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Free to Rock DVD Review: Documentary Explores Music's Role in Toppling Communism

The film tells a lesser-known part of rock history, but the hour-long format barely scratches the surface.
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“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” Janis Joplin sang in “Me and Bobby McGee.” For teens living behind the Iron Curtain in the 1950s, rock itself became a symbol of freedom. The documentary Free to Rock explores the role the rebellious music played in ending the Cold War, ending with the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989. Through interviews with Western musicians as well as Russian artists, the film makes the case that rock ’n’ roll’s attitude changed culture and helped bring about changes that reverberate today. Executive producers Nicholas Brinkley and Douglas Yeager spent ten years

The Tragically Hip: Long Time Running Blu-ray Review: Beating the Inevitability of Death Just a Little Bit

A fantastic behind-the-scenes look at how the band, their team, and their fans dealt with this farewell tour.
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On May 24, 2016, it was announced that The Tragically Hip's lead singer Gord Downie had incurable brain cancer. In spite of that, they intended to tour in support their thirteenth studio album, Man Machine Poem, set for release a few weeks later. They played 15 shows across Canada in just under a month, concluding with a hometown show on August 20, 2016, at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario. It was an unofficial, though presumed, farewell tour, which became official with the passing of Downie on October 17, 2017. The final concert was broadcast to nearly 12 million

Black Sabbath: The End Blu-ray Review: A Fitting Swan Song

The Blu-ray deserves to recognized on "Best of 2017" lists.
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On February 4, 2017 at Genting Arena in their hometown of Birmingham, England, Black Sabbath (sans founding drummer Bill Ward) played the final show of their farewell tour. The set list focused primarily on the band's first four albums, including six of the eight songs from Paranoid. The remaining four albums from Ozzy's initial tenure were only represented three times: "Dirty Women" and two songs performed during the instrumental medley. Unfortunately, nothing for fans of Never Say Die! The concert opens with the sound of the bell tolling at the beginning of "Black Sabbath". Ozzy acts as cheerleader between lyrics,

Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago DVD Review: New Documentary Paints an Incomplete Picture of the Band

While interesting, the movie lacks key voices that would have provided a multi-dimensional portrayal of the classic rock group.
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When asked to define Chicago’s sound, saxophonist Walter Parazaider provides this simple summary: “a good rock and roll band with horns.” The band has accomplished that goal in their 50-year-career, from their origins at Chicago’s DePaul University to their '70s heyday through their controversial 1980s productions with David Foster. The documentary Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago aims to chronicle their story, told through interviews with current members as well as rare home video footage. While it’s an interesting portrait of the band’s tangled history, it is also a one-sided perspective missing some key voices. Director Peter Pardini

Festival (1967) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Better Than Woodstock

Documenting the Newport Folk Festival at the height of the folk revival, Festival is a feast for music fans.
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In the early part of the 20th Century, various folklorists, including John Lomax, wandered about the country documenting the songs of the people - folk music. They sought out cowboys and prisoners, former slaves and sharecroppers, and recorded them. In 1952, Harry Smith compiled his favorite songs from these recordings and created The Anthology of American Folk Music. This album reached the ears of folks like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger who recorded some of those songs and started the Great American Folk Revival which hit its peak in the early 1960s. In 1959, music promoter George Wein, who’d had

Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare Special Edition DVD Review: Highly Recommended

A welcome addition to the collection of any Alice Cooper fan.
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Vincent Furnier was the lead singer of the band of Alice Cooper and also went by the name Alice Cooper. After seven studio albums and the band starting to fracture, Furnier legally changed his name to Alice Cooper and became a solo artist with the release of the concept album, Welcome to My Nightmare, about the nightmares of a child named Steven. It was supported by a tour, of which two shows at London's Wembley Arena on September 11-12, 1975 were recorded for the concert film of the same name, which Eagle Rock Entertainment has released and paired it with

Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland DVD Review: Singer's Final Years Explored

While the film presents a largely sympathetic portrait of the reclusive star's last years, it never quite captures Jackson's struggles during that period.
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Filming a biopic is fraught with difficulty. How can a writer and director accurately portray an international icon onscreen? Few Beatles films have adequately captured the complex personality of John Lennon, while Elvis Presley-themed movies have to walk a fine line between real life and caricature. In addition, are the screenwriters drawing from respected source material, or from authors with an axe to grind? These questions again surface while viewing the Lifetime movie Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, set for release on DVD on October 10. While it presents a largely sympathetic portrait of the reclusive star’s last years, it

Music Review: The Bottom Line Archive Series: Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson: In Their Own Words with Vin Scelsa

