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Mark of the Beast

MVD

Mark of the BeastOne of the classic structures to horror fiction is pretty much the same as the classic “two men went into a pub” joke. As are so many things in life, chiefly among them instances of two men going into a pub. Get some broadly-drawn characters, put them in a place and a situation, work through the story, and then BAM!- hit ’em with the punchline. Jon Gorman and Thomas Edward Seymour‘s latest defiantly indie horror pic does this almost to perfection, and is all the better for it. An adaptation of Rudyard Kipling‘s “Mark Of The Beast,” it takes the unusual step of simultaneously sticking very close to the original text and uprooting the action from colonial India and plonking it down in the rural USA and making it dress up as a cabin in

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The Zombies – Live at Metropolis Studio, London

Conveyor (N America)/Salvo (Europe)

In 1987 I was trying my damnedest to reject the hateful and morally-bankrupt Thatcherite dream which seemed to be crushing everything in its path like some ghastly metal steamroller with Keith Joseph laughing behind the wheel, and instead recreate the psychedelic summer of twenty years before in Buckinghamshire’s green and pleasant pastures.

And, with plenty of sunshine that year, the release schedules of Bam Caruso and Edsel to be worked through, my first Purple Om and the Alice in Wonderland/Planet Alice nexus to take me on magical mystery tours (to dazzling, psychedelic Lowestoft!) and sell me ludicrous crushed velvet shirts, I considered that I was doing a halfway decent job of it. Barbara, who ran the local Student Union bar,

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John Fahey – Live at Audimax Hamburg 1978

Blast First Petite

Appearing as part of a series of DVDs from Blast First Petite unearthing performances on legendary German TV music show Rockpalast (see also [post=kevin-coyne-live-dvd text=”Kevin Coyne in 1978″]) comes a rare broadcast featuring John Fahey from March 1978. Remastered from the original video tapes, this is a rare opportunity to see footage of Fahey on stage, and the results are captivating.

Fahey arrives in front of the WDR TV audience to a brief introduction and no stands upon which to place the guitars he holds in each hand. Thankfully his embarrassment is averted by the reverentially lighthearted way his corduroy jacket is instantly whisked off his waiting arms as he seats himself at the mic, at once amusing, and indicative of the esteem in which he was – and is – held. Eschewing banter or introductions, a blue-shirted Fahey

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Iggy & The Stooges – Raw Power: Live In The Hands Of The Fans (video)

MVD Visual

This is the DVD and Blu Ray edition of a performance of Raw Power by Iggy & The Stooges‘ at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in September 2010, not long after the untimely death of founder member Ron Asheton. The CD edition included all eight songs (albeit reordered) from their classic third album alongside single cut “I Gotta Right,” and Alan Holmes‘ review of the disc can be read [post=iggy-stooges-raw-power-live-hands-fans text=”here”].

Leaving the musical content to the review for the most part, it’s worth noting that the sound on the video is excellent throughout, and the performance by the band is exemplary in its energy and vigour. James Williamson rejoins The Stooges onstage for the first time since 1973 to recapture his contribution to Raw Power, while Mike Watt continues to hold down bass duties which were originally taken on

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Kevin Coyne – 1979 Live at WDR-Studio L Cologne

Blast First Petite

I never saw Kevin Coyne live despite being a fan of his unique work throughout the seventies. With the absence of any UK TV coverage at the time, it was only with the dawn of the internet age that I chanced upon bootleg footage of his appearance on the German Rockpalast show from 1979. It was a great performance that reinforced my enthusiasm for the man’s music and happily the show is now officially available, remastered from the broadcast tapes, on DVD thanks to Blast First Petite. Although the quality is slightly better than my old bootleg, 1979 transmissions hardly compare to today’s HD standard, but then I guess most Kevin Coyne fans are probably not technophile obsessives.

On record, Coyne comes over as the unlikely progeny of Max Miller and Memphis Minnie, and the visual element actually emphasises

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Until The Light Takes Us

Until The Light Takes Us - DVD coverOK, first things first. Until The Light Takes Us isn’t really a music movie. It’s not a musical, for a start, though that would be awesome. Can you fucking IMAGINE how awesome that would be??? It isn’t a musical, though. It’s not even a movie ABOUT music, because while it DOES talk about the music, it moves swiftly on. It’s kind of a movie about musicians, because all its leading characters are musicians, but their musicianship is not really the issue – fuck it. Let’s start here. Let’s get that can, rip the lid off and chuck the worms out onto the newly-painted floor. Until The Light Takes Us is about Norwegian Black Metal.

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Gogol Bordello – Live At Axis Mundi

(SideOneDummy)

All ‘tached up and nowhere to go, here come Eugene Hutz‘s roving raggle-taggle band of gypsy punks, like an Eastern European (via New York) Pogues, raised on Rollins and Biafra instead of Strummer and Vicious. Dressed like a variety of seafarers, circus performers and drunks, the aesthetic is clearly a grubby one as Gogol Bordello take the stage with Ultimate. And, predictably, the crowd go absolutely fucking apeshit.

It’s hard to describe the energy of this band when playing live, but you can get a little bit closer with the live DVD in this rather handsome set (also containing a CD, of which more later). It’s still nowhere near the intensity of the real thing, but, like watching one of those old black and white videos of A-bomb tests, you

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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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