Archives by month/year

O’Death – Broken Hymns, Limbs, and Skin

Label: City Slang (Europe)/ Ernest Jenning Record Co (USA) Format: CD

Broken Hymns, Limbs, and Skin - sleeveO‘Death’s stated intention with Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin was to capture the energy of their live sets on record, and anyone who has seen one of O’Death’s riotous shows will know that this is a hell of a tall order. The resulting album is a gypsy stomp barn burner, a chaotic celebratory oom-pah punk sea shanty set to wailing fiddles and crashing shards of scrap metal, an emotional hoe-down encompassing howling angst and Jesus-jumping ecstasy and whisky swagger. As for freezing an O’Death show and printing it on three and a half inches of plastic, this is about as close as you’re going to get.

Granted, at the moment we’re not exactly short of artists who earn their crust exploring the dark underbelly of

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Dead Kennedys – The Early Years Live

Label: Decay/Target Video Format: DVD,VHS

The Early Years Live - coverOriginally released on VHS in 1987, this collection of the Dead Kennedys live in concert and the studio finds them in fine Punk Rock form. As is to be expected, the sound quality of the gig footage (mostly recorded at Mabuhay Gardens 1979-80) is less than optimal, but at least it’s in stereo and captures the band’s tightly-whipped performances in the lo-fi essentials. One simple expedient to improve the viewing experience is of course to turn up the volume. As far as DVD extras go, they’re minimal – song selection, concise biographies for each band member after they called it a day in 1986, and the amusing addition of singalong subtitles for each song. DKs karaoke anyone?

Each track is intercut with short sections of handgun headshots, Ronald Reagan slapping Nancy upside the head

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Dead Can Dance – 1981-1998

Label: 4AD Format: DVD+3xCD

Dead Can Cance 1981-1996 - sleeve There is an air of finality about the title and contents of 1981-1998. With the dissolution of their musical partnership into separate solo careers, Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry are no longer Dead Can Dance, but as the extensive essay on the group included in the luxurious slip-cased hardbacked book (jam-packed with landscape photos) which makes up the packaging of the set observes, the band lives on through its music. However trite that may appear at first – all now-split bands or deceased artists exist beyond their actual personal existence together, barring reunions and the like – somehow it seems even more appropriate when considering Dead Can Dance, who practically embody the idea of timelessness in their uniquely overwhelming sound.

One of the aspects of the group’s career which is remarked upon in

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Various – Goth Box

Label: Cleopatra Format: DVD

Yet again, it’s a Goth revival. Only a couple of weeks ago, one of the broadsheets began proclaiming black as the new black. The old black obviously not having been quite black enough. So here’s Cleopatra, with a bunch of nostalgia and some newer stuff too. Companion to their immense Goth Box, the DVD opens promisingly enough with Switchblade Symphony‘s “Clown”- some Goth chicks wailing over some chugga-chugga guitar with a whiff of electronica… I kinda liked it.

Truly, this compilation ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous… Alien Sex Fiend‘s classic “Ignore The Machine” rubs shoulders with Christian Death‘s “Romeo’s Distress”… actually, scratch that… “Romeo’s Distress” is one of the good Christian Death songs. Having so many bad ones to choose from, I’m kind of impressed at the selection. Elsewhere we get Red Lorry Yellow Lorry (incidentally the first band I ever saw live) doing

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Senser – Live At The Underworld

Label: Ignite Music Format: DVD+CD

Senser Live at The Undeworld - coverI‘m never really sure how to review live DVDs. This is partly because I don’t buy them often myself, except as records of gigs or tours I’ve seen in person. But also it’s because they don’t really fit with my music listening habits. Thankfully, although I wasn’t at this gig, I saw them around this time on the most recent reunion, so the DVD’s a bit of nostalgia for me for a gig that was itself a warm fuzzy flashback to the Guildford indie clubs of my youth. If you’re not familiar with Senser, they were a radical homegrown equivalent to Rage Against The Machine or Body Count, with leftie lyrics and a twin-vocalist arrangement and dance-savvy sound owing something to Pop Will Eat Itself.

Fast forward eleven years from

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Rev Hammer – Freeborn John Live

Label: Freeborn John Theatre Company Format: CD+DVD (PAL)

Rev Hammer's Feeborn John Live - sleeveOriginally released in 1996, Freeborn John was Rev Hammer‘s folk rock opera about the life of English radical “Freeborn” John Lilburne, who fought in the Civil War and dedicated his life to liberty and freedom. A natural subject for Hammer, who’s carved out a niche of his own by being a folk musician not afraid to cross the boundaries into rockabilly or, less controversially perhaps, punk. A founder member (with Joolz Denby and New Model Army’s Justin Sullivan) of Red Sky Coven, he’s always been an engaging live performer and his debut album Industrial Sound And Magic is regarded in many quarters (including my house) as a classic.

