Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Marvin Gaye, various artists, and Pink Floyd
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Dec. 19, 2003
Riots and revolution, music festival spectacles, and volcanic space rock -- spanning post-Summer of Love to the cusp of Generation X's wonder years -- creak onto DVD amid a year-end tsunami of music-related theatrics. Jimi Plays Berkeley (MCA) might be slight in run-time (49 minutes), but the intimate theatre gig Hendrix played five months prior to his death in September 1970 flares up like the tear-gassed times. Little live footage survives, the film bulked up by newsreels of the UC Berkeley riots, yet Hendrix's electrifying "Johnny B. Goode" alone makes this a precious historical prize. The bonus, audio-only second set is best enjoyed on its CD counterpart, which combusts. Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight (MCA) is intact (95 minutes), preserving an uninspired set before a Woodstock-sized sit-in in August 1970. The "Sgt. Pepper" intro and soloing on "Freedom" and "Dolly Dagger" may not be compelling enough to make you seek out either the single or 2-CD soundtrack, but Hendrix's superfly getup and ripped-pants scare during "Foxy Lady" are brain burners. Slipping out earlier this year without fanfare was Marvin Gaye Live in Montreux 1980 (Eagle Vision), 100 minutes of pure, unadulterated soul gold. The singer's fragile voice wasn't suited to the live arena, but at the legendary Swiss jazz festival, with a band numbering the entire cast of Foxy Brown, Gaye is on -- loose, good-humored, playful. The set list is a crowd-pleaser, from the EW&F-like opener "Got to Give It Up" to Gaye's poignant Tammi Terrell tribute. Keep an eye peeled for the 2-CD companion. Jean-Luc Godard's Sympathy for the Devil (Abkco) is precisely what you'd expect from late-life Gaye: a mess. The French filmmaker's political hodgepodge from 1970 is 100 minutes of paranoid propaganda, which wouldn't even qualify as a cinematic footnote were it not for Godard editing in the Rolling Stones' Olympic studio session for the film's titular inspiration. Breathless, no, but Stones fans might pant. Floydians will go gaga for Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii -- The Director's Cut (Hip-O), which bolsters the 60-minute concert film from 1971 (also included) with a half-hour of computer graphics. The DVD sound mix is a sure Lasarium buzz, as is added footage of the band recording Dark Side of the Moon. Discovery Channel-type shots of the empty, 2,000-year-old amphitheatre Floyd plays to, plus documentation of the Vesuvian apocalypse visited on the Italian metropolis, sync up spooky to Meddle echoes. "Careful With That Axe, Eugene."