it just looks like a cheap B-movie. Many of the promo videos use computer graphics which were groundbreaking back in the eighties, but they aren't even remotely impressive these days. The worst example is the 20-minute The Wind Chimes clip, which consists of computer graphics, animation and modified footage of Balinese dancers. Oh, and Jon Anderson miming to the lyrics of Shine on a beach with his shirt buttoned down isn't a particularly pretty sight either...
Oddly enough the best videos are those of the seventies. The early videos all focused on Oldfield's multi-instrumental skills, so In Dulci Jubilo uses split-screen close-ups of all the instruments that make up the song (all played by Oldfield, of course), while William Tell Overture actually uses trick photography to present 8 Mike Oldfields together as a band. In other videos you simply see Oldfield play a different instrument in every other shot.
The full band live performance of Tubular Bells part 1 is particularly a nice treat, since there are no official live releases of the original Tubular Bells piece. It all looks very serious though, and none of the musicians seem to be enjoying themselves. The way they are scattered around the circular stage is more reminiscent of a sect or communion, rather than a band performance. Also interesting that Oldfield restricts his performance to just bass-guitar and acoustic guitar. All the show-off bits, like the electric guitars or the tubular bells at the end, are left to the other musicians, which include names like Steve Hillage and Pierre Moerlen.
Even this BBC footage suffers from misplaced technological pampering of the footage, as it utilises some sort of seventies version of blue-screen, which results in images being unintentionally projected on guitars, backs, faces and other shiny objects.
So in conclusion, none of the material presented is particularly good, but the collection of everything together makes it a worthwhile purchase.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
Genesis - Live
Shepperton Studios, Borehamwood, UK ~ 30.10.1973 [62.48]: Watcher Of The Skies (8:11), Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (9:33), I Know What I Like (6:05), The Musical Box (12:09), Supper's Ready (26:48)
Midnight Special - NBC Studios, Burbank, CA, USA ~ 20.12.1973 [15:30]: Watcher Of The Skies (7:29), The Musical Box (8:01)
University Sports Arena, Montreal, Canada ~ 20.04.1974 [27:43]: Watcher Of The Skies (6:39), I Know What I Like (4:28), Firth Of Fifth [excerpts] (3:51), Suppers Ready [excerpts] (12:44)
Tracklist: Mama (7:39), Abacab (8:16), The Domino Principle (2:45), Domino Part 1 - In The Glow Of The Night (2:30), Domino Part 2 - The Last Domino (10:27), That’s All (5:01), Brazilian (5:18), Land Of Confusion (6:49), Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (9:01), Throwing It All Away (11:59), Home By The Sea / Second Home By The Sea (11:49), Invisible Touch (5:05), Drum Duet (5:55), Los Endos (6:25), Turn It On Again Medley [Turn It On Again / Everybody Needs (Somebody To Love) / I Can’t Get No Satisfaction / Reach Out And I’ll Be There / You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling / Pinball Wizard / In The Midnight Hour / Turn It On Again] (14:33), Credits [Do The Neurotic] (1:59)
Bonus Material: Tour Documentary (16:33) Photo Library, Tour Programme sections
No doubt that those living in Holland and Belgium will have seen the recent flood of music DVDs in the sales bins of virtually every music store in the country. All these come from a company called Falcon Neue Medien, which seems to specialise in releasing low-budget bootleg-style DVDs.
All these DVDs seem to contain recordings from TV broadcasts and that is where the secret lies: by securing rights from a TV station they can by-pass copyright laws and get away with releasing unauthorised footage - legally!
The titles in the series are a bit of a hit and miss. You can get something of really dodgy quality, with a sound and picture that looks as if you are playing an old VHS tape (I have seen an AC/DC release which was like this) or it could be a very good quality recording of a gig which is not available elsewhere (there is a great Born In The USA-era Springsteen title for instance).
Progwise, there are also a few interesting titles. There is a Pink Floyd harvest disc reviewed elsewhere in this issue, I have seen a Jethro Tull disc and then there are these two Genesis DVDs. Both are entitled Genesis - Live so to distinguish the two I will refer to the year of recording, which is 1973 and 1987 respectively.
Live 1973 is a harvest disc, which contains footage from three different gigs, all in support of the Selling England By The Pound album, so there is an overlap in tracks.
The bulk of the material is taken from the Shepperton Studios gig and this footage is also by far the best. Decent picture quality (though visibly aged) and the sound is ok-ish. It is a pity not the entire gig is included (Cinema Show, The Battle Of Epping Forest, and Firth of Fifth are missing) but it is great to see the whole of Supper's Ready included here, with all the various costume changes. It also contains Peter Gabriel's silly introductions to Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, The Musical Box and Supper's Ready.
Furthermore it is great watching the young band perform. Watching the incredibly young Phil Collins (only 22 at the time) is a real treat, and also knowing that there was a time when Tony Banks actually moved and -lo and behold- smiled onstage, is comforting to know.