Freeborn John gathered together such luminaries as Maddy Prior, Rory McLeod, The Levellers (of course) and Justin Sullivan and

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Method Man – Live From Sunset Strip

Label: Music Video Distributors Format: DVD (Region 0, NTSC), HD-DVD

Live From The Sunset Strip - sleeveUnlike most of their contemporaries, who play up the “gang” aspect of “gangsta”, the Wu-Tang Clan, while still retaining that element, always seem to be structured more like a superhero team to me, like some crazy kung fu version of the X-Men. Even to the point of spinning off into their own solo titles, although these days Ghostface Killah seems to have cornered the market in solo Wu stuff. Back when the “first wave” of side-projects showed up, arguments raged as to which was the best from a shortlist of three – GZA‘s Liquid Swords, Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s Return To The 36 Chambers – The Dirty Version or Method Man’s Tical.

Tical was generally the smoker’s choice, and by the looks of this DVD Meth

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The Levellers – Chaos Theory Live

Label: On The Fiddle/Proper Music Distribution Format: 2DVD (PAL)

Chaor Theory Live - sleeve detailThe Levellers are a bit like Marmite, really. You either love them or you can’t fucking stand them. I’m pretty much in the former camp, but, also like Marmite, I can go for ages without them. Then one day I’ll fancy some toast, and there’s nothing better. Sort of.

One thing The Levellers have always been is generous- long sets, free festival appearances… and this DVD is no exception. Well, these DVDs, really- Chaos Theory‘s a double, with a live gig at Reading Hexagon, and extras including an acoustic set among whose guests are Steeleye Span‘s Maddy Prior and Rev Hammer (occasionally part of Red Sky Coven with New Model Army‘s Justin Sullivan in case you haven’t heard of him, which you really should have- he’s fucking great).

The gig

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Ryoji Ikeda – Formula

Label: NTT (available exclusively via Touch) Format: DVD (Region 0, NTSC)

Sometimes, nothing satisfies quite like the immersive intensity of a minimalist audio-visual feast for eyes, ears and cerebellum, and Formula provides more than adequate satisfaction on all counts. Starting with the packaging, which is realised with superb attention to detail and layout, from the gallery-quality booklet on heavy white paper encased in a protective plastic slipcase to the spacious listings of times and dates, releases and installations, complete with schematics and hall diagrams.

The DVD menus are equally straightforward – white screeens, titles, links. The disc divides into two sections, Installations and Concert. The former has eight selections, presented in both stereo and AC3 Surround Sound for the full audio impact of works which were created with immersive listening in mind. So it’s possible to recreate the Millenium Dome experience in any space, suitable or otherwise, to repaint a

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Chrome Hoof (live at Dingwall’s)

Chrome Hoof at Dingwall'sDingwall’s, London 7 August 2008

Chrome Hoof at Dingwall'sChrome Hoof should be appreciated by the light of a billion braincells misfiring; by the sound of a world exploding, because that’s what they’re capable of resembling on a good night – and tonight is one such event. Though it takes while for Dingwall’s to gather the crowd they deserve, by the time the spangle-clad crew hit the stage, the place may not be heaving, but it’s soon a-jumping. There are at least twelve of the alien invasion force on the podium tonight, but lurking beneath the sequins and facepaint are – apparently – a bunch of human musicians, intent on sending out the space waves in a funk-metal style, like

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Wu-Tang Clan – Disciples Of The 36 Chambers: Chapter 2

Label: Wu Records/Sanctuary Format: DVD

It’s Wu, motherfuckers! Wu-Tang, motherfuckers!

And indeed it is. A 34-track live DVD featuring all nine of the buggers (well, ten, what with Cappadonna an’ all), all on stage at once!!!

It’s an oft-stated truism that the Wu-Tang live experience can be patchy, at best- members not turning up being the usual criticism, as witness the occasion at Brixton Academy in London when only a third of the Clan were present. But for this gig, filmed in San Bernadino earlier this year, they were there in full force. Yeah, Ol’ Dirty Bastard included. The presence of nine top-quality rappers and showmen ensures that there is always something to watch, always something going on, whether it be ODB leering his leer or Method Man chucking his blunt into the crowd; but it must have made mixing the sound a bitch. But no, the levels are perfect,

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