News Column

Review: Time Doesn't Diminish Legends

November 29, 2013

YellowBrix

Nov. 29--The passing decades have failed to diminish the popularity and recorded work of three of rock's biggest icons.

New DVD releases of The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix will make much more than stocking stuffers for anyone wishing to celebrate the legacies of these unique talents. "The Rolling Stones -- Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live," "Black Sabbath -- Live ... Gathered in Their Masses" and "Jimi Hendrix -- Hear My Train A Comin'" each hit inches away from the bull's-eye, capturing much of the essence of these important acts.

Hyde Park Calling

The Rolling Stones are continuing their short-but-successful 50th-anniversary tour, and Black Sabbath is embarking on the second leg of its 2013-14 World Tour. Despite ignoring the central region of the United States, the tours have been cited by critics and fans as artistic, near-peerless triumphs. "Sweet Summer Sun" shows the Stones to be in impressive shape, with Mick Jagger's past, baritone concert voice giving way to a more natural, higher register on the set-opening "Start Me Up."

The graying, pirate-like Keith Richards, who is smiling much more than he ever did in any previous Stones concert film, continues to serve as the band's co-anchor with underrated drummer Charlie Watts. Richards' guitar style rotates from gentle strokes to barking, earthy string-slashing, while Ron Wood's six-string abilities serve as the always dependable counterpoint.

Guitarist Mick Taylor, who replaced original Stone Brian Jones in 1969 before leaving under hushed circumstances in 1974, acts as special guest on the bumping and grinding "Midnight Rambler" and a snappy encore take of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Wood, always the team player, beams while he, Taylor and Richards weave their guitar parts together, while longtime bassist Darryl Jones works his four-string wonder on "Doom and Gloom," "Emotional Rescue" and "It's Only Rock and Roll."

Sabbath Stays Heavy, Impressive

Like Richards, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi acts as the sonic and visual heart on "Live ... Gathered in Their Masses," meshing brilliantly with Geezer Butler's active, inventive bass lines. The DVD comes with two big surprises that will shock fans before pleasing them. First, singer Ozzy Osbourne does the exact same thing on the DVD as he did during his 2011 concert in Tulsa -- he refuses to use a lyrics teleprompter as a crutch. Only a few times can rock's self-proclaimed Prince of Darkness be seen relying on a hidden source to remember lyrics.

Although the DVD lacks original Sabbath drummer Bill Ward's presence, Osbourne's solo-band drummer, Tommy Clufetos, steps up to the plate as a champ. Yes, it would been great and fitting to have Ward on the drum set, but Ward's pre-tour spat with Sabbath over a "signable contract" sadly prevented an original-lineup reunion on the tour and on Sabbath's recent "13" album.

Regardless, a headband-wearing Clufetos rises to the high-volume occasion on "Live ... Gathered in Their Masses." Ironically resembling Ward circa 1976, Clufetos adds just enough of his style without performing sacrilege on Ward's original, jazz-meets-heavy-metal drum patterns.

Hendrix's Experience

Jimi Hendrix fans will be rejoicing past Christmas with the release of "Hear My Train A Comin'" DVD, which includes a feature-length documentary and previously unreleased concert footage. The spectacular, on-stage performances are taken from Hendrix's gigs at the Miami Pop Festival in 1968, the New York Pop Festival in 1970 and the Love & Peace Festival in 1970.

The documentary itself is solid. Bassist Billy Cox, Hendrix's old Army buddy who ended up playing with Hendrix at Woodstock and in the funky Band of Gypsys, reminisces about his friendship with the artist who many claim to still be rock's greatest guitarist. As Cox talks, an unintentionally sobering moment occurs. With Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding and drummers Mitch Mitchell and Buddy Miles now dead, Cox is the sole surviving musician from Hendrix's bands.

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(c)2013 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.)

Visit Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) at www.swtimes.com

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