The other two concerts that are present are a nice bonus, but are of far worse quality than that of the Borehamwood gig.
The appearance at the NBC studios is well-shot and edited though, with plenty of good close-ups of the instruments being played (rather than the faces of the musicians). It is just a pity that the colours are nearly entirely washed out and everything looks blue-green-ish during Watcher Of The Skies and blue-white-ish during The Musical Box.
The footage from Montreal, Canada has the subtitle "the black show" which is very apt as the footage is incredibly dark. You can see hardly anything of the stage, and all band members are lit in bleak white spotlights. Both Firth of Fifth and Supper's Ready are chopped up, which completely ruins the otherwise great performances. (I actually think the performances itself are better than the other two).
It is a pity that the picture and sound quality of this disc isn't any better. Some of this footage is also included on the excellent
Genesis Songbook DVD, and it looks much better there, so there is a better quality copy in existence. Too bad Genesis doesn't want to release this footage themselves. So until they do, this is the best alternative.
If nothing else this DVD proofs just how good the band The Musical Box is, not only in their design of the stage, but also in nailing every bit of Peter Gabriel's onstage antics.
As one of the very few surviving records of Genesis' live antics this is simply a must-have for every Genesis fan. Oh, and also a nice touch is the DVD menu, which contains rare footage of The Musical Box circa 1971, with Gabriel wearing the infamous fox head and red dress costume.
Live 1987 is taken from the band's gigs at Wembley Stadium in 1987, which has in fact also been released as
Genesis Live At Wembley Stadium, reviewed earlier this year. Now there are more instances where FMN has released concert footage which is also available through other sources, but normally these are low-quality Mpeg versions of the original TV broadcast. This DVD however is an EXACT COPY of the Wembley Stadium DVD, up to and including the DTS soundtrack and the extras. The only difference between the two is the cover and the price.
It seems the rights to this footage are owned by the filming company, and not by either Genesis nor Virgin, so the footage can be licensed to any company that wishes to release it. For review and rating, I refer to Ed's review of the Virgin version of this disc.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
Pink Floyd - A Critical Review 1975-1996
Tracklist: A Critical Review 1975-1996
Bonus Material: Performance of Comfortably Numb by Mostly Autumn
Months after buying this DVD, I found out that it was originally released as the second part of a 2-DVD set, packaged in a hardback book, together with 2 CDs which contain the DVD's soundtrack. The first DVD (which I haven't spotted yet in any shop, other than Classic Rock's website) covers the years 1967-1974. Realizing this, the DVD's subtitle "The Independent Critical Guide" makes a bit more sense. However, do we really need a critical guide to all those classic Floyd albums? Let's see…
This DVD basically runs through the band's major releases, from 1975's classic Wish You Were Here to the release of the live album Pulse in 1995. The story is told by "the critical team", which consists of a number of music writers and journalists, as well as members of Mostly Autumn. Mostly Autumn have always admitted being influenced by Pink Floyd and have performed and recorded a large number of the Floyd's classic hits. Their rendition of Comfortably Numb (which in my opinion could have been played a bit faster to keep it exciting) has been included as a nice bonus. Unfortunately, this is the only bonus feature on the disc.
The film shows footage of the Floyd's performance in Venice during the Delicate Sound of Thunder tour. Clips of this concert are shown throughout the DVD, but unfortunately they only show it in a tiny part of the screen, so you can't see it very well. Besides, the fragments are very short, don't blink your eyes! Maybe it's because of copyright reasons, but this footage could have been better. Other than that, the DVD looks good. Many still photographs of live performances and artwork have been used to accompany the footage.
The critical team discusses all studio albums that were released after Dark Side Of The Moon, as well as The Wall movie and live albums Delicate Sound Of Thunder and Pulse. A number of songs get some extra attention. Mostly Autumn's keyboard player Iain Jennings demonstrates the keyboard chord progressions in Shine On You Crazy Diamond and lead guitarist Bryan Josh talks about chords in Comfortably Numb. I like that, a technical breakdown of a song makes you appreciate the sounds and melodies that you know so well even more.
Not only the music and its meaning are discussed. The famous artwork and images that were used on Animals, The Wall (especially the film version) and Momentary Lapse Of Reason receive good reviews from the team. It's no surprise that all albums get good or outstanding reviews, except The Final Cut from 1983, which to many people (including the critical team apparently) was quite a disappointment after the amazing success of The Wall.
A nice detail is the background music on some parts of the DVD. A number of Pink Floyd songs are played by the Classic Rock String Quartet. Again, these are only snippets. Don't expect to find entire songs on this DVD other than the bonus material. Do not expect many band interviews either: these have been included sparingly.