The quirky and revealing Q&A, along with the impromptu performances, make this an interesting slice of rock history.
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The Bottom Line, a rock and folk club in Greenwich Village from 1974 to 2004, featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, and Meat Loaf, among others. The music and commentary showcase In Their Own Words, a staple on rock station WNEW in the 1990s, was recorded at the club. The event, moderated by DJ Vin Scelsa, who also hosted the popular free-form radio show Idiot’s Delight, highlighted artists as diverse as Pete Seeger, Roger McGuinn, Shawn Colvin, Doc Watson, Joey Ramone, Jimmy Webb, and Barrett Strong. This episode of In Their Own Words features the unlikely duo of Kris

Hype! Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: The Rise and Fall of Grunge

While being a fan of the music certainly adds to the enjoyment of Hype!, it's not required to learn the cautionary tale it tells.
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New to the Shout Select line, Hype! offers viewers an inside look at the Seattle music scene of late '80 / early '90s, the seismic shift it caused in pop culture, and how the media exploited it. While the first two elements tell a unique story, the third seems unfortunately all too common. The late '80s were an interesting time in music. Country was turning pop and rap/hip hop was slowly on the rise. Rock music was dominated by hair metal bands, but that would change by the end of the decade. "Alternative music" was a catch-all descriptor for a

Jane's Addiction: Ritual De Lo Habitual - Alive at Twenty-Five Blu-ray Review: Thank You, Boys

An enjoyable look back at a classic album.
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After a brief introduction through separate interviews of band members Perry Farrell (singer), Dave Navarro (guitar), Stephen Perkins (drums), and Chris Chaney (bassist in place of Eric Avery), Jane's Addiction played the final slot at Jack's 11th Show, which had them on a bill that included The Cult, Violent Femmes, and Garbage, whose touring bassist was Avery. Sadly, bridges have been burned so badly, there was no on-stage reunion. The concert, available on Blu-ray, DVD, and CD, took place at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre on September 23rd 2016, a few weeks before the venue shut down and was bulldozed. It was

Eagles of Death Metal: I Love You All the Time: Live at the Olympia in Paris DVD Review

Dedicated to victims of terrorism all around the world, the band marks a triumphant return to France with this concert.
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On the back cover and at the start of the video, Eagles of Death Metal presents a reminder of the tragic events that occurred at their concert on November 13, 2015, when "gunmen entered the [Bataclan concert hall] and opened fire on the crowd, leaving 89 people dead." During U2's Paris concert on December 7, EODM returned to a concert stage for the first time with a joint performance of Patti Smith's "People Have the Power". In a classy move, they were then given the stage to close U2's show with "I Love You All the Time". This can be

Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies: RFK Stadium, Wash. DC - 07/12/89 Review

Another enjoyable night seeing the Dead come back to life.
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Hosted by Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment at theaters across the country, the seventh annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies presented the band's performance at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, Washington DC on July 12, 1989, which happened seven days before the Alpine Valley concert shown at the 2015 Meet Up and ten days after the Sullivan Stadium concert shown at the 2016 Meet-Up. Taken from the same Northeast Summer tour as the previous two Meet-Ups, this evening features guitarist Jerry Garcia, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Phil Lesh, keyboardist Brent Mydland, and guitarist Bob Weir with Bruce

Gospel According to Al Green DVD Review: A Career at a Crossroads

An R&B legend's struggle with the spiritual and sensual is chronicled in this electrifying portrait.
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In 1977, R&B legend Al Green signaled to fans that he was undergoing a life—and career—transformation. “Belle,” a track off his LP The Belle Album, contains a telling lyric: “It’s you that I want, but it’s Him that I need.” Green’s struggle to reconcile the spiritual and sensual, the sacred and profane, is chronicled in the newly reissued 1984 documentary Gospel According to Al Green. Originally produced for the BBC, this Robert Mugge-directed film has been remastered for DVD and Blu-ray, and features extras such as updated director commentary, previously unaired outtakes, and the full audio of Mugge’s two-hour interview

Album Review: ELP: Once Upon A Time In South America (4-CD Set)

The 1993 & 1997 reunion tour concerts showcase an ELP trying to pick up the pieces following more than a decade in the wilderness.
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Emerson Lake & Palmer (or ELP as they've also been often billed - including on this live recording, drawn from a series of shows in South America, two dates from a 1993 reunion tour and one from 1997) are one of those bands who have gotten kind of a bad rap over the years. Even during their 1970s heyday - when they were one of the top drawing live acts in the world, riding a string of mega-selling albums including Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery, they were still universally despised by the rock press. But even as the critics routinely

