DVD REVIEWS

Harem Scarem
Raw & Rare
Vespa/Firefest
Stereo / Pal & NTSC, Region 0

A
[Visuals - A]
[Sound - A]
[Contents - A+]


Feature: 11 Tracks / Bonus: 16 Tracks + CD / Minutes: 140
Harem Scarem said farewell to live performing with their third trip to the UK for Firefest IV in October 2007. A lot was made of their performance – this is after all, one of the more debated bands in the melodic music scene. This DVD collects that performance and adds a sway of extra bonus material, making this an essential purchase for long time Harem fans.
The farewell performance was perhaps not the best way the band could have said goodbye to some of their most dedicated fans. The set list is missing several iconic songs and is shorter than it should have been and the track selection was more in keeping with what the band wanted to play rather than what fans perhaps would like to have heard. But, that said…for die-hard Scarem fans, just about every song is a good track and this performance doesn't mimic the already available Live At the Gods 2002 DVD.
The inclusion of a couple of new songs (Human Nature, Caught Up In Your World); a couple of Overload songs (Dagger, Don't Come easy); and a couple of Voice Of Reason tracks (Paint Thins, Voice Of Reason) mixes things up nicely with the Mood Swings classics (No Justice, If There Was A Time).
Harry and Pete seem to be having their usual fun on stage, which some fans interpret as being a little disinterested in the whole process, but if you knew the guys, you would know this is entirely untrue. It's a good set that should have been longer, but quality wise is a fine picture and a nice clean audio mix.
The Bonus Features include a home-bootleg of a 1994 Mood Swings show. The handycam capture is very rough and strictly for die-hard fans and the audio is nothing better than an audience recording, but…it does bring back great memories.
The European 1997 live clips are also bootlegged footage, but slightly better in quality. Again, die-hards only, but it does add more value to the package.
What is perhaps of most value is the band's own handycam studio footage and general tomfoolery clips. It offers a small insight into the personalities of the guys back in the 'heyday' and is a nice slice of archival footage.
The bonus audio CD of the Firefest set is a nice addition, but the audio doesn't quite convey the energy of the show itself, which is more evident when watching it.
Still…a great little package to commemorate this great band.

Zebra
The DVD
Indie / Zebra
Stereo / NTSC, Region 0

A+
[Visuals - A+]
[Sound - A+]
[Contents - A+]


16 Tracks / 200+ Minutes
I've been meaning to review this DVD forever. I don't do a lot of DVD reviews - just not enough hours in the day. But this one certainly deserves a mention and should any Zebra fans not yet own this - do so without hesitation.
This 2 hour plus presentation documents the history of Zebra and includes a full live performance from House Of Blues in New Orleans in 2007 – celebrating the band's 30 years together. The band set up the performance will some great interview footage before hand – reminiscing over the early days and some funny stories of how they got started.
It also includes a few special guest comments and generally is of great interest to those that have followed the band.
The live footage covers more than 15 songs and I'm pleased to say the capture quality is superb. The multi-camera recording shows all members of the band in equal light and the picture and audio quality are both first rate.
The audio mix is great and a very enjoyable greatest hits performance from the band. The special features include a cool look into Felix's garage of memorabilia and more interview footage.
What I especially like it some of the lead-in graphics and the way the whole package has been put together – it just looks very classy.
At well over 2 hours of material, Zebra fans should embrace this DVD without hesitation.

Hartmann
Handmade
Indie / Green Roof Records
Stereo & 5.1 / Pal, Region 0

A
[Visuals - A]
[Sound - A]
[Contents - A]


17 Tracks / 80 Minutes
German melodic hard rock vocalist Oliver Hartmann has released two very good solo CDs in recent years and right now he is playing a range of solo acoustic shows showcasing songs from both albums. This September 2007 recorded show features a full band acoustic performance rather than just Oliver on his own.
I much prefer this kind of unplugged affair – it gives the songs their needed power, yet retains the intimacy and passion of an acoustic performance.
This is a real gem of a DVD. The 17 songs have been stripped right back and Hartmann is in amazing voice.
The songs themselves were filled with angst and passion to start with, but in this setting, and being able to watch Oliver deliver certain lines just brings them alive even further.
The simple café setting is intimate and warm and the vocals are nothing short of fabulous. It may be a mood piece, but Handmade is perfectly recorded and captures the band and these songs at their very best.
It also makes for a nice alternative to the rockier solo album versions.Definitely a 'when the mood suits' kind of DVD, but when it does suit, it's perfect.

