Review a Music DVD or Special

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Live in Phoenix
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Review a Music DVD or Special

Post by Live in Phoenix » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:18 pm

Most likely concerning concert films; musicals of the Broadway or Hard Day's Night variety; or TV specials, or even an old, semi-forgotten VHS release. (What about ____, can ____ be included? Yes, ____ can be included.) Reviews can be anything from interminable to a capsule review; ratings are optional.

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True Stories film (1986)

True Stories is the first Talking Heads album I ever heard, and I'd call it their 2nd-best album of the decade. The "Wild Wild Life" video, maybe the first time the band specifically got on my radar, was essentially pulled from this movie. David Byrne's film desperately needs to be powered by these songs, yet a lot of them are not even utilized well. "Dream Operator" is perhaps the best song here, but is not sung by a professional singer, and it just goes on like this throughout the movie, except for a few times when the Talking Heads record is relied upon. (As a severe cheat, a lady who lives in her bed simply watches the "Love for Sale" video in its entirety. Good song, anyway...) I couldn't tell you what Byrne was trying to accomplish with this thing which consists of little plot, and small town weirdness that is often not even of momentary pleasure. John Goodman, though he wouldn't put anyone out of business as a singer, is good in an early role. But just stick with the Talking Heads record. (There is also a cast record.)

If this was on Netflix, which it isn't, I'd rate this a 2 out of 5. Believe it or not, this thing made it to Blu-ray last year. I have no plans of getting it, but I do sort of wonder what I'd learn about author's intent, observations about filmmaking, why Byrne never made another film, etc. (It was in fact reviewed well, including by Roger Ebert, who I've noticed was little bothered by what might be called atmospheric movies.)

2nd opinion -- My wife, once the credits started: "That movie was terrible."

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Re: Review a Music DVD or Special

Post by Live in Phoenix » Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:13 pm

Graffiti Bridge (1990)

"Music is the power. Love is the message. Truth is the answer."

In the old pre-Internet days, as a youngster, I used to pore over the movie section of the newspaper; I seemed interested even in the movies that weren't reviewed well, and God knows Graffiti Bridge symbolized Prince's movie career landing with a thud. (Local paper's generous 2-star review: "It's really a string of pumped-up rock videos intercut with shots of Prince looking thoughtfully in the general direction of heaven or riding off on his motorcycle in the general direction of anything lighted with blue neon and splashed with water.")

Maybe if I'd seen this at a young age in 1990 -- instead of so many years later, feeling duty-bound after the man's death to watch "those other Prince films" -- I'd have halfway decent memories of this film, but oh well. Instead, I experienced a flat, amateurish film. The soundtrack received good reviews, but I was only especially impressed by "Thieves in the Temple" and "Round and Round." In particular, I really wanted the first and last song in the movie to blow me away. Hell, one of the songs here, "Tick, Tick, Bang," costs Prince his nightclub in a music battle with The Time. One of the very few nice things I can say about this film is that, thanks to Prince's overwhelming involvement, you at least feel like you're watching Prince, some version of him, compared to Elvis' autopilot films.

When artists are in their legendary phase, even a misstep somehow seems like part of the exciting story -- a testing of boundaries, of the artist's incredible powers. 1990 signaled the end of Prince's legendary run, and he came back strong on the charts with Diamonds and Pearls, but now everything would have to be framed in terms of a comeback. Prince seldom looks back, so I wonder what the point of this loose Purple Rain sequel was -- maybe it was a strategy to get the film made that ultimately hurt its standing and his reputation more. If you want Purple Rain II, go listen to the excellent 2nd disc from the deluxe Purple Rain reissue entitled "From the Vault & Previously Unreleased." (On a side note, Prince once bragged that he had 1999 II sitting around but he wanted to move forward. Michael Howe is now in charge of the vault -- find that thing, Howe!)