Despite this, I think the DVD works well as a guide to Pink Floyd's music and career (especially together with the first DVD, I guess). It has been produced quite nicely. Although the packaging promises footage of the concert in Venice, some people will be disappointed because the clips are so short.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
Pink Floyd - Live Anthology
Tracklist: Jugband Blues (UK Central Office Of Information), Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (Live, All My Loving), Interstellar Overdrive (Live, Romeo Goes Pop), Let There Be More Light (Live, Tous En Scene), Flaming (Live, Tous En Scene), It Would Be So Nice (Promo Film 1968), Sysyphus (Tomorrows World 1968), Cymbaline (Live, KQED An Hour With Pink Floyd 1970), A Saucerful Of Secrets (Live, Stamping Ground 1970 ), Atom Heart Mother, Careful With That Axe Eugene (Live, Superstars In Concert 1972), Comfortably Numb (Live, Wall In Concert 1980)
Another release by Falcon Neue Media, this DVD is a collection of archive footage of Pink Floyd. Most (if not all) of the material originates from various TV broadcasts. With the exception of Comfortably Numb all of the material dates from the pre-Dark Side period. As a matter of fact, almost all of the songs originate from the very early years. As such a collection like this can of course hardly be called a representative live anthology. Personally I couldn't care less about the very early Barrett stuff that is present of this DVD and I don't consider tracks like Flaming, It Would Be So Nice, Jugband Blues and Sysyphus to be among the band's most interesting material (to say the least). Then again, from a historical point of view and considering the lack of available footage from the seventies, this is still quite an interesting watch for fans of the early Floyd.
As mentioned, the material is a thrown together bunch of TV material, all of which has without a doubt been heavily traded among Floyd fanatics for years. Some of the footage has the band performing live while others have the band miming in the studio.
As you can imagine, the visual quality of the footage ranges from dreadful to 'okay'. Some of the songs that have the band performing live on stage are of bootleg quality. Nevertheless, considering the origins and age of the material this is something to be expected.
A few words about the some of the individual tracks. Saucerful is actually just the closing section (Celestial Voices) of that epic. A track that is not mentioned on the sleeve and not separately indexed (sloppy !) is a full length non-orchestrated live performance of Atom Heart Mother. This makes it extra interesting for those who have never heard that live version since the sound quality is quite okay. It has to be added though that the footage for this song (which also contains some 'behind the scenes' stuff) and the actual music do not match, making it rather strange to watch.
Highlight for me is the performance of Cymbaline from the good quality KQED broadcast, which even features a bit of the footstep sequence the band used to demonstrate their quadraphonic sound system. Although of dreadful quality, the footage of Comfy Numb from the original Wall shows, with Gilmour performing on top of the wall while Waters acts out the role of the doctor in front of it, is highly interesting as well.
If you are interested in the pre-Dark Side era of Pink Floyd and don't mind the inferior quality of the footage this DVD might well be an interesting buy for you. What makes up for all the flaws discussed above is the price of the item. Shop around though ! I've seen prices vary from 5 tot 30 Euro for this DVD.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
Pink Floyd -
Atom Heart Mother: The Ultimate Critical Review
Tracklist: The Early Years, The Prototype, The Birth of Atom Heart Mother, Father's Shout, Breast Milky, Mother Fore, Funky Dung, Mind Your Throats Please, On to Side Two, The Sleeve (total: 74 minutes)
Bonus Material: Chill Out to the Music of Pink Floyd: Fat Old Sun (5:21), Atom Heat Mother (3:46), The Pink Floyd Chamber Suite (9:08)
This DVD presents a 'rockumentary' about the Pink Floyd's legendary Atom Heart Mother album, which saw the band moving further away from psychedelic doodlings towards lengthy epics with lots of experimenting. Atom Heart Mother was a piece that developed from a handful of riffs (among which the 'Theme from an Imaginary Western') to a long instrumental epic performed live under the name of 'The Amazing Pudding' to a full album side composition which excelled in weirdness by the help of the extravagant Ron Geesin.
Although most of the documentary is quite interesting, there's still a couple of big flaws with this DVD. First of all, although it is a story about a Pink Floyd album and Classic Rock advertises the DVD with the mention that 'we also hear the views of David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason', there's only a minute or so of material with the band members talking about the piece, none of which original to this DVD. What you do get is interviews with Ron Geesin (co-writer of the title track), rock journalists Krusher and Chris Welch (well known for his error-filled book 'Learning to Fly'). If you are wondering why none of the band members are interviewed, well the following note on the Classic Rock Website says it all: Editorial Control: To ensure editorial control, the film is totally unauthorized and has not been authorized or approved by past members or management of the band. As a matter of fact, this is exactly the reason why the label has received so much criticism from press and musicians alike.
The focus is very much on the music, and doesn't really take into account the band members and their situations at the time of the recording at all. As a matter of fact the way Atom Heart Mother links the psychedelic past with the classic/prog rock future of the band is completely ignored. I would have liked to hear some theories on how the title tracks relates to earlier and later conceptual compositions like The Man and the Journey and Echoes. None of that. There's also very little on how the title track evolved from the initial 'Theme from and Imaginary Western' to the pre-recording live rendition (The Amazing Pudding). There is a load of information on what Ron Geesin did with the track afterwards though. Unfortunately, the way the piece is discussed in the interviews is rather technical with all kinds of musical terminology. Interesting, but it makes the DVD a real challenge to watch for non-technical music lovers.