Night Ranger
Japan Tour '83
Frontiers Records FRDVD001
Stereo / Pal, Region 2

A-
[Visuals - A-]
[Sound - A]
[Contents - A-]


14 Tracks / 89 Minutes
Unfortunately this archive DVD is a Japan only release at this stage, which means expensive purchase price. But who wouldn't want a classic Night Ranger performance from 1983 in pristine DVD quality?
The set list from the band's first Japanese tour ever consists of songs from Dawn Patrol and Midnight Madness, so you get some deep album cuts there that haven't been played since (or rarely at least!)
Tracks like Can't Find Me A Thrill, Penny, Play Rough, Call My Name, At Night She Sleeps all sound fresh and energetic next to the songs that would go on to become all-time classics such as Don't Tell Me You Love Me, Sister Christian, Touch Of Madness and (You Can Still) Rock In America.
Few bands have the catalogue depth that Night Ranger has and few can also boast as many memorable hit songs.
The recording is a pro-shot release that came out on VHS back in the day and apart from the hair and the clothes; it stands the test of time very well.
This look back in time to 1983 is a fantastic reminder of where the band came from – spandex and leather pants and all…

Rick Springfield
The Beat Of The Live Drum
Image Entertainment ID1487LYDVD
Dolby Digital 5.1 / Region 1

A+
[Visuals - A]
[Sound - A]
[Contents - A]

Live in LA, 1985
15 Tracks / 71 Minutes
Is this an unbiased review? Nah, of course not...seriously though - this is a bloody great watch. I grew up on and wore out Rick's 1985 VHS release of this live Los Angeles concert. This is a solid Greatest Hits Live set, with 12 live tracks interspersed with 3 video clips (Celebrate Youth, State Of The Heart & Dance This World Away).
The show is energetic to the max and typical of a Rick Springfield show - crowd packed and frenzied, songs rocked up, band on fire and Rick running like a mad man throughout the whole event. Not to mention destroying several guitars in the process.
The sound has been digitally remastered for Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and sounds a million bucks!
The picture is also super crisp and clear. There won't be any wearing out of this baby...
This is my favourite live concert Video of all time and this has now become my favourite live DVD!

Harem Scarem
Video Hits & More
WMV Japan WPBR-90089
PCM MPEG-2 Audio / Region 2

B
[Visuals - B]
[Sound - A]
[Contents - C]

Video Hits is a DVD release of a VHS originally released a few years back in Japan. I believe some sort of VHS was also released in Canada, but I can't be sure this is it exactly. Lovely to see these clips on DVD.
The pictures are beautifully transferred and the sound is spot on.
Great to see some of the early clips from the debut album - these guys had some serious hair on them!!
Included is Slowly Slipping Away, Honestly, With A Little Love, No Justice, Blue, Die Off Hard, Rain, So Blind and 2 clips live from Toronto's famous RPM Club - Hard To Love and Saviours Never Cry.
I am really pleased to have this DVD, as I hadn't seen some of the clips, but will someone please release this kind of stuff outside Japan? At $35US for a 10 track clips DVD, good value really isn't a consideration - one for the die hard collectors like me!

