03/24/06
Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

We’ve tuned in and turned on an impressive array of rock 'n' roll and other pop culture nostalgia on DVD over the last week or so -- including a pair of never-before-available live concert videos as well as the four-disc Comic Legends installment in the Dick Cavett Show series.


Lynyrd Skynyrd -- Gimme Back My Bullets [Deluxe Edition] (Geffen/UMe)

Universal Music enterprises (UMe) continues to practically re-invent the reissue with their multimedia upgrades. The latest title to get Deluxe Edition treatment is Lynyrd Skynyrd's fourth long player, Gimmie Back My Bullets (1976). In honor of its 30th Anniversary, the nine-song album -- which yielded Skynyrd staples "Double Trouble," "Cry For The Bad Man," and the title-track "Gimmie Back My Bullets" -- has been significantly overhauled.

Listeners are now treated to a previously unearthed live take of "I Got The Same Old Blues," recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show in November of 1975. This same date yielded "Double Trouble," which first surfaced on the Lynyrd Skynyrd (1991) box set. Those two performances join exemplary readings of "Gimmie Back My Bullets" and "Cry For The Bad Man," recorded at Winterland Arena, San Francisco in March of '76. For those keeping track, the two San Fran cuts were issued on the 1997 expanded CD release of Gimmie Back My Bullets.

Sound meets vision on the second disc as Skynyrd's November '75 appearance on BBC2 TV's Old Grey Whistle Test can be seen (and heard) in its entirety. They were fresh from headlining their first European tour and the tight synergy that they bring to the small but raucous British studio audience is palpable. In addition to a few new songs, Skynyrd crank out fan favorites such as "I Ain't The One," which is presented in a non-stop medley with the opener "Double Trouble." Among the other classics are their cover of J.J. Cale's "Call Me The Breeze," the iconoclastic Southern Rock anthem "Sweet Home Alabama," and the literally show-stopping "Free Bird." In fact, devout enthusiasts might consider the latter as the pinnacle of the entire project. I do and would recommend it to any and all interested parties.

Whitesnake -- Live...In The Still of the Night (Hip-O/UMe)

This package is available as a DVD-only or in a 'Special Collector's Edition' with an accompanying full-length bonus CD. Either way, the contents of the two-hour plus video program and audio CD were culled from the combo's October '04 Hammersmith Apollo [note: formerly the Hammersmith Odeon] gigs. Whitesnake frontman -- and primary mainstay in Whitesnake's revolving-door personnel -- David Coverdale may be visibly showing signs of age but his pipes remain as strong and commanding as ever.

He leads what is essentially an all-star backing band. That instrumental support comes from former House Of Lords member Doug Aldrich (guitar), one-time Winger and Dokken fretman, Reb Beach (guitar) Marco Mendoza from Thin Lizzy (bass), Timothy Drury (bass), who has played with Don Henley, Stevie Nicks and others, and finally one-time Ozzy Osbourne drummer Tommy Aldridge.

Despite leaning heavily on '80s hair metal anthems such as "Is This Love," "Here I Go Again," "Still Of The Night, " and "Fool For Your Lovin'," the performance overall packs plenty of wallop from every era of not only Whitesnake, but even a revival of his days in Deep Purple during the coupling of "Burn" and "Stormbringer" that open the festivities. Other vintage Whitesnake titles worth mentioning are "Crying In The Rain," "Bad Boys," "Don't Break My Heart Again," and reaching way back, "Take Me With You," circa 1978's Trouble album.

Director/producer Jim Parsons -- whose resume also includes working with U2, Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- keeps things moving with tricky camera angles that provide visuals as energetic as the music on stage. Plus, the entire visual proceedings were shot and mastered in true 1080/24PsF High Definition. In terms of audio quality: the stereo, 5.1 SRS Circle Surround, 5.1 Multi-channel, or the 5.1 DTS playback option do a commendable job of bringing the soundtrack to life.

The Dick Cavett Show -- Comic Legends (Shout! Factory)

The increasingly impressive pop culture mavens at Shout! Factory continue their collaboration with talk show host extraordinaire Dick Cavett for their first non-music related package. As the title implies, Comic Legends gathers a dozen complete and unedited programs starring some of the funniest ladies and gentlemen of the 20th century.

Before his days in front of the camera, Cavett actually wrote monologue jokes for late night TV giants Jack Paar and Johnny Carson. However, it was during his short-lived career as a stand-up comedian in the first part of the 1960s, that he would develop his unique delivery style, perfectly complementing the likes of Woody Allen and Bill Cosby -- both of whom are featured here in multiple appearances.

Cosby and Allen are among those to have entire shows dedicated to them as the sole guest. Joining them on this assemblage are Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball. Yet it is the intimate camaraderie between Cavett and Groucho Marx that remains iridescently funny some thirty-plus years on. The ever eclectic nature of the guest pairings likewise set Cavett apart from his fellow talk show moderators. Notable are the line-up of Woody Allen with actresses Ruth Gordon and Gina Lollobrigida or Jack Benny, Bill Cosby and Joe Frazier -- the latter having recently been dethroned as heavyweight champion by George Forman. Better still is the surreal convergence of Groucho -- who seems to think that he is the one hosting -- with Truman Capote and animal expert Jim Fowler. It must been seen to be believed.

As they have done on earlier box sets, Shout! Factory and Cavett have scoured the vaults for extra promos. They've even filmed new introductions and mini-documentaries such as "Cavett Remembers The Comic Legends" and "Cavett Backstage". In addition, there is other rare footage, including a spot on Ed Sullivan circa 1966 and an interview with Johnny Carson's then-wife Joanne Carson from two years later. The best of the bonuses is a 1968 episode of Here's Dick Cavett with an all-star cast of comedians from his daytime chat program with Groucho, Woody, Bob Hope, Pat McCormick and Jack Burns all on the roster.

 


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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