Another flaw is the fact that, while this documentary is supposed to discuss the album, 3/4 of the DVD is about the title track. The other songs are covered in less than 10 minutes and If and Summer '68 are completely ignored. Also, when discussing the different sections of the song, the section titles are incorrect, with Funky Dung being identified as Mother Fore and the whole thing being screwed up from there on, resulting in a lack of a section on Remergence.
Between the interviews we see snippets of live performances of Atom Heart Mother, both in the pre-orchestrated band version as well as the Bath performance with the brass band and choir. The quality of this footage is dodgy to say the least. Although especially the bit that compares the two versions is quite interesting you do get rather fed up with hearing snippets of the piece for almost an hour. What's more, the picture of the band performing on the DVD box with the caption referring to the Bath material on the DVD sleeve is actually a shot from the Animals tour ! What a sloppy piece of work !
Even though the quality of the live footage of the performances of Atom Heart Mother is pretty dreadful, I had hoped that the extra's contained the full, uncut performances. This would probably be more bearable to watch that the multitude of snippets. The extra's that are present on the DVDs are actually just commercials for two other DVDs by Classic Rock featuring cover versions of Pink Floyd material.
Nevertheless, although a flawed effort, some of the footage on the DVD (especially the interviews with Ron Geesin - describing himself as a 'professional nutter' and proving it by showing us his huge collection of adjustable spanners !), make this DVD worth watching for avid Floyd fans who like the pre-Dark Side work of the band. Don't expect the same quality as with the Dark Side of the Moon documentary though.
Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10
The Fromuz - Playing The Imitation (Live)
Tracklist: Intro, From Fromuz, Wax Inhabitants Town, Gameplay Imitation, Remark #12, Spare Wheel, Dual Ad Libitum, Familiarization Results, Harry Heller Theater, Babylon Dreams
The Fromuz will probably be an unknown quantity to many, although some of the band members names may ring a bell with some, as they have been featured within the DPRP reviews pages in different guises. Formed in 2004 by Vitaly Popeloff (guitars) and Andrew Mara-Novik (bass), the bands name is simply derived, (From Uzbekistan), from their country of origin. After their initially writing phase Popeloff and Mara-Novik teamed up with Albert Khalmurzayev (keyboards), and Vladimir Badirov (drums & percussion). No particular formulas were set for the music, although at an early stage it was decided that the music would be wholly instrumental.
Collectively they have produced this live registration which takes much of its inspiration from the jazz fusion field. This said the band have collated their various backgrounds, adding a heavier and darker tone to the proceedings, and along with the percussive input of the excellent Vladimir Badirov the music takes on a distinctive progressive jazz rock styling. The proficiency of the band shines throughout the performance and all four musicians look relaxed and at ease with their parts. Even in the opening track, the surprisingly entitled Intro, Fromuz flow effortlessly through their respective parts.
From Fromuz deviates slightly leaning more on the jazzy side, a time for solo sections, firstly from Popeloff and then both synth and piano solo sections from Khalmurzayev. Badirov is great here, as is Andrew Mara-Novik, who alternates between walking and funkier bass lines. Also a nice touch are the audio samples which permeate the set, giving another dimension to the sound. Tinkling, atmospheric keyboards accompany the somewhat gentler guitar sounds on Wax Inhabitants. Gradually introduced are the percussive rhythms before the track beefs up. The tempo along with the Mellotron sounds and E-bow effect brought to mind some of Steve Hackett's recent live shows.
This moves us into Gameplay Imitation. Again the E-bow sound, initially over a start stop rhythm, which then moves to a more stately pace before finally building to a driving rhythm. It is at this point that the gauze, (used to enhance the stage lighting), which has been in front of the band is pulled to one side. The two band members leave the gauze and peruse the cube that has been "stage centre" for the performance - painted as a dice on five sides and a chess board on the sixth. The DVD/Album deriving its title from this game. The theatrics do not stop here and during Remark #12 Messrs Khalmurzayev, Mara-Novik and Badirov are to be seen seated on stage around a cafe table drinking wine, whilst Mr Popeloff plays a twelve string guitar. A nice interlude which took me back to a Jethro Tull concert.
Back to the main body of the concert and the chunky rhythm of Spare Wheel, complete with funk bass, sequenced sounds, industrial noises and some fine synth themes and guitar soloing. Dual Ad Libitum is the rather lengthy percussion spot for Vladimir Badirov accompanied by wind sounds and an assortment of sound collages and effects courtesy of Vitaly Popeloff and his guitar synth. Now I'm not one for drum/percussion solos in general, but if I have to watch them, then I'd prefer to watch them. One of very few flaws with the DVD is when this solo section is intercut with visuals. I was interested to watch Vladamir and his extensive array of percussion (especially those immersed in water). The camera work is good here so I don't see the need for the intercuts.