Def Leppard
Classic Albums: Hysteria
Warner Vision 0927474882
Dolby Digital / Regions: All (Pal)

A+
[Visuals - A]
[Sound - A]
[Contents - A]

100 Minutes
Documentry
The Classic Albums series has been running some time now, but this is the first proper hard rock release they have tackled. And boy, did they pick a good one!
Hysteria is still my favourite album of all time. I have read the book, seen the clips, read all the magazine articles - and still, this insight into the album brings a ton of new details and information.
Interviews conducted with the band, interspersed with clips, studio footage and outside interviews make up the bulk of this presentation. It gets to the bottom of the Jim Steinman sessions, the delays in recording and all the drama surrounding Rick Allen's crash.
The beauty of this medium is that audio is included, so some original album demos are played back - a great listen.
This is a sensation look inside the making of a monster album and fan or not, I think this is an engaging watch.
I think some fans and bands alike should all go out and buy this and analyse how a great album was made.

Def Leppard
Visualize / Video Archive
Mercury 3145866339
Dolby Digital / Region: 1 NTSC

A
[Visuals - A]
[Sound - A]
[Contents - A]

Doco, Clips and Videos
Def Leppard are a smart band - rather than individually release all their VHS releases as DVDs, the guys have combined two on each of two DVDs. Visualize and Video Archive are combined on this release. They are straight video transfers, but the sound has been added in Dolby Digital for a perfect Stereo playback.
It's a great trip down memory lane to see all these clips and pieces of footage again, especially in crytal clear clarity.
Bonus material on this DVD is minimal - an interview and discography feature. Still, it's well worth upgrading the VHS collection to this - at a simple price. Now where are the remaining region's releases already?!! (Due in September I believe)

Def Leppard
Historia / In The Round In Your Face
Mercury 3145866349
Dolby Digital / Region: 1 NTSC

A-
[Visuals - A]
[Sound - B]
[Contents - A]

Clips and Live Concert
Bonus Clips
Def Leppard have combined two on each of two DVDs. Their first and second VHS releases are combined here - Historia and the Live In The Round, In Your Face. They are straight video transfers, but the sound has been added in Dolby Digital for Stereo playback.
In The Round In Your Face has aged a little bit since it's release in 1989/1990 - still a great live show, but Historia is still a cool view. Those early clips look real early now!!
Bonus Features on this DVD are a little more impressive. Included are the 5 video's from Slang and Euphoria, plus that interview and discography thing again. Ok, could have been better, but great to see those 'lost' clips.

JOURNEY
Live 2001
Sony Music 5452145-3
Dolby Digital 5.1 / Regions: 1,3,4,5,6

A
[Visuals - A-]
[Sound - A]
[Contents - A]

21 Tracks / 106 Minutes. Live Las Vegas 2000.
This DVD has obviously been out quite some time, but for the record, comments must be recorded!
Everything I have heard suggests that Steve Augeri continues to get better and better as a frontman, so I hope this won't be the last live Journey DVD.
The set is predictable, but very satisfying, with a run through of the bands greatest hits. The guys aren't the most animated stage movers, but the precision of their playing is nothing short of sensational.
Musically these guys are as tight as a goldfish's bum and the 5.1 surround mix of this concert by producer Kevin Shirley only enhances the overall effect. Monstrous!
The cut of footage mixes things up, with great shots of all the band in action.
Personal highlights are Higher Place and the heavy rock jam Fillmore Boogie, plus classics like Be Good To Yourself, Don't Stop Believin' and Ask The Lonely.
Not too much extra's wise, but a classic melodic rock DVD and an essential purchase for most.

Yngwie Johann Malmsteen
Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E Flat Minor LIVE With The New Japan Philharmonic
Pony Canyon PCBP 54098
Dolby Digital Stereo / Regions: All

C
[Visuals - D]
[Sound - A]
[Contents - B]

18 Tracks / Live With The New Japan Philharmonic
Once you get your head around the elongated DVD title, it's time to view it. There is no doubting Yngwie's talents. This time around he wrote and composed a classical score and has enlisted the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra to help him play it out.
Musically this is obviously not heavy rock, but it is intense. If you are partial to a little classical exploration and love nothing more than a guitar shredder at his best - check this out.
But I might recommend the CD version of the release. Visually, there's not much to look at once you have passed the second track - it's much of a muchness, with Yngwie throwing back his hair, looking intently at the guitar before him, closing his eyes in passionate expression of a new note. Plus a few shots of the orchestra trying to keep up!
Seriously though, this is good stuff musically and sound wise it's tight and terrific.

