05/31/05
Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

We're back manning the multi-media machine that is As The Disc Spins with three CD/DVD packages. As always, we've got something for a wide array of tastes, ranging from the Godfathers of Kraut Rock to the one-time Police man, Sting.


Faust -- Impressions (Music Video Distributors /Euroralph)

While certainly not a household name by any stretch of the imagination, over the past three-plus decades Faust have established themselves as arguably the most successful German import in the progressive and experimental avant-garde rock scene. For their debut DVD, co-founder Werner "Zappi" Diermaier has assembled an 11-cut collection containing material spanning 1971 to 1994. To satisfy ardent enthusiasts, Diermaier even included the previously unreleased "Irena," "Ice Rain" and "Listen." While some purists may call it blasphemy, he has also added new aural enhancements to several of the pieces. However, those who love the older sides will revel in the encroaching, practically paranoid feel of "Waiting For Eternity," or the aforementioned "Ice Rain.” These are made all the more impressive with Diermaier's copious incorporation of a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround soundtrack.

Turning from audio to optical, the visual presentation is an appropriately loose collage of vintage home-movies, altered still images and effects that careen by in a rapid whir. This sensory overload is undeniably engaging, at least initially. Long before the end however, viewers might liken themselves to the "Alex" character from Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971). In particular the scene when his eyelids are wired open as he’s forced to watch a barrage of mile-a-minute incongruous pictures. On the other side of the coin, its almost amateurish characteristics make it quaintly endearing and ultimately memorable. In this way, Impressions contrasts the vast majority of direct-to-consumer music video DVDs that are good for, at best half-a-dozen viewings before they begin to gather dust and/or take up precious shelf space. Personally, the biggest letdown has to be continuing the wait for a DVD dedicated to either a definitive band documentary or an archival live concert performance. Interested parties should note that early pressings of Impressionsare housed with a bonus CD containing “four original soundtracks” from Diermaier’s forthcoming I Spin solo DVD project.


Goldfinger -- The Best of Goldfinger (Mojo/Jive/Legacy)

Has it really been ten years since the formation of the Los Angeles-based quartet that featured former Electric Love Hogs member John Feldmann (guitar/vocals), who joined forces with Darrin Pfeiffer (drums), Simon Williams (bass/vocals) and Charlie Paulson (guitar) to form the alt-core ska sensation, Goldfinger? It certainly has been and to celebrate, Legacy has teamedupwith the band for this double CD compilation.

The audio CD boasts 17 sides gleaned primarily but not exclusively from the Finger's long players: Goldfinger (1996), Hang-Ups (1997), Darrin's Coconut Ass Live (1999), Stomping Ground (2000) and Open Your Eyes (2002). Additionally, there is a healthy sampling of rare and hard-to-find cuts. Primary among them are an overhaul of " Rio," from the Duran Duran Tribute Album (1997), the post-9/11 homage "The Innocent" -- previously only available on the MP3.com website to benefit the Humane Society of New York -- and the soundtrack contributions "Hopeless," used in the film BASEketball (1998) as well as "Vintage Queen," from the first instalment of American Pie (1999).

The DVD presents a chronology of promotional MTV-style videos for the songs "Here In Your Bedroom," "Mabel," "This Lonely Place," "Counting The Days" and a cover of the new wave hit "99 Red Balloons," containing a verse sung in Nena's native German. Plus a pair of live shots from a 2003 show at the House Of Blues on "Spokesman" and "Stay." As if that wasn't enough, there is bonus footage a-plenty. The Best Of Goldfinger (2005) likewise traces the various personnel shifts as Williams’ was replaced with Kelly Lemieux (bass) – who just so happened to be one of Feldmann's Electric Love Hog cohorts – and the substitution of Brian Arthur (guitar) who stepped in when Paulson called it quits in 2001. Trust me, you don't have to be a skater-punk or head-banger to enjoy the hyper-fuelled fun of Goldfinger and this anthology is the perfect place for both the uninitiated and hard-core fan to 'get' the Finger … so to speak.

Sting -- Bring On The Night (A&M/Universal Home Video)

For those of us eagerly anticipating the DVD edition of this rockumentary, the wait is finally over. The two-plus hour film was artfully crafted by Director Michael Apted, whose work includes such luminous projects as Coal Miner's Daughter (1980), Gorky Park (1983) and Gorillas In The Mist (1988), among countless others. For nine consecutive days, he followed Sting (bass/vocals) and his hand-picked all-star support combo -- Omar Hakim (drums), Kenny Kirkland (piano), Darryl Jones (bass), Branford Marsalis (sax) and backing vocalists Dolette McDonald and Janice Pendarvis -- capturing their frenetic energy from the rehearsal halls, all the way to the premier performances that were held at the Théâtre Mogador in Paris. Of course with any endeavour of this nature, there are plenty of mini-dramas along the way. One such incident is the unexpected arrival of Sting and Trudy Styler's son Jake, who happened to arrive on the second day of the run.

The high-definition digital anamorphic widescreen transfer is simply stunning. It is sonically supported by a flawlessly remastered audio track that is accessible in Dolby 2.0 and 5.1 Surround as well as a dts digital surround option, for inclined parties. There are also a bundle of bonuses, such as the videos for "Bring On The Night," "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" and "Russians." Viewers can also watch the original 1986 cinematic trailer or listen to radio advertisements, while flipping through the copious photo gallery. I dare say that even folks who normally don't care for either Sting or music-related documentaries will be impressed, as Apted perfectly captures the musicians' moods, wit and camaraderie. Not to mention, the music ain't too shabby, either. Speaking of which, the similarly titled double CD set has been given a boost of its own and is available separately. While the tunes are interspersed throughout the movie, hearing unedited versions of the "Bring On The Night/When The World Is Running Down Make The Best Of What's Still Around" medley, "Low Life," the intimate rendering of "Fortress Around Your Heart," "Love Is The Seventh Wave," "Another Day," "Consider Me Gone," "Driven To Tears," "We Work The Black Seam," "I Burn For You," "Children's Crusade" and "I Been Down So Long" are but a few of the zeniths that can be found on both.


Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist and technical producer at WBT AM/FM in Charlotte, NC. He is a regular contributor to All Music Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and Gaston Gazette. Comments and questions can be sent to <asthediscspins@earthlink.net>.
 
 

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