From here on in the concert builds in intensity, the guitar chords become heavier and the band really start to cook with odd metering abounding, great solo sections, strong themes and tight arrangements - Familiarization Results is superb example of this. Subtlety is not forsaken though, as displayed by the classical string section the opens Harry Heller Theater and the splendid melodic solo from Vitaly Popeloff.
Considering that the band only came together during 2004, this concert, filmed and recorded on 7th April 2005 at the Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan to an appreciative audience of some 300, is a testament to the abilities of these four musicians. The lighting and stage set are also well thought out, and coupled with the filming utilising ten cameras (six static and four free moving), gives a polished and remarkably well produced DVD. Granted it does not have the gimmickry found in some of today's more lavish band productions, but the intimacy of the event along with the band member close-ups shots and full stage views give this DVD a warmth often missing in this overly produced market. Mention also of the sound, which on my promotional version is offered in stereo only, is crisp and clear and very well mixed. This bodes well for the Playing The Imitation CD, which is also due shortly - the material remains the same for both.
Negotiations are in place for USA and European distribution of both this DVD and the CD, however it would be a little premature of me to say more on this at present, but just keep checking the DPRP News for updates on this. Also there is little on the web regarding The Fromuz at the moment, but some info can be gleaned from the "temporary site" indicated above.
So barring a few minor criticisms with the filming (mainly the static camera angles), this is a splendid DVD and one that should appeal to fans of well executed progressive jazz fusion. This is pretty much top drawer stuff from start to finish and certainly fans of Liquid Tension Experiment and good instrumental music in general should check this out.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10
Echolyn - Stars And Gardens : Volume 4
DVD 1: Sellersville, PA; May 25, 2003: - Texas Dust (5:22), Swingin' The Axe (5:38), The Cheese Stands Alone (6:25), A Little Nonsense (5:55), 1729 Broadway (8:20), My Dear Wormwood (4:23), As The World (6:32), Brittany (11:20), Never The Same [Video] (5:49), Mei (49:26), Shades 2003 (18:04)
DVD 2: Interviews And Extras: Beginnings, Debut, Shades, Suffocating The Bloom, The Sentimental Chain, A Little Nonsense, Memoirs From Between, Cannoning In B Major, ...And Every Blossom, Sony, The Making Of As The World, Break-Up, Cowboy Poems Free, 1729 Broadway, Mei, Stars And Gardens Trailer
Echolyn is an American progressive rock band in which its music is very hard for me to categorise as they are unique. Of course it’s too naïve to say that they are immune from any influence of its predecessors. If I’m asked to do a list of influences to Echolyn music, it probably goes this way: Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis, early Bill Bruford, and Canterbury bands. In a nutshell, the music of Echolyn is a blend of jazz-rock, avant-garde and Canterbury. Their music is dynamic, energetic, melodic, harmonic and rhythmic.
This 2 DVD set contains hours of great intelligent progressive music which every prog rock fan should own. The first DVD captures a full concert from the Sellersville Theater in PA, recorded 25 May 2003, and the second is loads of vintage studio and rehearsal footage, interviews and audio commentary. Watching this DVD is truly rewarding as it contains hours of great shows and great music.
The live set in DVD One contains great performance as I can see each member of the band serves their roles with passion and energy. They seem to be enjoying the show. Texas Dust kicks off the show with Brett Kull’s guitar fills followed with fast tempo music. Ray Weston looks after bass while Tom Hyatt plays percussion. The music turns into quieter passage with a blues touch featuring duo vocals of Ray Weston and Brett Kull. It’s a great opening. Swingin' The Axe continues with slow keyboard work by Chris Buzby followed with Brett Kull’s lap guitar work. There is a bit of technical glitch at the opening part, but it’s OK. The music turns into faster tempo with beautiful riffs produced from Kull’s lap guitar followed with wonderful singing style by Kull and Weston. What a rocking show! Chris Buzby with his energetic keyboard playing style does his backing vocal role in this second track. Brett Kull plays lap guitar solo augmented with keyboard interplay. Well, I can see the band enjoy themselves playing this track. At the end of this track, Weston and Kull communicate in relaxing mood with the crowd. It continues with hard driving rhythm and fast tempo track The Cheese Stands Alone.
A Little Nonsense starts energetically with rapid-fire keyboard punch by Chris Buzby followed with fast tempo music and great choir section that reminds me of Gentle Giant. Tom Hyatt plays his dazzling bass guitar solo augmented by Paul Ramsey’s excellent drumming with unique snare sounds that remind me to Bill Bruford’s style. Chris Buzby performs his solo keyboard right after bass solo. It’s a very attractive live performance. 1729 Broadway starts off with a story telling narration followed with a melodic music composition. Ray Weston sings beautifully here. My Dear Wormwood shows Genesis-influenced music in relatively fast tempo. As The World is a great music composition with complex arrangements in fast tempo. The band performs this track wonderfully. I love the variations that this track offers especially on the part where both Kull and Weston talk simultaneously with each playing different role but creates excellent harmony. The percussion-based song Brittany is preceded with an introduction about the background of the song by Chris, followed with intro part where Tom Hyatt plays his percussion while Kull gives his hand – occasionally and jokingly – as well to the percussion. It’s a nice shot. This complex song is really good combining varieties of solo on guitar, keyboard combined with solid bass lines – this time by Ray Weston as Tom Hyatt looks after the percussion.