Netflix 1 out of 5

Bonus: A transcription of all Siskel and Ebert segments reviewing the four Prince films (including the well-reviewed Sign "O" the Times, the only one I haven't seen ... This film was not really available for a while, but I just noticed that it's sitting around for free on Amazon Prime video.)
https://prince.org/msg/7/396476

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Re: Review a Music DVD or Special

Post by Edre Peraza » Thu Aug 29, 2019 10:21 pm

Depeche Mode - 101 (1989)

Ever since I first heard the band they have been my favorite. Their influence is endless and I can go on an on about how their music changed the way music has done a lot of things but I digress. In the early 1980s, Depeche Mode was still ultimately seen as a young teen pop band that wouldn't last but as the decade progressed and the band released Black Celebration in 1986 and Music For The Masses in 1987, and they were beginning to be treated much more serious by both listeners and critics. The 1987-88 Tour that 101 captures was a turning point and changed the band forever.

101 is more than just a concert film as it also follows fans that went on tour with the band. This is probably one of my favorite parts as it represents the bands cult following outside their general fanbase built around just the hits. The concert filmed for 101 was the last show on Depeche Mode's Music For The Masses Tour and was a massive success. The concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA attracted over 60,000 people and proved that in 1988, the band was on top of the world. More impressively, Depeche Mode had yet to ever have a Top 20 album in America at that point, had only one Top 20 American single, and just one #1 US Dance single but still managed to sell out across America. On top of the success of the concert, the band was very tight and on point during this concert. While I believe that their live performances improved in 1990s when they introduced a live drummer, there is no denying that Dave Gahan and Martin Gore's vocals were sounding fantastic here and that Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and Alan Wilder has their synth parts down to a T. Unfortunately, a few of the songs played that night have not been played since but I hope someday they make a comeback.

While it is not necessarily due to 101, but 101 captured Depeche Mode at a point where they were quite quickly catching on in America and other parts of the world after being relatively isolated in Europe for most of their career. Their popularity was undeniable after the late 80s, especially in America because in 1990, Violator peaked at #7 on the Billboard 200 and in 1993, Songs of Faith and Devotion peaked at #1. The film is great at capturing the minds of both the fans and the band as well. Overall, Depeche Mode 101 is by far my all time favorite live video and album. Everything I love about this band and everything they stand for shines bright on this video/album. If you have not watched this, I heavily recommend it.
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Re: Review a Music DVD or Special

Post by Live in Phoenix » Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:32 pm

Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies (1993)

If you know about '80s punk, you know that some of it was intentionally tasteless. In a way, Allin simply took that and rock's wild man dynamic a farther step, but to this day, he is known as rock's ultimate degenerate. This documentary consists of some "shows" that only seem to last 1 song before everything falls apart, along with some interviews of Allin, current associates, and people from his dullsville small town past. The tone is set early on when Allin shows up onstage naked, pounding his head with his microphone to make himself bleed and randomly punching a concertgoer. His great, final act is supposed to be that he will die onstage (with some willing or unwilling fans) on a Halloween when presumably he's not in jail or in the hospital. Yet while the documentary is in post-production, he dies in the normal rock and roll fashion, from an overdose.

The "point" of GG Allin is brought up at times -- on the Gerardo show, Allin says "I'm trying to bring danger back into rock and roll." (Can you even imagine how Allin would have reacted to the hipster atmosphere of Vampire Weekend and Sufjan Stevens, or the mindless jock jams of Panic! at the Disco?) The freak show aspect is also mentioned, as well as the idea that you're watching someone vent all his pent-up shit, figuratively and literally. Regardless, you are left with the impression that Allin is a low-life, or maybe mentally ill, when, for instance, he attacks a woman at a "spoken word performance."

The music seems incidental...I hope. I admit that "Bite It You Scum," toward the end of the movie -- which one YouTube comment described as taking shit faced to another level -- seemed a bit catchy. I don't know if I'm prepared to find Allin's legacy more than very marginally redeemable. The Allmusic site actually gives him his own entry, though it doesn't seem to know what to do with him, giving 1988's Freaks, Faggots, Drunks & Junkies album 4 1/2 stars, while also declaring "Allin's entire output ranks as perhaps the worst music ever recorded." His debut album is described as "backed by a competent band playing Stooges-style riffs, and he himself is sometimes tuneful," so it's even possible that a dogged (misguided?) attempt at focusing on his music could yield some fruit. Warren Zevon's "Carmelita" somehow makes it into Allin's repertoire (offstage), and the documentary actually ends on an acoustic country ballad by Allin, "When I Die." (It's not mentioned here, but apparently he felt a kinship with Hank Williams, who lived an even shorter life. Also, even though you'd think that GG was hopelessly buried in his subculture not unlike the banana he at one point shoves up his rectum, a still photo is shown of him visiting a grave marker or such for Elvis -- rock's original danger to the community?)

