It’s one of those dreary April days and the game is rained out, the barbecue is cancelled and renting another dumb movie from Blockbuster (if they are still around by the time you read this) has gotten pretty old. So, what to do? The following are some great music DVDs and CDs that come with DVDs that will make even the cloudiest day (or night) fun.
The newest box-set of music performances from the Ed Sullivan Show, Ed Sullivan’s Rock & Roll Classics (Sofa), is the best yet. Produced as a documentary of the time period (1950s through 1970s), the seven-disc set includes full-length performances of the greatest artists of the era. In addition to including every historic appearance of the Beatles on the show, each disc is categorized by various music genres and time periods. The video quality and 5.1 sound mix are excellent given that these are television performances that are at least 40 years old. The perfect companion to the Sullivan set is the T.A.M.I. Show Collector’s Edition (Shout Factory). Held up in legal limbo for years, the complete movie from 1964 is available in its entirety. Historic performances of James Brown, Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye and many more are here in all their exuberant 60’s grooviness. This is one of the defining rock movies of all time.
Two other releases not to miss are Free Forever (Eagle) and A Concert By The Lake (Eagle). The Free set is a two-DVD package that includes a DVD audio disc of the band’s career-changing 1970 Isle of Wight show. The other DVD includes performances from the German television program Beat Club and a Granada television taping, both from 1970, and the original videos of five songs. There are also many special features, including interviews. Free was one of the bridge bands that reflected the shift in blues-based English rock into a harder, near-heavy metal sound. It was also the band which spawned Bad Company (along with which also included members of Mott the Hoople). A Concert By The Lake is a benefit concert film, available only on Blu-Ray, that was performed in England and organized by Gary Brooker of Procol Harum. The concert includes performances by Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Paul Carrack, Mike Rutherford and many more.
One of the most ambitious musical projects from the past year is One Fast Move Or I’m Gone (Atlantic) by Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard. Farrar, of Son Volt, and Gibbard, of Death Cab For Cutie, have taken words from Jack Kerouac’s corrosive novel Big Sur and set them to music. There is also a special-edition package that includes an additional song, a digital booklet and a full-length film of the project. Jeff Tweedy, Farrar’s former bandmate in Uncle Tupelo, has also recently been involved in a project with the group Wilco that has some similar undertones. There was the group’s album Wilco, The Album (Nonesuch), which got my vote as best album of 2009 and, on DVD, Wilco Live: Ashes of the American Flag (Nonesuch). Like the Kerouac project, Wilco is attempting on the DVD to reflect the beauty and contradictions of America in this case, in a concert film recorded on its 2008 tour, by using live performances from some of American music’s most treasured and intimate concert venues. The DVD also includes interviews and on-the-road footage. Fellow “No Depression” practitioners the Jayhawks released Music from the North Country (The Jayhawks Anthology) on CD on American, which is available as a one- or two-disc set that fans of the two aforementioned projects will have to have. Also worth checking out is Farrar’s band Son Volt’s recent album American Central Dust (Rounder).
From Razor & Tie is the DVD How Sweet The Sound from Joan Baez, an American Masters documentary on not only the extraordinary musical career of Baez, but on her social and political activism as well. A companion CD is also available.
CDs that are worth searching out that include bonus DVDs include The Blue Ridge Rangers Ride Again (Verve) from John Fogerty; White Lies for Dark Times (Virgin) from Ben Harper and the Relentless Seven; The BQE (Original Music Soundtrack) from Sufjan Stevens (Asthmatic Kitty); and Michael Buble Meets Madison Square Garden (Warner Brothers). The Fogerty disc, one of his best in years, includes such guests as Bruce Springsteen. The bonus DVD includes a making-of- the-album documentary, acoustic performances and a preview of his upcoming live album. Stevens’s CD/DVD is music that he wrote for a theater piece inspired by, believe it or not, the BQE and the hula hoop. This instrumental-heavy work is classical in nature and very dramatic sounding. Harper’s DVD bonus release primarily features live performances as part of a documentary, along with other extras. The Buble set is a concert recorded at Madison Square Garden. Buble also released the studio album Crazy Love at around the same time.
April is shaping up to be a fine time to check out some great local shows. At the Boulton Center, don’t miss Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons on April 7th, Allen Toussaint on April 9th, Moya Brenna on April 10th, David Bromberg on April 11th, Cowboy Junkies on April 21st, Graham Parker & the Figgs on April 22nd and the Church on April 23rd.
The next New York Roots Music Association & Saturday Night Social Club event, an evening of the Kinks’ Muswell Hillbillies album, will be presented on April 17th at the American Legion 1812 at 115 Southern Parkway, in Plainview and features Russ Seeger, The Blaggards, The Hornets, Lizz Smith, Caroline Doctorow and Steve Sollog.
Don’t miss the next installment of Rock Legends Live, at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, which, as always, is hosted by Bill Shelley. On April 18th, at 2 PM Sid Bernstein will appear. There will be clips from artists that Bernstein produced concerts for, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Bay City Rollers and, while not rock, certainly legends, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and many others.
Sing SOS! Songs of the Spectrum, featuring Jackson Browne, Dar Williams, Teddy Geiger, Marshall Crenshaw, Dan Bern, Jonatha Brooke and others has recently been released. On Wednesday, April 7 a CD release benefit concert starring Dar Williams, Marshall Crenshaw, Ari Hest, Fiona McBain of Ollabelle, and others will be held at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village as part of Autism Awareness Month.