Fathom Events Presents the 2017 DCI Tour Premiere

More than just marching band.
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Drum Corps International (or DCI as they are commonly called) was formed in 1972 as the non-profit governing body for drum and bugle corps in the U.S. and Canada (DCI is international much like how Major League Baseball's championship is the World Series though it only ever includes a tiny percentage of the planet). Every summer DCI hosts competitions throughout the United States, which concludes in August with the week-long DCI World Championship. For many years now the start of the season has begun in Indianapolis. Fathom Events hosted a live viewing of this competition last night in movie theaters

John Williams & Steven Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection Album Review

It offers essential movie music that no fan should be without plus some material that is worth being rediscovered.
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Arguably the greatest pairing of composer and director in cinema history, John Williams' scores from Steven Spielberg's films are the focus of The Ultimate Collection, a 3-CD / 1-DVD set that gathers the previously released The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration (1991) and Williams on Williams: The Classic Spielberg Scores (1995) along with the new The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration Part III, whose name will surely send a few erronously in search of Part II. Williams and Spielberg first worked together 43 years ago on The Sugarland Express, the theme of which is included, and have worked together on all Spielberg's films except for The
Neil Young Journeys is director Jonathan Demme’s third film starring the musician, the previous two being Neil Young: Heart of Gold and Neil Young Trunk Show. Journeys is predominantly a concert film recorded at Toronto’s Massey Hall where Young performed solo two nights in support of Le Noise. In addition, Demme shot footage of Young driving to the show behind his brother Bob from their hometown Omemee. He describes it as “a town in North Ontario,” bringing to mind his song “Helpless,” which plays over the closing credits.. Along the way, Young reminisces about growing up, giving the film the
I’ve been very fortunate to see Def Leppard several times over the years since their monumentally explosive Hysteria album took the world by storm in the late ‘80s. And while I have one or two bands that I like slightly better than them, they have always been the most consistent in regards to their live performances. The music is flawless, the vocals pristine, and they play the songs the way we know them. They don’t try the gimmicky tricks by trying to flip one of their best songs and give it a reggae feel, doing it acoustically, or making up

Gimme Danger DVD Review: Jim Jarmusch Pays Loving Tribute to Iggy and the Stooges, but Misses Some Opportunities

A long overdue official history lesson documenting the "greatest rock and roll band ever." Or, at least one of them.
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From the first few minutes of Gimme Danger, Jim Jarmusch's loving tribute to Iggy and the Stooges, the director makes his unabashed fandom abundantly clear - even going so far as to label them "the greatest rock and roll band ever " (a claim repeated numerous times throughout the film). While that label is debatable at best, there is still no denying the enormous influence of the Stooges on a subsequent generation of rock bands ranging from the Ramones and the Clash, to Sonic Youth and Nirvana. Jarmusch is of course no stranger to the rock-doc form, with a resume

Fathom Events Presents Rush: Time Stand Still

Rush says a farewell to fans.
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When Rush was preparing and touring for R40, their 40th anniversary tour, it was frequently suggested in the press that it might be their last. The band members didn't come out and say so directly, but they responded to the possibility in interviews. It turns out they knew more than they let on as made clear in Time Stand Still, a documentary about what is now revealed to be their final tour. The film was screened in theaters in conjunction with Fathom Events, a second date was added because of the huge demand, and is available in different home-video formats.

New Orleans Music in Exile Blu-ray Review: After the Hurricane

Documentary filmmaker Robert Mugge chronicles the devastation leveled on New Orleans and its musical community after Hurricane Katrina.
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Unless you live in New Orleans or know someone who does, you might not have paid much attention to its reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina. Robert Mugge’s documentary, New Orleans Music in Exile, focuses on the lives of the city’s musicians in the aftermath of the hurricane, and how they dealt with the destruction of their homes, clubs, and livelihoods. Filmed by Mugge in 2005 and 2006, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Music in Exile chronicles the devastation leveled on New Orleans and its musical community firsthand. Musicians give the filmmaker a tour of their ravaged homes and businesses. Irma

Man Of The World: The Peter Green Story DVD Review

An often fascinating, but equally frustrating study of the guitarist and songwriter, once spoken of in the same breath as guitar-Gods like Clapton, Page, and Hendrix.
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If you know your rock history, you know that before there was the soft-rock hit machine of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac, there was "the other Fleetwood Mac," a much different sounding animal (and then some) than the one you most likely remember now. During a brief, three-year stretch that ran from roughly 1968 through about 1970, the British blues-rock band known first as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac (before dropping the Green name at his own request), recorded three well-received albums, including the classic Then Play On. But then, just as they seemed on the threshold of a Led Zeppelin sized breakthrough

Jennifer Lopez: Dance Again DVD Review: An Interesting Glimpse into Life on the Road

