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Music DVDs

December 12, 2003, Music

Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues -- A Musical Journey

(Columbia) The PBS television series Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues embarks on a 7-DVD "musical journey" that begins on the Niger River, crosses over the Mississippi Delta, then winds its way from Memphis to Chicago to London and beyond. An all-star cast of directors, including Scorsese himself, Wim Wenders, Richard Pearce, Charles Burnett, Marc Levin, Mike Figgis, and Clint Eastwood, bridges all gaps between the country blues of Stovall's Plantation and its later manifestations within jazz, R&B, rock & roll, and hip-hop. Jam-packed with artist interviews and live performances, the 90-minute broadcasts are enhanced with hours of bonus concert footage and director's interviews. Whether tracing the legacies of Son House, Skip James, and B.B. King or reuniting Muddy Waters' Electric Mud Band to record a track with Chuck D and Common, this DVD set goes above and beyond the call of duty in its exploration of blues culture. -- Robert Gabriel

The Rolling Stones

Four Flicks (TGA Entertainment) Where there's smoke, there's five hours of music and 50-odd songs spread across a 4-DVD set. Condensed from the just-completed Forty Licks tour, Four Flicks' fourth disc has two backstage documentaries that reveal little but please the eye and ear. From theatre to arena to stadium, the Stones' appeal is as classic as their set lists, meaning you'll get favorites plus some ringers. Still, it's the extras that make the purchase worthy: Choose your favorite Stone (No Select-a-Lisa?), backstage cutaways, Dolby 5.1 surround sound, jovial band commentary, and more. Yeah, yeah, yeah, woooo! -- Margaret Moser

Concert for George

(Warner Bros.) ... Harrison, commemorating the Beatle's Nov. 29, 2001, death from cancer. Last year's 140-minute all-star tribute on that very anniversary arrives as a 2-DVD set: the 95-minute "theatrical," VH1-type special with forced interviews and cut performances and "the complete concert" -- complete with Ravi Shankar's couch-clearing 45-minute first set. Same glitch on the 2-CD companion, which edits out the single best performance, Jools Holland's "Horse to Water." Petty, Pythons, and Billy Preston's "My Sweet Lord" are "Something" prior to ukulele closer "I'll See You in My Dreams." -- Raoul Hernandez

Dixie Chicks

Top of the World Tour: Dixie Chicks Live (Sony) Clear Channel's public enemies No. 1, 2, and 3 take their cause to the people. From tantalizing two-stepper "Hello Mr. Heartache" to mall-country tour de force "There's Your Trouble" and Home chestnuts "Travelin' Soldier" and "Truth No. 2," the Chicks have never sounded better, mixing their formidable bluegrass-schooled chops with contemporary pop smarts. The editing-room joyride sometimes makes for several different costume changes on the same fiddle solo, but oddly enough, Natalie Maines' much-discussed "F.U.T.K." T-shirt is nowhere to be found. -- Christopher Gray

The Grateful Dead

The Closing of Winterland (Monterey Video) The Blues Brothers opened. Bill Graham was lowered onstage at midnight inside a giant joint. Jerry Garcia was thin and energetic. The Dead resurrected its opus "Dark Star" after a four-year hiatus. Pianist Keith Godchaux and vocalist Donna Godchaux were fired two months later. That's the backstory for this semilegendary 1978 New Year's Eve gig: Winterland's last stand. The show was originally broadcast on TV and never released commercially, making this four-plus-hour DVD more fuel for the faithful. -- Scott Jordan

U2

U2 Go Home: Live From Slane Castle Ireland (Interscope) U2 Go Home captures the Best Band Ever in peak Elevation tour form, spurred on by 80,000 rabid countrymen. Bono's in his element, wrapping himself in the Irish flag, saluting the Omagh bombing victims, and sending "Kite" out to his recently passed dad. The Edge, Adam, and Larry rip through the set like they're still in Mr. Hewson's living room. Bonus features include a 20-minute documentary charting the genesis of The Unforgettable Fire. -- Christopher Gray

Out of Ireland: The Hit Songs & Aritsts of Irish Music

(Red Distribution) Out of Ireland, an Irish television production from 1999, crisscrosses the history of Irish rock from the skiffle groups and show bands through Them, the Pogues, the Boomtown Rats, and U2, leaving massive holes. There's exciting vintage footage and a wonderful tribute to Phil Lynott, yet Rory Gallagher gets more time than the internationally successful Enya or rock godfather Lonnie Donegan, and not once do you hear Them's "Gloria." What's here is good, but no history of Irish rock is complete without that song. -- Margaret Moser

