11/18/05
Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

As the holiday season is drawing ever closer, the multi-media labels have once again shifted into overdrive, and we're going to do our best to keep up. On our plate this week is a feast for the ears and eyes with a digital cornucopia of audio and video DVDs.


The Dick Cavett Show -- John & Yoko Collection (Shout! Factory)

This is the third part in Shout! Factory's ongoing Dick Cavett Show series. As has been the case with the previous two instalments, The John & Yoko Collection presents a trio of complete unedited programmes. For the first of the three, John Lennon and Yoko Ono are the sole guests for the entire 90 minutes. In addition to chatting it up with Cavett, the pair also brought along cinematic shorts to accompany the songs "Imagine" and "Mrs. Lennon." Plus they show excerpts from the more experimental films Fly and Erection.

The second telecast contains segments that had been taped, but not initially broadcast. One highlight is a candid Q&A session with the studio audience in which Lennon is asked about his own drug use, Yoko's role in breaking up the Beatles, and Yoko fields a very pointed inquiry regarding overpopulation. Other guests that evening were legendary satirist Stan Freberg and Robert Citron from the Smithsonian Institute.

On their final appearance, John & Yoko brought along the Elephant's Memory band to accompany on Lennon's "Woman Is The Nigger Of The World," and Ono's "We're All Water." Also on the bill is actress Shirley MacLaine, who shares a few verbal spars with Lennon. The bonus featurette "Cavett And The Lennons," allows Cavett to provide some behind the scenes stories, as well as re-emphasize the historical context and import that John & Yoko held in the early 1970s.

George Harrison & Friends -- The Concert For Bangladesh (Apple Films)

If any project has ever been worthy of a complete sonic and visual overhaul, The Concert For Bangladesh is most definitely it. Disc One of the double DVD set contains a thoroughly remastered version of the original theatrical release. The difference between this incarnation compared to the formerly available VHS tape and LaserDisc is stunning. The images are crisp, the colours are vibrant and modern digital restoration techniques now allow for a much deeper focus. This ultimately reveals subtle details that were previously undetectable.

Equally impressive are the new stereo and Surround Sound audio derived from the multi-track tapes. With all due respect to Phil Spector -- who produced the original soundtrack -- these modern revisions are an infinite improvement. With the layers of Spector's infamous 'Wall Of Sound' stripped away, the instruments and vocals are clear and their placement in the soundscape significantly redefined.

Disc Two is chocked full of special features, such as the 45 minute "Concert For Bangladesh Revisited" documentary with newly gathered interviews from primary participants Eric Clapton, Jim Keltner, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Ravi Shankar, Ringo Starr and Klaus Voormann. There are also shorter mini-docs covering the "Making Of The Film," "Making Of The Album," "The Original Artwork," and first-person "Recollections Of August 1st, 1971." The icing on the cake includes never-before-seen footage of Leon Russell leading the band through a rehearsal of "Come Into My Kitchen," along with Bob Dylan's "If Not For You" and "Love Minus Zero/No Limit."

DEVO -- Live 1980 (Music Video Distributors)

We've been meaning to turn readers on to this Devo DualDisc -- with a video DVD on one side and an audio CD on the other -- for a while now. But hey, better late than never, right? Spudheads have reason to rejoice over the unleashing of Live 1980 as it presents the band in support of their Freedom of Choice (1980) album. The combo are in their prime and modern audiences can see and hear the full-length set, exactly the way it went down at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, California August 17, 1980.

Actually, the DVD experience is probably better thanks to the 5.1 Surround Sound. Fan favorites "Whip It," "Planet Earth," "Swelling Itching Brain," "Freedom of Choice," "Jocko Homo," Smart Patrol," "Mr. DNA," and of course the "Devo Corporate Anthem" are joined by inspired cover versions of classic rock oldies "Secret Agent Man" and "(I Cant Get No) Satisfaction." The DVD side also boasts footage of the Devo spin-off project, Dove -- The Band Of Love, who disguised themselves as Christian rockers. They perform "Praying Hands" and "Shrivel Up," at the M80 Festival.

Journey -- Live in Houston 1981 (Columbia Music Video/Legacy)

When Journey set out on the road in support of the Escape (1981) album, the Bay Area quintet were hot off the heels of their previous multi-platinum double-LP Captured (1980). As fate would have it. the Escape tour just so happened to coincide with the launch of MTV some three months earlier. So, the marriage of the hottest rock group in the country with the newborn pop music-oriented cable network must have been something of a no-brainer.

Nearly a quarter-century later, that entire concert has been resurrected and restored for a unique two-disc package. Audio of the complete performance -- plus the 'bonus track' "The Party's Over (Hopelessly In Love)" from the same show -- are on the CD. The DVD not only provides a perfect visual accompaniment of the original 70+ minute MTV broadcast, but the impressive and realistic 5.1 Surround Sound will put you front row centre at the Summit in Houston, Texas.

As might be anticipated, Journey draws heavily from the Escape long player with key cuts "Open Arms," "Who's Cryin' Now," "Don't Stop Believin'," "Stone In Love," "Keep On Runnin'," "Dead Or Alive," "Mother, Father" and the title song "Escape" scattered throughout a hit-laden set that also includes "Lights," "Wheel In The Sky," "Lovin' Touchin', Squeezin'," and "Anyway You Want It."


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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