Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

This week let's go globe trottin' with a little something for every musical taste. And while we're at it, we'll catch up on a virtual audio-visual cornucopia of recent music DVD releases.

Ginger Baker -- In Africa (Eagle Vision)

In late 1971, after having considerable success as a percussionist in the supergroups Cream and Blind Faith, Ginger Baker abandoned his rock 'n' roll royalty status. He bought one of the first civilian Range Rovers ever manufactured and drove himself across Africa. This roughly hour-long film -- produced by noted cinematic documentarian Tony Palmer -- captures the drummer as he faces a multitude of trials and tribulations throughout his sojourn across the Sahara. While there, he wants to establish a professional facility for local artists to make their own recordings.

During the journey, Baker comes in contact with the rich, powerful and all-too-oft corrupt side of Nigeria, which is starkly contrasted by the devastating poverty and social squalor of the residents. Ironically, these oppressive living conditions became the breeding ground for some of the planet's most liberating music. Evidence can be seen, heard and felt here during a high velocity encounter with African talking-drummers from Oshogbo. There is also a very early appearance from Fela Kuti, with whom Baker draws a particularly strong kinship. In fact, the pair documented the groundbreaking Fela With Ginger Baker Live! (1971) around the same time.

Eventually, Baker did set up shop in Lagos and one luminary to have worked there was Paul McCartney, who created Band On The Run (1973) there.

Johnny Cash -- In Ireland (Mercury/UMe)

Though failing health kept him off the road more often than not in his latter years, Johnny Cash is in fine form throughout this February 11, 1993 performance -- filmed at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin for Irish TV. Here we find the Man in Black joined by an extended edition of the Carter Family Revue, along with special guest Kris Kristofferson.

As was a trademark of Cash concerts, the show is wall-to-wall classics. From right out of the starting gate, The Carter Family kick things off in high gear with "Daddy Sang Bass" and "Keep On The Sunny Side". And the hits just keep on coming as Cash and company unleash a torrent of essential Americana with "Ring Of Fire," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Get Rhythm," "I Still Miss Someone," "A Boy Named Sue" and "Ghost Riders In The Sky." His duets with wife June Carter Cash on "Jackson" and Kris Kristofferson during "Big River" and "Long Black Veil" are as good as it gets, making In Ireland a must-own for all manner of Cash enthusiasts.

Audiophiles have their choice of a soundtrack in a standard 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo mix, Dolby 5.1 or DTS Surround Sound.

Europe -- Live in Sweden: The Final Countdown Tour 1986 (MVD Visuals)

Swedish-based rockers Europe had established a following for themselves throughout their homeland by the time that their third LP The Final Countdown (1986) jettisoned the hair metal mavens into multi-platinum sellers and international chart-toppers. This disc commemorates the 20th anniversary of that album with a 13-song concert in Stockholm on May 26, 1986.

The show kicks off with (what else) the anthemic title track "The Final Countdown" before blazing through other key LP sides such as "Rock The Night," "Ninja," "Cherokee," "Time Has Come," and "On The Loose." One specific standout is their note-perfect reading of the power ballad "Carrie". The audio is offered in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo or a beefy 5.1 mix that puts the listener up on stage right beside the boys. The visuals are similarly worth noting as even after two decades the image has retained a remarkable crispness and is presented in a widescreen format.

Augmenting the live performances are a handful of extras, including newly-filmed interviews with band members and a mini-documentary following the combo as they revisit Powerplay Studios -- the scene of the crime, so to speak, where The Final Countdown was created. The slide gallery is packed with never-before-published pix and is sonically supported by the sole unreleased outtake from The Final Countdown sessions, an instrumental titled "Where Men Won't Dare."

The Pixies -- Club Date: Live at the Paradise in Boston (Eagle Vision)

The unexpected reunion of The Pixies took the music world by pleasant surprise. On this DVD, our alt-rock heroes and heroine are bringing it all back home to the cozy confines of Beantown's Paradise club. The August 8, 2005 gig was billed as a 'secret show' and a gathered mass of about 200 were treated to this intense 29-song set.

They slam, careen and glide through classic after classic, getting to an auspicious start with "La La Love You," and the far-too-rarely revisited remake of Neil Young's "Winterlong". Filling out the show is "Caribou," "Vamos," "Isla de Encanta" and "Nimrod's Son" from the Come On Pilgrim (1987) EP as well as "Bone Machine," "Something Against You," "Broken Face," "Gigantic," "River Euphrates," and "Where Is My Mind?" from the follow-up Surfer Rosa (1988).

Other fan favorites found within are "Monkey Gone To Heaven," "Wave Of Mutilation," "Sad Punk," "Hey," "Debaser," and "In Heaven". Incidentally, the latter two are rooted in     avant-garde cinema as "Debaser" references the Luis Buñuel film Un chien andalou (1929), while "In Heaven" is from the David Lynch masterpiece Eraserhead (1977).

The bonus material on Club Date: Live At The Paradise In Boston provides an appropriate contrast with an amateur-shot show circa October of '86. Although a bit rough around the edges, the footage reveals a very young and extremely hungry band as they slash and burn through several selections that aren't repeated on the main program, including "Holiday Song," "I'm Amazed," "Rock-A-My Soul," "Ed Is Dead," "Build High," "Boom Chick-A-Boom" and "Down To The Well".

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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