The DVD One also showcases a video that features a ballad, the acoustic-based song Never The Same. What really takes me by surprise is the full performance of the band’s concept album Mei in its entirety for approx 50 minutes duration. The band brings in a mini chamber orchestra playing flute, clarinet, violins, cello, and percussion. It's an adventurous performance, I would say. The band performs this long track wonderfully, combining multi passages with many variations among them. For me personally, it’s a rewarding experience watching the show with a real mini chamber orchestra. It reminds me to the YesSymphonic performance even though this one is smaller. I salute the band for this effort. The show concludes with Shades.
DVD Two contains band documentaries including studio and rehearsal footage from the band’s musical career, as well as interviews with the band members where they talk about their first inception, recording of each album, the band’s break-up, and the band’s reformation. Numerous rehearsal & studio footage are being shown. What is interesting is that the band gives some insights with respect to the making of each album. This part is a must see for the Echolyn fans.
Overall, I would recommend you to have this DVD in your progressive music collection – not only due to marvellous performance by the band but also the documentary section in DVD Two is really worth the money you spend. It's wonderfully produced through perfect shot, excellent editing and excellent presentation. The band really wants to present something special to its fans base who have been waiting them for so long to return back in the prog arena.
Conclusion: 9 out of 10
Gongzilla - Live In Concert
Tracklist: Sinister Minister, Haniface, Aquila, Thrive, Liliy, Bad Habits, Drum Solo, Gongzilla, Soli (with bass solo), Image
Bonus Material: Original Theatrical Trailer, A Day In The Studio
Gongzilla revolves around the nucleus of Hansford Rowe (bass), Benoît Moerlen (marimba-vibes) and Bon Lozaga (guitar) and as the bands name will indicate can be traced back directly to the late 70s and to Pierre Moerlen's Gong. The Gongzilla project however stems from the mid 90s, producing several studio and live recordings. Suffer from '95 which also featured Gong guest guitarist Allan Holdsworth, Thrive from '96, Live '01 and the East Village Sessions '03. Joining the band for the recording of Thrive was much in demand drummer Gary Husband, who has been fairly constant ever since and appears on the DVD of the band captured live at the Regent Theatre, Boston on 27th June 2003. The line-up is augmented by percussionist Phil Kester and moe guitarist Chuck Garvey.
The early sections of the DVD are filmed almost like a "rockumentary" with footage of the band on stage, intercut with dialogue from some the band members and also brief overlays of the original theatrical trailer and sections from the studio sessions. Some may find this a little irritating, however in general I thought it worked quite well and wasn't overdone.
Musically for Gongzilla we should look to the band coming from a jazz fusion stand point, however this is nicely enhanced with some good grooves and atmospheric passages. I would also like to interject the notion of the "jam band" to the proceedings. The free flowing, languid grooves being reminiscent of many of the (re)-emerging exponents in this field. Perhaps this idea was triggered by the inclusion of moe guitarist Chuck Garvey. The music in general doesn't rise to the intensity of those legendary exponents of the jazz fusion field, but this would appear to be intentional, and therefore Benoît's vibraphone playing gels well within the music - never lost - often understated, but always integral. As is the percussion work from Phil Kester which nicely compliments the music and fuses well with Husband's drumming.
The main focus however of the DVD revolves around Lozaga, Hansford and Husband. Gary Husband's energetic playing adds great impetus to the material with the often grooving playing of Hansford giving a strong backbone to the pieces. Bon Lozaga's role is slightly different than perhaps many other guitarists within the jazz fusion field. He seems quite prepared to allow the music to flow and ebb and I found much of his textured guitar work nicely understated. This isn't to imply that he doesn't indulge in any guitar extravaganzas, but merely pointing out that the music of Gongzilla isn't just a guitarfest. The empathy between the musicians is what makes the music gel here. I have to say that I was a tad wary of this DVD, not being overly fond of PM's Gong, however I found the music although related in some respects, generally much more cohesive.
The bulk of the material featured comes from the band's first album (three tracks), with one piece from Thrive, four selections from the East Village Sessions and finally Gong's Soli taken from Expresso II (1978). One of the stand-out tracks along with the brief Gongzilla, Mr Sinister Minister and Aquila
I did struggle with the tracklisting though and the actual running order of the concert. Now I'm not fully conversant with all the band's material, so it maybe me, and as all the tracks are instrumentals there is little in the way of help if you don't know the material well. But I made track seven to be Soli (noticeable by the fact it had a bass solo attached). At which point the band leave the stage and the next track is in fact Gary Husband's drum solo. A minor point and one that didn't particularly detract from the DVD.
