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a&e  |  pop, rock & jazz

Scene & FURY

Various Artists

Remember the '70s:
Greatest Hits Live
(Shout Factory, 2004)

Imagine a 1970s version of MTV's Unplugged series, but with plugged-in instruments and a whole lot more polyester. This DVD, compiled of featured performances from the television series Rollin' on the River, features the likes of Ike and Tina Turner, Jim Croce, B.B. King, and - my personal favorites - Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" and Santana's performance during "Malo Suavecito." Also, no longer do visions of The Big Lebowski stream through my mind when I hear "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)." I now rightfully envision a brunette version of Kenny Rogers accompanied by his band the First Edition, all boasting some majorly feathered hair. If you love this music, you'll love this DVD.

Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama
Live at the Apollo
(Virgin Records, 2005)

There may be no better sonic match for Ben Harper's passionately ponderous, sweet-and-sour voice than the heavenly chorus of the increasingly famous Blind Boys. Nowhere is this clearer than on this DVD - recorded in October 2004 upon Harlem's grandest stage - wherein lies a treat that, fittingly for the blind folks, needn't even be watched to be fully enjoyed. The combo's There Will Be a Light album was last year's unexpected CD highlight, and this DVD presents all that and more. While the constant Jesus riffing may be irksome to many, I personally now can't wait to "make it / to the church on time."

Dead Boys
Live at CBGB's 1977
(Music Video Distributors, 2005)

The Dead Boys were part of the original punk golden age that coalesced around CBGB's in the late 1970s, and this is an entertaining 10-song set, professionally shot and edited for a television special about punk that, understandably, never aired. Lead singer Stiv (pronounced "Steve") Bators has a whole bagful of punk rock stage tricks, including pinning a slice of bologna to his shirt, then peeling it off and blowing his nose into it, then eating it, then picking up some gum off the floor to clear his palate. He's not all theatrics either, as his singing on such classics as "Sonic Reducer" attests. Guitarist Cheetah Chrome plays up a storm, and the band sounds sloppy/great. If you have ever wondered what it was like to attend a full-tilt punk show back in the day, this is as close as you can get without a time machine.

Iggy Pop
Live San Fran 1981
(Target Video, 2005)

This is Iggy in a tight black miniskirt, fronting a great band that includes Blondie drummer Clem Burke, and playing a set that includes such Stooges' material as "1969" and "T.V. Eye." What more could you ask for? Well, maybe a little more energy from Iggy, for starters. It's not that his performance is bad; it's just that for Iggy, he is somewhat subdued. Is it the drugs, or was he coming down with something? We'll never know, but in the meantime, it is still a punk blessing to have this fascinating document of the greatest lead singer and bandleader of the era backed by a tight, professional group playing great songs. So what if the album he was touring with (Party) isn't his best? This is Iggy, and you had to be there, and now you can. Thanks, Target, you've hit the punk nostalgia bulls-eye again. Put your TV eyes on this.
- CD


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