Todd Phillips directed this documentary, and he has gone on to a surprisingly fruitful movie career -- he made The Hangover movies, for instance, and he directed the upcoming Joker movie. Apparently the Joker movie tries to "explain" the Joker, which I didn't think was a good idea even when the great comic book writer Alan Moore tried that tack. You can't make or know the Joker any more than you can make or know Michael Myers. To an extent, you can't make someone like GG Allin either, even if he is somewhat a product of his time and place. For comparison, Allin's brother and bandmate, who's barely more normal, has managed to stay alive and in music all these years, as has drummer Donald "Dino Sex" Sachs, who's rarely more clothed. The problem is that Allin's legacy is a bit stupid, and he himself is loathsome at times. At any rate, the documentary is not overlong at 50 minutes, and you won't exactly be bored. You can check it out on YouTube.

5/10

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Re: Review a Music DVD or Special

Post by Edre Peraza » Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:22 pm

Live in Phoenix wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:32 pm
Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies (1993)

If you know about '80s punk, you know that some of it was intentionally tasteless. In a way, Allin simply took that and rock's wild man dynamic a farther step, but to this day, he is known as rock's ultimate degenerate. This documentary consists of some "shows" that only seem to last 1 song before everything falls apart, along with some interviews of Allin, current associates, and people from his dullsville small town past. The tone is set early on when Allin shows up onstage naked, pounding his head with his microphone to make himself bleed and randomly punching a concertgoer. His great, final act is supposed to be that he will die onstage (with some willing or unwilling fans) on a Halloween when presumably he's not in jail or in the hospital. Yet while the documentary is in post-production, he dies in the normal rock and roll fashion, from an overdose.

The "point" of GG Allin is brought up at times -- on the Gerardo show, Allin says "I'm trying to bring danger back into rock and roll." (Can you even imagine how Allin would have reacted to the hipster atmosphere of Vampire Weekend and Sufjan Stevens, or the mindless jock jams of Panic! at the Disco?) The freak show aspect is also mentioned, as well as the idea that you're watching someone vent all his pent-up shit, figuratively and literally. Regardless, you are left with the impression that Allin is a low-life, or maybe mentally ill, when, for instance, he attacks a woman at a "spoken word performance."

The music seems incidental...I hope. I admit that "Bite It You Scum," toward the end of the movie -- which one YouTube comment described as taking shit faced to another level -- seemed a bit catchy. I don't know if I'm prepared to find Allin's legacy more than very marginally redeemable. The Allmusic site actually gives him his own entry, though it doesn't seem to know what to do with him, giving 1988's Freaks, Faggots, Drunks & Junkies album 4 1/2 stars, while also declaring "Allin's entire output ranks as perhaps the worst music ever recorded." His debut album is described as "backed by a competent band playing Stooges-style riffs, and he himself is sometimes tuneful," so it's even possible that a dogged (misguided?) attempt at focusing on his music could yield some fruit. Warren Zevon's "Carmelita" somehow makes it into Allin's repertoire (offstage), and the documentary actually ends on an acoustic country ballad by Allin, "When I Die." (It's not mentioned here, but apparently he felt a kinship with Hank Williams, who lived an even shorter life. Also, even though you'd think that GG was hopelessly buried in his subculture not unlike the banana he at one point shoves up his rectum, a still photo is shown of him visiting a grave marker or such for Elvis -- rock's original danger to the community?)

