SOS Fest XII – Part I: Live at The Longfield Suite

Time for one of the highlights of my year, the rather excellent SOS festival. A festival envisioned 12 years ago by Lynne Hampson of Rocksector Records as an antidote to the plethora of family un-friendly festivals around at the time. Continue reading

DVD Round Up – The Rolling Stones, The Jam, Black Stone Cherry, Ritchie Blackmore

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If the surfeit of Christmas tinsel, chocolate and nostalgia is enough to drive you to immerse yourself in a VAT of Jaegermeister, or if you have already had enough of Christmas “specials” of television programmes that weren’t actually that special to begin with then, during this holiday season you could while away some hours with some of the really rather excellent music DVDs that are available from your local emporium of choice.

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Here at Ghost Cult Towers we have literally toiled hard from our sofas to check out the ones that are worth parting you from your hard earned cash. Top of our proverbial pile is, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, The Rolling Stones. Those lovely folk at Eagle Rock Entertainment have been slowly but surely releasing some terrific footage of Jagger and co at various points in their historic pomp. Live from The Tokyo Dome 1990 and Live at Roundhay Park 1982 are two cases in point. Filmed in 4:3 ratio (and considerably pre internet) the first is a spruced up version of a TV special that celebrated the band’s arrival in Japan and the culmination of their Steel Wheels Tour. ….Roundhay Park, filmed eight years earlier when the band were battling to retain relevance in a world dominated by post disco and New Romantics, is equally compelling. What could have been exercises in simple nostalgia actually turn out, thanks to the wonders of remastering, upscaling and a new audio track (thanks to sound wizard Bob Clearmountain) to be performances of considerable panache and verve, mainly thanks to Jagger and Richards being on particularly good form and yet more evidence, should it be needed, as to why this band are regularly regarded as the best live experience on the planet. These are the sort of DVDs that PR companies will say are “a must for any fan”. In this case, they might actually be right for once.

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About The Young Idea is a quite brilliant documentary about UK mods The Jam and, in particular, frontman Paul Weller. This is very much a warts and all documentary, ultimately sympathetic to the threesome, placing them appropriately in the canon of great British bands of the late 20th century. What resonates in this film is how diverse the band were in terms of influence and inspiration before what now seems like an inevitable breakup in 1982. Packed with brand new interviews with the band’s principal protagonists, About The Young Idea reveals itself as part insightful documentary, part labour of love, all fabulous music. If you remain sceptical after watching the film, then have a look at the accompanying live concert footage from 1980 where the band’s energy, anger at injustice and clarion calls to the youth to change the world around them can be seen in full effect. Indispensable.

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Shifting decades and gear somewhat, Black Stone Cherry are the hard rock underdogs made good and this energetic live concert film, Thank You shows just why. Their early career saw them somewhat unloved in their home country (USA) but they were soundly adopted by the UK and Europe and have subsequently built a fairly decent career, including notable performances at Download festival and their own sell-out arena tour, which this film documents. Black Stone Cherry are one of those bands that tend to divide audiences but, for the uninitiated, this is a standard concert film where, if nothing else the band are ridiculously hardworking, highly energised and pretty much adored by their fanbase. As souvenirs of their well received 2014 tour go, this is the one to own – it’s miles better than their over-priced t-shirts anyway…

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And so we come to The Ritchie Blackmore Story, which is a well-produced, insightful and fascinating talking heads style documentary about one of hard rock and heavy metal’s most revered and talked about characters. This is a DVD worth owning, not just for the vintage footage but thanks to brand new and exclusive interviews with the main man himself. You get a rounded picture of what drives and inspires one of rock’s most feted players. Pretty much everyone and anyone turns up to pay their respects- there’s Queen’s Brian May, Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and Gene Simmons all saying very nice things and Joe Satriani and Toto’s Steve Lukather revelling in being true fan boys but it’s Ritchie himself, entirely appropriately, who is the star of this. It’s the kind of DVD that you’ll watch time and again and the kind of DVD that will make you want to rediscover or (in my case) discover the man’s music.

Job done, then. Merry Christmas.

 

MAT DAVIES