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Blind Faith - London Hyde Park 1969
Blind Faith - London Hyde Park 1969
DVD ~ Ginger Baker
23 used & new from $14.97

4.0 out of 5 stars For Clapton/Winwood Completists Only..., August 9, 2008
Blind Faith was a band that sounded great on paper, hence the term "Supergroup": Eric Clapton on guitar, Steve Winwood on vocals and keyboards, Ginger Baker on drums, and Ric Grech on bass (from the band Family, which was a big deal in England). Although their lone album is a fine piece of work, their debut at London's Hyde Park was less than auspicious. Viewing this DVD, it would seem they were a bit under-rehearsed and lacked enough material to fill out a long set (apparently Cream, Spencer Davis, and Traffic songs were off-limits, so instead we got a Stones cover). At times the viewer could be forgiven for thinking they were seeing a Woodstock outtake: semi-grainy footage of a band on a plywood stage, cutting quite often (and sometimes in split screen) to a bunch of mellow hippies watching. But what's with the cameraman's fascination with the nearby pond, where few if any people were even boating? I don't fault the cameraman for not filming enough closeups of Clapton's hands for the guitar fanatics; it would be several years, based on the number of old concerts I've watched, before almost anyone would figure out that when there was a guitar solo, the sound was emanating from the guy playing the guitar and not either the keyboardist's foot or the drummer. Clapton himself looks slightly bored and plays mostly in "mellow" mode on a Telecaster-looking guitar with extremely blackened frets. Even songs that were stellar in the studio, like "Can't Find My Way Home," come across like a bad high school cover band. Winwood's voice is mostly shot. Baker plays well enough but often seems restrained. And poor Ric Grech offers little; it could be anyone on bass. At one point I thought, "This is so bad it's good," and then another voice inside my head said, "No, this is so bad it's gone from bad to good and back to bad again." This DVD is actually a great cure for insomnia; I fell asleep twice while watching it. As far as special features, the Cream video for "I'm So Glad" is edited, the Traffic video is almost "too" psychedelic (too bad they didn't have a live clip from the 1972 Santa Monica show with Rebop Quaku Bah), and the Spencer Davis video is OK. The narration at the beginning of the concert is a bit spotty in places. All in all, for completists only.

Dazed & Confused (The Criterion Collection)
Dazed & Confused (The Criterion Collection)
DVD ~ Jason London
Offered by amazingmedia
Price: $22.27
33 used & new from $9.72

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion is the one to own, July 30, 2006
At long last, lifelong fans of this cult film from 1993 finally get something worthy of the title "Special Edition." While standing out a bit incongruously amongst their other titles by people like Goddard and Kurosawa, this disc is nonetheless worthy of the Criterion moniker. I have just spent the better part of a Saturday going through all the extras spread out amongst 2 whole discs.

For those who don't know, Dazed and Confused is basically the ultimate party movie about kids growing up in the 1970s. Forget certain other films which came later (The Stoned Age, Detroit Rock City, etc.)...they have their charms as well, but there's only one Dazed and Confused. So many stars (whether of the blockbuster sort or the indie sort) got their start in this inconspicuous look at the first day of summer in a small Texas town in 1976, where the seniors haze the freshman, everyone is out to score a little weed, and the opposite sex never looked so good. Sure, there's little plot to speak of, save the rather hackneyed decision of Pink not to sign the pledge to his team, but there are so many classic lines, mostly courtesy of Wooderson, so much attention to detail in the muscle cars, clothing, and slang, not to mention wall to wall 70s rock classics...bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, KISS, Black Oak Arkansas, Aerosmith, plus more "obscure" songs by War, Sweet, Head East, and Dr. John.

As already mentioned, Criterion has put out the definitive 2 disc edition, complete with a truly superior picture, commentary by the director, 13 deleted scenes (many of which are really good), and then an hour long making of documentary.

Smoke on the Water: The Deep Purple Story
Smoke on the Water: The Deep Purple Story
by Dave Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.98
52 used & new from $8.95

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent but not definitive account of Deep Purple, September 26, 2004
As a major fan I knew I would buy this book as soon as it came out, if only to help show that there is a market for books about Purple. Now having read it, I can say that although it was a good read, it wasn't quite a definitive account. Purple have such a long and variegated history that it would be hard for any one volume to thoroughly cover everything, unless it was at least 600 pages long. While the book covers from 1968 to 2003, there are some parts of their history somewhat glossed over: the move to California in late 1974 and adventures there, a more thorough look at the Bolin era (including Patsy Collins' death in Jakarta and a more detailed look at the drugs), plus more on the final tour with Blackmore in late 1993, during which they played some of their most fiery shows. The author seems to dislike Bolin to some degree (not really going into enough detail about his pre-Purple years), and Captain Beyond is all but dismissed, while Warhorse gets too much detail. In addition, while early Whitesnake gets its props, he doesn't talk too much about their rebirth as a multiplatinum glam band in the mid to late 80s. (Like it or lump it, the 1987 album vastly outsold what DP was doing at the time, and Coverdale finally cracked America for the first time since he had been in Purple). A bit more on the members' personal lives (families, hobbies, etc) would have been cool, and perhaps a track by track musical analysis would have been cool (but would have made the book twice as long).

