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Oil City Confidential

Cadiz Music

oil city confidentialAlthough Julien Temple’s film about pub-rock heroes Dr Feelgood dates from 2009, it is only now receiving a DVD release (through Cadiz Music) in the US, and it’s this new edition that is reviewed here, although I’m not aware of any difference between this and the original release.

Nevertheless, the fact that this is intended for an American market immediately invites focus on an intriguing aspect of the high-energy four-piece who were, for a brief period circa 1975-77, one of the biggest live draws in the UK: the way in which their music, rooted almost entirely in American styles and tropes, was nevertheless a peculiarly British phenomenon. Indeed one can narrow the locale down much further than that, to Canvey Island, Essex: a bleakly atmospheric place

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Magma – Epok 5: Mythes & Legendes


Magma - Epok 5: Mythes & LegendesFive DVDs into Magma‘s series of live sessions at Le Triton,we find the pioneers of Zeuhl way out there beyond the Theusz Hamtaahk trilogy and exploring some of the stranger byways of their œuvre along with some dazzling new material. The entire programme runs to about two hours. There are a few interludes during which audience members, including Steve Davis, are interviewed about their relationship to the Magma legend, but mostly what you get is an all you can eat feast of pitch-perfect Magma.

There are two numbers from 1978’s Attahk album, “Dondai” and Maahnt,” as well as an opener entitled “Attahk (Retrovision)” which was not actually part of that album but is a composition from the same period. Digging further back there is “Rïah Sahïltaahk” from the 1001° Centigrade album from 1971, and

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Bath Salt Zombies

MVD Video

Bath Salt ZombiesBath Salt Zombies sets out its stall pretty early on; which is just as well, seeing as how it’s probably not really for everyone. It opens with a great animated spoof public information film about the dangers of bath salts (the drug, not the actual toiletries) which sees a trashy teen given the drug by a foul-mouthed Satan, with predictable murderous consequences. By the time the announcer says “Bath salts may seem like a crackerjack time, but believe you me, sonny Jim, they’re nothing but a menace”, you’ll probably have a fair idea of whether you’re going to like this one or not. And then, before the opening credits, we get some drugs, some gratuitous nudity, a couple of murders and an idea of just how low-budget this movie is.

And it’s REALLY low-budget. Think somewhere between

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Van der Graaf Generator – Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London

Convexe (N America)/Salvo (Europe)

Van Der Graaf Generator ‎Live In Concert At MetropolisAt the end of 2010, the Metropolis television company organized a series of intimate concerts at their London studios, each showcasing a ‘heritage’ act to 140 people, each of who paid £175 for the privilege. Apparently a glass of champagne and a meeting with the artist was also included in this price. The series included Caravan, Barclay James Harvest, The Zombies, Roy Harper, Bill Nelson and Van der Graaf Generator. The idea was to professionally film the performances in a studio environment and broadcast them on national TV. Each audience member would get a DVD of the show, which would then made available to the public at some later date.

In the event, the TV showings never materialized, with DVD

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Mark of the Beast


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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The Karindula Sessions: Tradi-Modern Sounds from Southeast Congo

Crammed Discs

To borrow the imprecation that Debbie Harry once sang so passionately in 1978, “Picture this.” However, rather than a sky full of thunder, or for that matter Debs’ telephone number (wistful sigh…), try instead a giant sit-on banjo constructed from an oil drum, a goat, an empty bag of powdered milk and some strings. For a finishing touch, decorate the neck and body of this Heath Robinson musical contraption with band names (in the manner of a rock band’s kick drum), slogans and even designs like a near Magen David. With me so far? Good, because what you are now holding in your mind’s eye is known, in southeastern Congo, as a karindula. Over the border into Zambia they call it a kalindula, but it seems rather churlish to worry about a single stray consonant when we’re so deep into

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Faust – Live at Klangbad Festival/Various Artists – Avant-Garde in the Meadows

Play Loud!

Faust - Live at Klangbad FestivalAlthough this DVD was released in late 2010, the footage — shot at the second annual festival held in Scheer, southern Germany — dates from 2005. Scheer is a small provincial town that since the late 90s has been the headquarters of Faust (or rather one of the two Faust factions, this being the one grouped around keyboardist Jochen Irmler and the Klangbad label). There are actually two films on the disc — a 70 minute record of Faust’s performance at the event, and a slightly longer film titled Avant-Garde in the Meadows which gives an overview of the festival’s three days.

The Faust performance features the aforementioned Jochen Irmler and one other figure from the group’s early ’70s origins, Arnulf Meifert, apparently absent from Faustian circles for many

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Paolo Angeli – Tibi/Fred Frith – Live in Japan

Paolo Angeli – TibiFred Frith - Live in JapanThere are four main ways of making music that sounds different to anyone else: by devising your own conceptual framework; using rare or unique instruments and equipment; developing an unusual approach to your instrument; or by training until your technique is broader, faster or more specialised than that of other players. Depending on your level of insecurity you may reinforce these with deliberate obfuscation, whether that entails removing the labels from your vinyl, claiming that you don’t understand or aren’t interested in your own process or ability, hiding your equipment or simply not answering questions. It depends whether or not you’re afraid of the competition or you think you’re the kind of person who’s only going to have one decent idea in your lifetime…

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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


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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