News Column

New DVDs Hit The Mark Just In Time For Christmas

Dec. 8, 2012

Scott Smith, Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark.

Singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones defy critics -- and Father Time himself -- on the new DVD release, "Led Zeppelin -- Celebration Day."

With the help of drummer Jason Bonham, son of Zeppelin's original drummer, the late John Bonham, the band sounds and looks re-energized throughout the video, which was filmed in December 2007 during an all-star concert salute to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun.

The show begins with rousing versions of "Good Times Bad Times," "Ramble On" and "Black Dog," paving the way for do-or-die readings of "In My Time of Dying," "For Your Life," "Nobody's Fault But Mine," "Since I've Been Loving You," "The Song Remains the Same" and "Kashmir," among others. The haunting, keyboard-based "No Quarter" gets almost as spooky as the version seen and heard in Zeppelin's 1976 concert film, "The Song Remains the Same," and Jason Bonham grows increasingly impressive throughout the video.

The only flaws on "Celebration Day" are the occasionally murky, too-fat tones from Jones' bass and the overly distorted guitar from Page on the intro to "Stairway to Heaven." Everything else is absolute hard-rock heaven for Zeppelin disciples.

Queen Shines

"Queen -- Hungarian Rhapsody: Live in Budapest" is a terrific DVD of what Queen looked and sounded like in 1986, and it's more revealing than most concert films.

There are at least three subtle hints by lead singer Freddie Mercury and the band during interviews that hint at Mercury's bout with HIV and, eventually, AIDs. When asked by the media if Queen will return to Budapest to play future concerts, Mercury says, "Well, I'll tell you what. If I'm alive, I'll come back."

Queen, with Mercury, never did. That year -- 1986 -- was the last time they toured with Mercury; Mercury already was ill by the time they embarked on the '86 tour. Another interesting comment in the film has Mercury saying, "I want to make sure we're healthy to go out on the road again. I don't want to just go out there and do it."

The concert portion contains excellent takes of "Under Pressure," "I Want to Break Free" and "It's A Kind of Magic," and even the couple mistakes -- Mercury's voice cracks once because of his declining health and love for cigarettes -- have charm. Seeing and hearing the DVD, viewers will agree that Queen easily ranks among the finest bands, and Mercury's voice, preserved on Queen's albums and in this concert film, remains rock music's greatest male voice ever.

When There Were Four

The Who still are impressive live today, but when drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle comprised the British group's high-decibel backbone, not even The Rolling Stones could touch them.

Moon, Entwistle, singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist-chief songwriter Pete Townshend are found in terrific form on the new DVD, "The Who -- Live in Texas 1975." Comprised of the Houston Summit's now-primitive big-screen video feed, the disc offers a snapshot that is technically flawed but artistically brilliant.

Only two cameras were used that night, resulting in Entwistle often being obscured visually by side-of-stage amplifiers, but the DVD is the only (legally released) visual document of the original Who performing an entire concert. Entwistle's bass playing is majestic, Moon's drumming is wonderfully savage, Daltrey's voice roars and Townshend punishes his Les Paul guitars to create those perfect, wild-man solos and riffs.

Gabriel Hits the Mainstream

Peter Gabriel has never embraced the mainstream like he did with his 1986 album, "So," yet the record remains darker than many rock scholars might remember.

The new DVD, "Peter Gabriel: So -- Classic Albums," gives fans an insider's look at the making of Gabriel's still-popular LP -- "Sledgehammer," "Red Rain" and "Don't Give Up" continue to live on in Gabriel's touring set lists. Who knew that the soft-spoken Gabriel was literally locked inside a barn-based studio by producer Daniel Lanois when creative tensions reached unbearable levels?

Smile-Worthy Blues

Singer-guitarist Hamilton Loomis and his top-shelf band put a unique, peppy twist on blues and soul music on the new DVD, "Hamilton Loomis Band -- Live at the Hub." The inspired quartet launch into "Best Worst Day," immediately setting a sunny, feel-good mood that leaves ample room for eye-popping, instrumental chops.

Loomis, whose infectious sound is the aural version of a gumbo vat overflowing with blues-tinged soul and sweaty, funky rock music, is equally captivating during the backstage interview. During an off-stage moment, he discusses his time as a wide-eyed teenager learning from blues greats like Bo Diddley, Johnny Copeland and Albert Collins.


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