Cheap Trick
Silver
Warner Vision 0927434782
Dolby Digital 5.1 / Regions: 2,4

A-
[Visuals - B]
[Sound - A]
[Contents - A]

30 Tracks / 135 Minutes
Live from Davis Park, Rockford, IL 2000.
Everyone should know at least 5 Cheap Trick songs - that's just how influential this band have been over the past 25 years. can you believe it has been that long?
This DVD captures the band performing live to their hometown crowd, on a stage set up in the street no less.
29 tracks are included here - at least one track off every Cheap Trick album recorded, which means in one easy package, you get every hit the band have ever had and some killer album tracks as extras.
The sound is great - not as produced as something like the Journey DVD, but great in a different way. This is a little more stripped back and raw. But the guys sound great and are obviously enjoying themselves on stage.
They change things around a bit, by swapping instruments and rock about like guys half their age.
Essential for any Trick fan with a DVD player. For new comers - see where the nu-breed bands learnt their craft.

Tesla
Time's Makin' Changes - The Videos And More
Geffen 0694932379
Dolby Digital Regions: All

B
[Visuals - A]
[Sound - B]
[Contents - B]

16 Tracks / 90 Minutes. Video Clips / 1 Live
This compilation is Geffen America's DVD release of the previously released VHS title, which was released in conjunction with the similarly titled Greatest Hits CD.
Included are 16 video clips spanning the band's entire career, with 1 of those clips a live sound check recording and another in the studio. The rest are MTV fare.
There's nothing different from the VHS - the mix is still stereo, but it's certainly nice to have the clips in DVD quality.
If you already own the VHS, you would have to be a die hard to upgrade to this just for the sake of it.
If you are new to DVD or the band - this is a perfect purchase.
Tesla are one of America's finest no-bullshit rock n roll bands. Let's hope there are plenty more clips still to come.

Dokken
One Live Night
BMG 75517456249
Dolby Digital 5.1

C
[Visuals - D]
[Sound - B]
[Contents - A]

14 Tracks. Live
Another release I was pleased to see, but largely disappointed by. This is a cheap release - again from the original VHS issue of the band's 1995 live unplugged performance.
It's 'mixed' (not recorded) for 5.1, but sounds better in straight stereo.
I bought the CD of this the week it was released and have enjoyed listening to it ever since - hence the interest in getting this. I hadn't seen the VHS, but if I had of, I wouldn't have scored this. It's not the DVD itself, it's just the boring visual aspect of this performance. Very laid back, very placid.
Much better off sticking to the cool CD and playing it while driving or otherwise occupied.

Almost Famous
Director's Cut
Columbia Tristar
DTS 5.1 / Regions: 1,2

A+
[Visuals - A]
[Sound - A]
[Contents - A]

118 Minutes / Disc 2 155 Minutes
Movie And Bonus Features
If this isn't the greatest rock n roll movie of all time - then what is? Cameron Crowe is a master of his domain (I'll forgive him for Vanilla Sky shortly).
Almost Famous is the part fictional story of his own rise to prominence, as a rock critic for Rolling Stone magazine.
The story sees a young Crowe on his first assignment - out on the road with the fictional Stillwater, the hottest band of the time. Folklaw suggests that the real life band was in fact Lynyrd Skynyrd.
This directors cut offers so much more for the fans of the original movie. Non rock n roll heads might think 2.5+ hours is a bit long, but the rest of us know it only just gets started!
An involving and enduring story of life on the road that could be appreciated by all, but worshiped by us dedicated rock heads.
The extra's package and bonus directors cut version packaged in one sweet 2-Disc set makes this an essential purchase.