Peter Gabriel

Growing Up Live (Geffen) The Growing Up Live DVD documents Peter Gabriel's visually stunning recent tour, capturing a stop in Milan, Italy. By most measures, it's good, with decent video and audio quality, but by Gabriel standards, it's simply OK -- not as innovative as you'd expect from such a forward-thinking artist. Don't bother with the 2-CD best-of Hit. It offers little that 1990's Shaking the Tree and subsequent albums don't and is a clear label money grab. -- David Lynch

DEPECHE MODE 101 (Mute/Reprise) When D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, and David Dawkins capture 60,000 voices chanting Depeche Mode's "Everything Counts" through the Rose Bowl in 1988, it's a watershed moment in the uprising of the Eighties underground. 1989's 101 presages The Real World, showing five black-clad, spiky-haired fans following Depeche Mode across America to its 101st and final 1988 show. A bonus second disc captures the Pasadena show nearly in full, including the never-before-seen "Pleasure, Little Treasure" and "Somebody," and features new interviews with the band and three of those fans. -- Michael Chamy

Duran Duran

Greatest: The DVD (EMI) The yachts! The models! The table-flipping! It's all here in its unreconstructed early-MTV glory, including the hilarious "A View to a Kill" clip where Simon LeBon blows up a postcard of the Eiffel Tower. Even with "serious" later efforts like "Ordinary World," Greatest is a hoot, though not recommended for DVD novices -- the bonus features (alternate videos, interviews, etc.) are buried beneath menus harder to fathom than the band's "Planet Earth" wardrobe. -- Christopher Gray

They Might Be Giants

Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns) (Plexifilm) This lovingly constructed documentary about They Might Be Giants is comprehensive enough for obsessive fans yet accessible to casual onlookers. Adopting the same wry, tragicomic kookiness as his subjects, director A.J. Schnack follows the two Johns from their high school roots as they carve a unique niche somewhere beneath the intersection of collegiate rock, performance art, and presidential history lessons. Extensive bonus footage includes early music videos and an amazing 1990 Tonight Show performance of "Birdhouse in Your Soul" with Doc Severinsen & the Tonight Show Orchestra. -- Greg Beets

Tenacious D

The Complete Master Works (Sony) Before his hilarious turn in The School of Rock, Jack Black was one-half of the world's finest acoustic rock duo, Tenacious D. Start with the previously unavailable HBO episodes, which are a requisite to truly grasp the spirit of the D. The "Tenacious D on the Road Documentary" is a must-see for any rockers embarking on a tour. For more lowbrow tastes, check the three tasteless HBO short films and the Spumco animated video for "Fuck Her Gently." -- Mark Fagan

AC/DC

Live at Donington (Epic) It wasn't their biggest crowd, agree Malcolm (Bevis) and Angus (Butt-head) Young in the interview commentary that accompanies this two-hour festival set at Castle Donington Park in 1991. (Nor was it their best set.) But the crowd's as animated as the "25, 26" cameras that shot film, though by show's end, they're toast and Angus is still playing "Let There Be Rock." Brian Johnson, shrill since For Those About to Rock, is in good voice and even The Razors Edge material of the period is high voltage. -- Raoul Hernandez

Rush

Rush in Rio (Anthem/Zoe) Thank Brazil for making Rush in Rio worthwhile. Performing for more than 60,000 crazed fans -- who sing along to instrumentals(!) -- Rush rises to the occasion on this last stop of last year's Vapor Trails tour. Despite rain, no sound check, and technical glitches, the Canadian trio shines, as do the recording and video crews. Minor flaws like short-attention-span edits don't prevent the 2-DVD set (with documentary) and 3-CD souvenir from being great catalog additions. -- David Lynch

Coldplay

Live 2003 (Capitol) Shot on Super 16 film, Live 2003 showcases Chris Martin and company on this year's grade-A A Rush of Blood to the Head tour. A 40-minute documentary piggybacks the concert, and a CD version of the same Sydney show, featuring unreleased track "Moses" and "One I Love" -- the B-side of the "In My Place" single written for mother-to-be/Martin's girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow -- is also included. -- Darcie Stevens

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