Todd Phillips directed this documentary, and he has gone on to a surprisingly fruitful movie career -- he made The Hangover movies, for instance, and he directed the upcoming Joker movie. Apparently the Joker movie tries to "explain" the Joker, which I didn't think was a good idea even when the great comic book writer Alan Moore tried that tack. You can't make or know the Joker any more than you can make or know Michael Myers. To an extent, you can't make someone like GG Allin either, even if he is somewhat a product of his time and place. For comparison, Allin's brother and bandmate, who's barely more normal, has managed to stay alive and in music all these years, as has drummer Donald "Dino Sex" Sachs, who's barely more clothed. The problem is that Allin's legacy is a bit stupid, and he himself is loathsome at times. At any rate, the documentary is not overlong at 50 minutes, and you won't exactly be bored. You can check it out on YouTube.

5/10
My response ins't about the movie per say but GG. A lot of people tend to take most of what he says seriously. That is the problem. In the center of it all, GG Allin is an extreme shock artist that loves to make people go wow. He is also a person with a clear love for hardcore punk and old country music such as Hank Williams. I know some hardcore GG Allin fans, one of them being my cousin, obviously he is not the most reliable source but he knows more than me. He has communicated with GG's brother and has said that according the his brother, GG was no where near as psycho off stage. Obviously he had drug addiction and loads of controversy but the vast majority of it comes from his lyrics and performances. Obviously we will never know how much of a scumbag he actually was but I am sure he was far from perfect.

I wanted to say something I found ironic. When he went on the Springer show in the early 90s, people in the audience were saying that they hope he dies and that they will cheer when the news comes out that he is dead. These people are no better than GG and are just feeding his act. I far from support a lot of his actions and words but would I have wished death upon him? No, because I see through him and it is clear it is all part of his act and character. I find him disgusting but interestingly so as people are so quick to shoot him down and act like he was satan. But even as a person who always stands up for human rights, LGBTQ rights, etc... I do not hate GG Allin.

And in the end, while his music is far from the greatest music, he does have a few well put together songs. "Bite It You Scum" is one of my favorite 80s punk songs and one of the most crazy songs of the 80s. His cover of "Carmelita" is also surprisingly well recorded as is some of the tracks off of the compilation, Hated In The Nation. Should GG Allin be honored for his views, no, but should he be remembered and studied as one of the most insane shock rockers, yes.
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Re: Review a Music DVD or Special

Post by Live in Phoenix » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:39 pm

The T.A.M.I. Show (1964)

(Who or what is T.A.M.I.? It means something like "Teen Age Music International.")

This is a concert film, taking place in California on October 28 and 29, 1964, featuring seemingly every pop/rock act of note at the time except for the Beatles: The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, James Brown and the Famous Flames, Marvin Gaye, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Lesley Gore, Jan and Dean, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Rolling Stones, and the Supremes. (And the Barbarians. And major Beatles nerds *cough* will notice a few very minor Lennon/McCartney compositions performed by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, including the hit "Bad to Me.") Jack Nitzsche makes another one of his random cameos in the world of music, here as the show's music director.

I personally found the white acts to generally be less interesting. This is still when white rock is in its surf music phase, or has a "I Want to Hold Your Hand" simplicity; and the Rolling Stones are still a cover band. (I was actually surprised that the Rolling Stones headlined the show. I guess James Brown was too. At the time, these pre-"Satisfaction" Stones didn't have a U.S. Top Ten hit, although one was heading there -- "Time Is On My Side." Keith Richards, not writing the tracks yet, gets an obligatory camera shot in the same way that a drummer will get one camera shot.) I don't know much about Jan and Dean, but I derived particular satisfaction from the Beach Boys following them and blowing them off the stage playing the same genre.

Regardless, just from all the names and talent involved, it's hard not to enjoy this show. The energy level from the crowd is great -- lots of screaming teenagers. There are uhhhhhh some well-developed background dancers. Amidst all the acts, there is one can't-miss performance that you've maybe heard of. I read somewhere or other about Prince once having James Brown's T.A.M.I. performance on a constant loop. Brown has a vocal intensity here that no one else in the concert knows about, and his fast-moving feet seem to be a separate entity from the top half of his body. On "Please Please Please," he takes the crowd that has already been at frenzy level the entire film and just turns everyone bonkers. At least catch Brown's act some time, which is available on YouTube. Going back for a moment to Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, you can make sort of a guess how these songs would have been improved by the Beatles by checking out the CD Lost Songs: Songs the Beatles Wrote But Never Recorded, as done by a tribute act.

4 out of 5

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