The DVD is shot using five cameras and pretty much captures the band in situ. The editing is kept relatively simple, so the focus remains on the band. There are some split screen effects employed, which works well in Gary Husband's drum solo, along with some intercutting of the studio recordings. The only thing that particularly bothered me was the slight blurring or fragmentation around those objects that moved fast. Not a problem with the band members, although close-ups of Gary Husband's drum sticks and Benoît Moerlen's mallets had this "effect" throughout. Again not a major problem - more an observation.
Now the bonus material - normally an area that does little for me! The Original Theatrical Trailer is in fact exactly what the title says - a trailer for the DVD. We see footage of the equipment going into the theatre, chat with the band prior to the gig, Benoît having a hair cut (riveting) and chatting to people outside the venue about the concert. A Day In The East Village Studio is slightly more interesting although I doubt I would watch it more than I already have. Again as the title suggests the band are in the studio "nailing" one of the tracks.
Is there are a better take? There always is $$$
Many will be aware of the growing popularity of the so called "jam bands" and in recent times these bands have received something of resurgence. Not that these bands are a particularly new phenomenon, but merely that their popularity is on the up. Bands like moe, Umphrey's Mcgee are now receiving greater distribution and attracting a much larger audiences. Now I might be a little misleading putting Gongzilla under the "jam band" banner, but certainly I felt that their brand of free flowing, mainly improvised, jazz fusion pieces would nicely fit under this umbrella.
A good DVD and a nice insight into the band.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
Steve Howe - Remedy Live
Tracklist: Small Acts Of Human Kindness, Sensitive Chaos, Country Viper, Diary Of A Man Who Vanished, Across The Cobblestone, America/Southern Solo, The Nature Of The Sea, Where I Belong, Pennants, Excerpt From "Close To The Edge", So Bad, Lost Symphony, While Rome's Burning, Raga/My White Bicycle, Würm
Steve Howe "Acoustic": Excerpt From "The Ancient", J's Theme, Mood For A Day, Second Initial, To Be Over, Intersection Blues, The Clap
Steve Howe Remedy Tour Story
Ever since I bought my first Yes album, which was Close To The Edge, I have been a huge Yes fan. I still feel that they are one of the best progressive rock bands ever and I have seen them so many times alive I really cannot remember how often; it must be at least a hundred times….. The sound of Yes has always been dominated by the exceptional voice of Jon, the driving bass riffs of Chris, the heavenly keys by Rick and the typical guitar sound of Steve. Although I must confess that I always considered Steve Howe to be the weakest link in the band. His guitar playing technique is of course excellent, but the sound of his instrument and the rather typical solos always sounded a bit out-of-date to me. That is probably the reason that I never was interested in his solo material. During live gigs I loathed the time when Steve picked up his acoustic guitar and played horrible songs like Clap and Mood For A Day, although on the other hand that acoustic interval always gave me the opportunity to fetch some drinks or go to the toilet…..
So, the special featured acoustic set on this DVD is something which I really do not like, especially if I hear how super Yes tracks like To Be Over (from Relayer) and The Ancient (from Tales From Topographic Oceans) are "transformed" into meaningless acoustic guitar picking songs! Other "horrible" songs are the super redundant Clap and Mood For A Day, the only song from the fabulous Yessongs which I always skip!
The "Tour Story" shows interviews, rehearsal moments and backstage footage and is filmed during the European Tour of 2004, and I am sorry to say that it is not really interesting as I have seen so many of these Tour Stories before, and well if you have seen one, you have seen them all, I think?
The Live show features a length live concert with the following band: Steve Howe (guitar & vocals), Ray Fenwick (guitar), Virgil Howe (keyboards), Derrick Taylor (bass guitar) and Dylan Howe (drums). Most of the songs are played rather well, featuring those typical Howe guitar solos, as I know them from Yes. The songs are picked from old and new albums, so you can enjoy Diary Of A Man Who Vanished (1975) and also new tracks like Across The Cobblestone (2003) or Small Acts Of Human Kindness which is from the album Skylines and that one was released in 2002. Best song of this set is without any doubt Wurm, which is of course the last part of the Yes classic Starship Trooper, a song that can be found on The Yes Album (1971). The excerpt from Close To The Edge also sounded attractive, but it turned out to be a dragging acoustic song…….
The performance of the band is rather static, nothing happens on stage, so it is a kind of boring DVD to watch and when Steve decides to do some singing, it even gets worse. I can only recommend this DVD to pure and fanatic Steve Howe fans, so not suitable for die-hard Yesfans!
I hadn't particularly considered reviewing this DVD from Steve Howe, however there was something that nagged at me when I first watched it through - something was very familiar, almost as if I had been at the concert. Then there was our recent Round Table Review of Steve's Spectrum album, which I participated in, and so once again I was drawn in by Steve's passion for the guitar, amply demonstrated in Spectrum and once again on this DVD.