In addition, the photo section was a bit lacking, although this could have been a rights issue. Some color photos would have been nice, or a color discography. Now it sounds like I've trashed the book no end, but it's actually decent for the casual to medium fan, and of course very welcome in America where the band has all but been ignored in the last fifteen years.

Kiss Alive Forever: The Complete Touring History
Kiss Alive Forever: The Complete Touring History
by Curt Gooch
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from $50.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sets the standard for others to follow, April 25, 2004
This book is essential for any KISS fan, plus anyone ever interested in the goings-on behind that band. Almost anyone will learn a ton of things about their various tours from 1973 through 2000. This is the type of book you pick up just to read something specific, and end up looking at it for an hour even if you have already read it straight through. I myself have only seen KISS twice, in 1996 and 2000, having been too young to see them back in the 1970s, but even then, like many, I have my favorite periods of the band, and each period's tours are given equal coverage (although 1983-1989 tends to be kind of a blur, with very similar itineraries). I still think the ultimate KISS book has yet to be written, although this one, CK Lendt's book, and Behind the Mask are the best so far.

The Last House on the Left
The Last House on the Left
DVD ~ Sandra Peabody
Offered by whateverforsale
Price: $14.40
123 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone, but a genre classic, September 28, 2002
This review is from: The Last House on the Left (DVD)
I must admit that I purchased this DVD based on the film's infamous reputation and place in the history of horror. Having seen it, I am glad to have it in my collection but still have mixed feelings about it--and understand that most of the public would probably hate it. A low-budget film filled with inappropriate music, inappropriate comic interludes, and performances ranging from decent to disgusting: this packs none of the terrifying punch its contemporaries (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and doesn't quite get as sick as some of its immediate descendants (I Spit On Your Grave). Still, it definitely pushed many boundaries--for its day.
The DVD itself is wonderful, the film restored to its full uncut version, a funny commentary track, deleted scenes, several trailers, and an excellent making-of documentary which finds most of the original cast being interviewed.

Mulholland Dr.
Mulholland Dr.
DVD ~ Naomi Watts
Price: $9.68
145 used & new from $0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lynch's newest masterpiece demands to be noticed, September 28, 2002
This review is from: Mulholland Dr. (DVD)
Mulholland Drive was one of the most polarizing films of 2001, not surprising considering that it came from one of the most polarizing directors ever--David Lynch. Lynch has made a career of strange films, with quirky characters, non-linear plots, violent and/or psychosexual imagery, and themes which invite ever interpretation under the sun--that is, unless the viewer simply dismisses it as "too weird." With such a history behind him, Lynch's latest film seems nothing if not a natural progression from its predecessors.
The plot can be summarized in only a few sentences, but the paths the characters (and their seeming alter-egos) take could fill up a book. Many viewers have said that multiple viewings have still not cleared away the cobwebs of their confusion. However, I was quite surprised to find that even after seeing it once, I felt like I "got" most of it. I feel simultaneously lucky--and fearful that my interpretation was incorrect. Consequently, I will be returning for several more viewings.
Kudos must go to Lynch's masterful direction, the beautiful cinematography (curiously, shot in 1.85 rather than 2.35 like, say, Blue Velvet), the music, and the great acting. And even if the story confuses the heck out of you, you can still enjoy the two hot girls.

DVD ~ Tisa Farrow
Offered by CDWarehouseOnline
Price: $12.98
42 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Fulci's absolute zombie makeup, September 28, 2002
This review is from: Zombie (DVD)
Zombie is one of those DVDs you can pop in on a boring night and laugh while getting into the film's palpable atmosphere of growing dread. Director Lucio Fulci is slowly being rediscovered by the next generation; this film, along with The Beyond, The New York Ripper, and House By The Cemetary, is one of his best. Fulci is a master of gore effects, and in fact the actual zombie makeup found in this film is possibly the most realistic I've ever seen. Not that I see many zombies in real life, but the gritty makeup jobs--replete with such quirks as worms falling out of eyes--are highly convincing. Another major draw is the film soundtrack, especially the eerie title tune which ranks up there with the music to "Halloween" and "Suspiria" in its ability to creep you out and make you leave the lights on while viewing.
Still, there is plenty of camp to be found herein. Obviously this is a low budget film, and despite good cinematography, the film stock is grainy. Much of the dubbing is downright embarrassing, especially the scene where Fulci himself, playing a newspaper editor, is speaking--none of his words match up. In reality Fulci spoke little English. Also, some of the characters are a bit strange: such as the couple who allows the protagonists to tag along on the boat. Brian, played by Al Cliver, seems like some kind of hippy who just happens to be able to pronounce "Conquistadores" in perfect Spanish. His wife has no qualms about scuba diving topless only minutes after meeting the other two people. Olga Karlatos plays the beleagured wife of a scientist determined to study the zombies; here she looks much younger and prettier than in Purple Rain, even though it's only four years earlier. And it is she who gets the splinter through the eye.
In summary, Zombie is not an Oscar winner, but rather a near-perfect genre film with unforgettable set pieces and enough comic relief to hold its own against any comparable film.

