Oct. 27--After years of neglect by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Peter Gabriel and Deep Purple might just gain entrance to Cleveland's controversial museum early next year.
The two music icons joined Yes, Kiss, Nirvana, Cat Stevens, Hall & Oates, The Replacements and others as nominees listed for a possible 2014 induction.
But those listeners who can't wait until the ballots are tallied in late December still can find plenty to celebrate in the form of two new DVD releases, "Peter Gabriel -- Live in Athens 1987" and "Deep Purple -- Perfect Strangers Live." The former shows the ex-Genesis singer during his first filmed solo performance with a note-perfect band, while the latter shows Purple when singer Ian Gillan and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore could stand to be in the same room together.
Few musicians have taken as many chances as Peter Gabriel. The former, often-costumed front-man for prog-rockers Genesis quietly walked away from the group in 1975, which was, at the time, the British band's most popular year. Gabriel then embarked on a solo career that included outstanding, left-of-center music, as well as the more radio friendly "So" album.
Gabriel's "Live in Athens 1987" DVD finds the singer-songwriter on the closing nights of his world tour to support "So." Filmed over three nights in a scenic amphitheater, "Live in Athens 1987" was to be Gabriel's first concert film, and it is almost as powerful as Gabriel's immaculate "Secret World Live" concert film from 1993.
For the "Athens" release, Gabriel's stage is more stripped down, but the core band remains the same -- bassist Tony Levin, guitarist David Rhodes and the extremely underrated drummer Manu Katche. "This is the Picture," "San Jacinto" and "Shock the Monkey" arrive early in the set, with Levin's slinky bass lines locking in with Katche's impeccable drumming.
Not surprisingly, Gabriel is in excellent voice on "Live in Athens 1987." He sings both the male and female parts on "Don't Give Up," and his impassioned reading of "Here Comes the Flood" is three minutes of bliss. "Solsbury Hill," Gabriel's 1977 minor hit and the greatest song ever written about a musician leaving a major rock band, and "In Your Eyes" also comprise powerful, moving moments on the DVD.
Like Gabriel's recent tours, "Live in Athens 1987" includes just the right amount of theatrical flair without losing focus on a musical genius' songs. Sure, the video's moody stage lighting and camera work are impressive, but my oh my, what a voice Peter Gabriel possesses.
Made in Australia
Some Deep Purple disciples claim Purple won't ever top the band's "Made in Japan" LP from 1973, or even its 1996 "Live at Olympia" CD. But, really, don't all rock bands have artistic pinnacles, and don't all of those groups still have other worthy catalog entries as well? The Rolling Stones' greatest studio achievement is "Sticky Fingers," yet the Stones' "Let It Bleed," "Beggar's Banquet," "Exile on Main Street" and "Tattoo You" albums remain essential goodies for rock fans.
"Perfect Strangers Live" is the perfect example of how great an A-minus show from Deep Purple's famous Mark II lineup (Gillan, Blackmore, bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice and the late keyboardist Jon Lord) was in the spotlight. Filmed in Melbourne, Australia, on the band's heralded "Perfect Strangers" reunion tour in 1985, the DVD showcases a smiling Blackmore -- yes, it really is true -- and an equally chipper Gillan. Blackmore is an unhinged master on his Stratocaster, pulling out incredibly sustained notes, frequently scraping his pick across his guitar strings and summoning spooky vibes by dragging his Fender across a floor monitor.
A strong-voiced Gillan, apparently glad to be back in Purple following his short stint with Black Sabbath, also throws himself into the performance. Gillan belts out the vocals with authority on "Highway Star," "Nobody's Home," "Perfect Strangers," "Nobody's Home," "Smoke on the Water" and "Child in Time," and he's rarely looked happier to share the stage with the now-estranged Blackmore.
Lord also has a great night on the DVD, grinding out terrific Hammond B3 organ blasts and serving up some haunting, "Jaws"-esque sounds that kicks off "Knocking at Your Back Door." Glover's thick bass notes and south-paw Paice's aggressive, superb drum strikes also are prominent in the mix. Throughout "Perfect Strangers Live," Paice, who seemingly never has a bad gig, repeatedly demonstrates why he could play in any rock band from any era.
This DVD, like all of Purple's live and studio-based recordings, unintentionally serves as "exhibit A" on why Deep Purple belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The hall is impressive when seen and heard in person, but it would be an even greater entity if Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, Yes, Kiss, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Paul Rodgers and Roxy Music lived there, too.
(c)2013 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.)
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