So what was it that nagged at me about this concert, prompting this review. Well when I first started to watch this DVD, and as the camera scanned around the largely seated, well behaved and distinctly balding audience, I wondered if the audience actually followed Steve around, as they looked uncannily like those at the concert I went to during 2004. However it was not until about half way through the DVD when one of the audience shouts out "Steve Howe is God", that things started to drop into place. My first reaction was - he's not at this concert as well, surely. I remembered this distinctly, as in fact I have heard this particular voice over the years at Yes concerts in my local haunt in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Closer inspection of the stage confirmed it was the same concert filmed at the Opera House. What was nice on the DVD was to hear Steve's retort - "can I have that in writing", and Virgil's quipp "and I am the son of God".
So to the concert, which really was a sit down and watch affair, no flashing lights or pyrotechniques here, just subtle colour washes reflecting the mood of the songs. The band, as Martien points out, are fairly static throughout - Dylan was probably the most animated and he was seated. The DVD opens with Small Acts Of Human Kindness taken from Skyline. This sets the tone for the concert - a fairly gentle mid paced piece - with the first of Steve's array of guitars, a red Strat, on display - actually I liked the tone Steve got from this guitar (maybe he should use it more often). A similar vibe is continued through Sensitive Chaos, before the band move more in to the country rock field with Country Viper and Diary Of A Man Who Vanished.
Elements provides us with the first of the vocal tracks. Now it may be open to debate whether or not Steve Howe is "God" when it comes to the guitar, but when it comes to the singing, he is no angel. In Across The Cobblestone, they are bearable, however America and the excerpt from Close To The Edge will do little to trouble Jon Anderson's career.
The concert DVD meanders through selections of tracks from Steve Howe's solo career interspersed with Yes classics. His influence on Yes and Asia are clearly evident in some of the compositions. As to be expected Steve takes up most of the solo passages, although Ray Fenwick comes to front during the catchy Lost Symphony, whilst Dylan adds a drum solo to So Bad - appreciated by the audience and a nodding approval from his father in the wings.
The concert encores come in the form of Raga/My White Bicycle, which as to be expected opens with Steve playing his guitar effected by a sitar sound, before we move into the ever popular, at least with Mr Howe, My White Bicycle. This has been a firm favourite in his live solo sets for many years now. The DVD concludes with another favourite, this time from the Yes camp and in the form of Würm. Greeted with great delight by the audience, although I have to admit this isn't one of Yes' classics - for me.
So to the bonus material and firstly the Steve Howe Acoustic section, familiar to many a Yes fan. However contrary to Martien, I have always enjoyed Steve's acoustic playing or his solo section within the Yes live set. I should qualify this by stating from the off that I am extremely fond of solo classical and acoustic guitar music. And this is certainly an area that Steve Howe excels in - personally I prefer his acoustic work to that of his electric playing. Steve is as relaxed and enthusiastic as ever as he plucks his way through Yes classics Mood For A Day and Clap, as well as acoustic excerpts from To Be Over and The Ancient.
That is the beauty of our Duo Reviews - same material, contrasting view points. However I'm in total agreement when it comes to the "Tour Story", like Martien says "if you have seen one, you have seen them all". Mildly interesting as a once only thing. But as this is bonus material it would be somewhat harsh of me to make this into a negative for the DVD. One for Howe fans and Yes completists, me thinks.
Daniel Gauthier - The Wish
Tracklist DVD: The Wish, The Wish
Tracklist CD: The Wish
No I haven't made a mistake with the tracklisting, this DVD/CD package from Daniel Gauthier really does contain only one track. Two differently filmed live versions appear on the DVD and the same track is then played on the CD. Initially I had thought that this was a promo intended to introduce the band and as such it would have served this purpose well. However a visit to the website tells me that the DVD/CD set is available for sale as a Limited Edition.
The Wish is the title track from the new studio album from Daniel Gauthier and sees him teaming up once again of Gaston Gagnon (electric guitar), Bruno Dubé (drums & percussion). Daniel (bass, acoustic, keyboards and vocals) completes the line-up, which has remained the same from the band's 2000 release Above The Storm.
Musically we are firmly rooted in Yes territory - after the atmospheric intro the track features a fairly lengthy, twisting instrumental section. The tempo is driving and gives the band members time to display their musical abilities. The track is driven by Dubé's drumming, Gauthier's Chris Squire inspired bass work, and Gagnon's melodic guitar work interspersed with some Wakeman-esque keyboard fills via Mr Gauthier. The track then drifts into the vocal section with acoustic guitar and layered voices. Again the vocal arrangement has Yes springing to mind.
The live footage is well filmed and the editing and special effects are very good, especially if you consider that this is an independent release. However I found this DVD/CD set a little ill conceived. The packaging, artwork and presentation of the disc are of a high quality and the music is fine. But with just under six minutes of music offered, albeit presented on the DVD in two differently shot forms, I can't see that this package does enough to warrant its purchase. With shipping costs the overall price is perhaps a little high and I can well imagine the impoverished prog buyer wanting to spend his money elsewhere.