Past Lives
Past Lives
23 used & new from $7.83

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At long last--more live Ozzy-era Sabbath, August 20, 2002
This review is from: Past Lives (Audio CD)
Fans of Black Sabbath finally have a new officially-released collection of '70s-era, Ozzy Osbourne-led Black Sabbath to sink their teeth into. While this is by definition a good thing, a closer look (and listen) reveals that while this set is quite a welcome addition to anyone's collection, it is far from perfect.
First off, the DigiPak packaging leaves a bit to be desired. While the sepia tone is all class, and several never-before seen photos are included (including a huge panorama of the audience at the '74 Cal Jam, plus Ozzy donning his platform boots for said event!), the liner notes by Bruce Pilato are rather mundane. Any hardcore fan could have written better notes in his or her sleep. The guitar pick is a nice touch, but guitarists won't want to use it for fear of losing it. The poster is cool, but smaller and less colorful than the one once found in Master of Reality. Furthermore, the dates and venues for the tracks on disc two are left off; it only says "Recorded at various locations during the '70s." As an armchair rock historian I would like to have seen those dates.
Now onto more important things, namely, the music contained herein. Disc One consists of the infamous Live At Last, remastered for maximum clarity, or so they say. Personally, I think polishing that pseudo-bootleg is a lost cause. It sounds a bit louder and bassier than my earlier copies, but that's about it. The performance itself is good, if you have never heard it: recorded in early 1973, when Sabbath were at a peak. Iommi's extremely lengthy blues/jazz excursions on "Wicked World" are quite enjoyable, and "Killing Yourself To Live" comes off a bit tougher than the studio version, but "Sweet Leaf" is too slow and too off-key for most tastes. In addition, where is the "Will you welcome--Black Sabbath!" announcement at the beginning? Having grown up with Live At Last, I think this omission is heresy.
Disc Two is what most hardcore fans will pop in their players first. Consisting of tracks recorded, err, at various venues in the '70s, the sound quality varies from track to track but is generally better than Disc One. Especially rocking are the three tracks from Sabotage, here recorded a few months before that album's September 1975 emergence; Ozzy's voice has a great timbre to it (plus strange effects during "Megalomania"), and the rhythm section of Butler and Ward shows us once and for all where thrash metal came from. Also great is Iommi's lengthy acoustic intro to Black Sabbath, which will have guitar players rushing to their favorite tablature websites to learn. Personally I would have loved to hear more material from Volume IV, my favorite Ozzy Sab studio LP, but I guess that's covered by "Tomorrow's Dream" and "Cornucopia" on Disc One.
Bottom line: Get it if you're any kind of Sab fan for the cool selections on Disc Two, but if you don't feel like spending the extra dollars, skip the DigiPak. The regular CD apparently has the same tracks. And keep in mind that Disc One is basically Live At Last, an old wine in a new bottle.

Kiss Me Monster
Kiss Me Monster
DVD ~ Janine Reynaud
8 used & new from $3.97

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inferior sequal to "Two Undercover Angels", April 16, 2002
This review is from: Kiss Me Monster (DVD)
I truly wish I could have rated this one higher, because after all, it's Jess Franco, one of my favorite directors. However, I must call a spade a spade: this film, a sequal to "Two Undercover Angels" (see my review), never truly sparks. A viewing of "Angels" is essential before digging into this one, and even then "Kiss Me Monster" so full of campy in-jokes that one quickly gets exasperated. Here, our two beloved "Red Lips" chicks travel to the tropics for an "adventure" (I use the term loosely). I caught myself glancing at the DVD timer to see how much time was left--and it's a short flick! As a Franco completist, I own it, but I cannot in good conscience recommend it to the public at large.

Two Undercover Angels
Two Undercover Angels
DVD ~ Marcelo Arroita-Jáuregui
Offered by Clyde Parks
Price: $6.47
7 used & new from $4.82

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best place to start for a Franco newbie..., April 16, 2002
This review is from: Two Undercover Angels (DVD)
...or even the experienced, err, Francophile. "Two Undercover Angels" reminds one of a tall soda, appealing at first glance but ultimately filled with empty calories. In this film, two attractive women live together as a detective agency called "Red Lips." The redhead (Jeanine Reynaud of the far superior "Succubus") is the brains of the group and seems almost like a poor man's Jane Fonda. The blonde, whose name I forget, seems airheaded but is a master of disguise. Little information is given of their backgrounds, which might have been helpful. They investigate a series of strange murders involving an art gallery, and director Franco makes a cameo as a toady who angers his employer. A wearwolf-like man known as "Morpho" (a common name in Franco's movies) also shows up. All in all, it's a confused mess, although there is some eye candy to be found, mostly in the Mediterranean setting, the two female leads, and an extended striptease scene set to ultra-groovy '60s mamba music.

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