By Billy Gil | Posted: November 26, 2008
It’s tough to know what a music fan will want for a holiday gift. Gone are the days where you could buy someone a Tower Records (R.I.P.!) gift card and send them on their merry way. Sure, there’s still iTunes and a few remaining stalwarts in music retail, but it’s also nice to actually get someone something concrete, where they can open it up and say, “Gee, I’ve always wanted Journey’s Greatest Hits, thanks!” (Which, by the way, is available on DVD from Sony Pictures.)
So DVD and Blu-ray Disc are not a bad way to go. There’s rarely a shortage of music DVD to be had, and today is no exception.
Infinity Entertainment Group recently released the double feature Stax, with Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story and Stax Volt Review: Live in Norway 1967, at $24.98. The double-disc DVD has lost performances from the late, great Isaac Hayes and other soul legends such as Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MGs, and the Staple Singers, as well as interviews with folks such as Jesse Jackson, Jermaine Dupree, Bono, Elvis Costello and Chuck D. The historic Norway concert has performances by Redding, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Arthur Conley, The Mar-Keys and Booker T. & the MGs. Also included is a 28-page insert with history on the two documentaries and photos.
Just out this week is the awesomely titled Elton John: Tantrums and Tiaras, from Echo Bridge Entertainment, at $24.99. The documentary includes commentary by John and partner David Furnish, as well as deleted scenes and bloopers — I gotta see those Elton John bloopers.
Also recently released is the Smashing Pumpkins documentary/concert double-DVD set If All Goes Wrong, from Coming Home Media ($21.98). For longtime fans of the band (such as myself) who may be disillusioned by the frontman Billy Corgan’s latest shenanigans involving drawn-out concerts with insults hurled at audiences (check blogs pitchforkmedia.com or stereogum.com and you’ll see), it’s a vivid look into the other side of the story: Corgan’s struggle to deliver to the demands of a rabid fanbase.
Speaking of Pitchfork, the music Web site’s TV channel, pitchfork.tv, which debuted earlier this year featuring music videos, concert footage, music docs and more, has featured a number of films free to stream for a week, prior to their DVD release. Through the site, I watched the documentary The Gits (on DVD from Liberation Entertainment), about punk band The Gits and the tragic murder of its frontwoman, Mia Zapata, and the subsequent reopening of her unsolved case, which eventually resulted in a conviction. Check out the site for more exclusive music content.
And, speaking of girl bands on DVD, Rhino recently released Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains on DVD. In today’s day and age, it plays out endearingly naïve, but the campy girl-rock cult film would make valuable learning material for girls raised on Kelly Clarkson — that, or Girls Rock!, a documentary on Rock ’n’ Roll camp for girls, hitting DVD Jan. 27, from Liberation ($24.95). Here’s a trailer for Stains.
Dec. 16 Well Go USA releases Stomp Live on DVD ($19.98) and on Blu-ray Disc Jan. 27 ($34.98). I remember seeing Stomp perform when I was in college, but somehow with all the stomping and banging of trash cans, I still managed to fall asleep; perhaps this will be a good way to catch what I missed.
Coming up Jan. 13 (prebook Dec. 16) is Patti Smith: Dream of Life, from Vivendi Entertainment (DVD $24.98). The feature-length documentary with concert footage has been touted by New York Magazine is sure to be as stunning and poetic as Smith’s music.
For the more highbrow music fan, there’s High Fidelity: The Adventures of Guarneri String Quartet, from First Run Features (DVD $24.95). Don’t laugh; the reviews are great, and it has music from Haydn, Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven as performed by a group that has been making music together for 25 years. Also available from First Run: A Musical Quartet, a four-DVD boxed set with From Mao to Mozart, Small Wonders, High Fidelity and Turandot Project ($69.95).
For the less highbrow music fan, there’s Shane West looking cute as Darby Crash, frontman of L.A. punks The Germs, in What We Do Is Secret (on DVD from Peace Arch Entertainment), or — get this — Cardio for Indie Rockers! Yes, this $19.95 DVD, distributed by Ryko and releasing Jan. 27, is sure to exercise the paleness right off your favorite sickly bedroom songwriter or American Apparel cashier. Please send me three Ryko, pronto.