If you’re a fan of Jennifer Lopez, then this is a DVD worth having.
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In 2012 Jennifer Lopez set off on her first ever world tour. For six months, she traveled across five continents and performed in 65 cities, starting in South America and finishing in Puerto Rico. While you might expect this to be a concert DVD, it was really a documentary about all the behind-the-scenes interactions that happened during the tour. There was some concert footage, but only to illustrate what was being discussed during the interviews and to show the different venues and crowds that they encountered. Even then, none of the songs were performed in their entirety or without considerable

808 Movie Review: All About That Bass

Documentary about the Roland TR-808 drum machine explores its indelible contributions to modern music.
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The singular defining aspect of all modern popular music is its deep, thumping bass. This new documentary explores the principal electronic architect of that bass, the Roland TR-808 drum machine. No other piece of musical equipment in history is known so globally by its model number, and that 808 moniker continues to receive frequent shoutouts and respect in all genres with a beat, including electronic, pop, R&B, and hip hop. The filmmakers take a historical approach to the subject, tracing the 808’s emergence as a powerful music tool in the 1970s through to its continued current use. While they don’t

Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression: Live at the Royal Albert Hall Review

It's fitting the show concludes with "Success" because that's a completely accurate description of what this concert is.
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In March of 2016, Iggy Pop and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age revealed they had secretly collaborated on an album together, Post Pop Depression. Joined by QOTSA's Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders in the studio, PPD was released to good reviews followed soon after by 21 dates across North America and Europe in support of the album. Rounding out the touring band were QOTSA's Troy Van Leeuwen and guitarist Matt Sweeney. Their performance at the Royal Albert Hall on May 13 was the second to last night of the tour. It's an impressive, raucous

Last of the Mississippi Jukes DVD Review: Blues History Revisited

This riveting documentary chronicles the history of the Mississippi juke joint and the ongoing struggle to preserve remaining clubs.
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Actor Morgan Freeman, who co-owns Mississippi juke joint Ground Zero, describes Delta Blues as “American classical music.” The documentary Last of the Mississippi Jukes—originally released in 2003 and now available on DVD—chronicles one state’s fight to preserve not only Delta Blues but the juke joints that introduced the blues. This loving tribute spotlights two venues, one older and the other a recreation of traditional juke joints. While the fate of these two places diverge, they share one common interest: fostering local talent and maintaining the tight community that the blues formed. Juke joints first appeared on southern plantations after the

Can't Stop The Show: The Return Of KIX Review: The Band Is Back Sounding As Good As They Always Have

KIX and '80s heavy metal fans will not be disappointed with this new release.
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Formed in 1977, the hard rock band from Hagerstown, Maryland broke into the mainstream music scene with their fourth album, the platinum selling Blow My Fuse in 1988. After releasing two more albums that did not have the same success, KIX wouldn’t release another album for almost 20 years. In 2014, they released Rock Your Face Off. Following up that release, the band put together a documentary detailing all the time and hard work they put into creating new music. The biggest challenge was writing the music itself. Former bass player and author of most of the band’s previous songs,

Pete Townshend's Deep End: Face the Face Reveals the Soul of a Rock Legend

This remastered 1986 performance reveals the singer/songwriter's allegiance to the rhythm and blues tradition.
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As the title of a 1994 box set declared, the Who proved themselves as masters of “maximum R&B.” That phrase accurately describes Pete Townshend’s Deep End: Face the Face, a CD/DVD that captures a 1986 TV performance of selections from Townshend’s 1985 album White City: A Novel as well as solo and Who tracks. Featuring an unusually giddy Townshend leading a band including Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour, it demonstrates the singer/songwriter’s charisma as a solo artist. Filmed for the German TV series Rockpalast at MIDEM in Cannes on January 29, 1986, the performance includes tracks from White City as well

Classic Albums: The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds Blu-ray Review

Any true Beach Boys fan will eventually own this. It’s a must.
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When the discussion of the greatest album of all times breaks out a party, many people will chime in, some people will walk away, and at least one guy will ask, “what’s an album?” Inevitably, The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds will be brought up in the discussion. If it’s not, you’re at the wrong party. With Pet Sounds celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it seems appropriate that Eagle Rock Entertainment would release the definitive authorized story of the album on September 23rd as part of its Classic Albums collection on Blu-ray and DVD. Containing an additional 30 minutes of

Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever Six-DVD Set Review

More than the causal fan needs and delivers more than the hardcore fan will expect.
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Airing on May 16, 1983, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever is remembered for being the television special where Michael Jackson introduced the world to the moonwalk, but it was much more than that. The program was the silver anniversary celebration of the Motown music label and also a benefit for sickle cell anemia. In addition to the special, this six-disc set offers an exhaustive collection of behind-the-scenes bonus material. Disc 1: The Show The special, hosted by Richard Pryor, features a number of Motown artists as well as other musicians and celebrities. The show is filled with then-modern performances, a

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