DVD Reviews

Children Of Bodom – Live DVD

Chaos Ridden Years/Stockholm Knockout Live

Given that black metal bands are generally not renowned for having a sense of humour, Children Of Bodom are something of an anomaly.

During the course of ‘Stockholm Knockout Live’ – a full-length recording of the band’s recent show in the Swedish capital – you’ll be treated to the sight of a car as part of their stage set, and the sight of keyboard player Janne Warman gleefully grilling sausages over the pyro flames. Oh, and let’s not forget the music; songs like ‘Silent Night, Bodom Night’ and ‘Follow The Reaper’ sounding as gloriously epic as ever.

If you like Children Of Bodom but have never seen them live, ‘Stockholm Knockout Live’ does a pretty good job of showing you what you’ve been missing. If you have been lucky enough to catch them live recently, then you’ll more or less know what to expect.

For the seasoned COB follower, there’s the ‘Chaos Ridden Years’ documentary, which chronicles the story of the band from their mid-90s inception to the present day. Featuring interviews with every member, it’s a detailed and often entertaining insight into the world of the Bodom, complete with snippets of live footage and general booze-addled tomfoolery.

Combine that with a clutch of promo videos and a couple of other extras, and you’ve got yourself a pretty sweet deal. Check for more info.

Alex Gosman

DVD Reviews

The Ramones – We’re Outta Here

(Eagle Rock Entertainment)

Ask me who my favourite band is, and I’ll pick the Ramones every time.

They certainly weren’t the first band I loved, but Joey and his bruddas from Queens represent pretty much everything that I love about punk and rock n’ roll. Plus, they’ve influenced most other bands that I like, in one way or another, so forgive me if this review occasionally lapses into unashamed fan worship.

‘We’re Outta Here!’ is effectively a documentary of the band’s last ever show, at the Palace in Los Angeles on the 6th August 1996. The DVD footage will make you wish you’d been there; with a sold-out crowd going nuts as the Ramones tear through all those classics for one last time.

The band also had several of their friends along for the ride; so you’ll get to see Motorhead’s Lemmy joining the band for ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S.’, Lars and Tim from Rancid helping out on ’53rd and 3rd’, and Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder singing backing vocals on the closing ‘Any Way You Want It’.

The live clips are interspersed with various mini-interviews, which give an interesting and often revealing insight into the Ramones -both as a band and as individuals. Former members, producers, members of fellow NYC bands Blondie and Talking Heads, and various other famous fans of the Ramones all take their turn in front of the camera, along with the band themselves. There’s a certain aura of sadness that the band are finished, but also a great sense of pride for what they achieved.

The CD features a full-length recording of the show, with the band ripping through 32 songs in little over an hour. Sure, it’s no ‘It’s Alive!’ (the definitive Ramones live album), but the excellent sound, frenetic pace and Joey’s loveable stage banter are proof enough that this was a good show to bow out on.

If you ever saw the Ramones live, this will bring back fond memories. If – like me – you didn’t, then this is a fine snapshot of the latter-day Ramones live experience. Gabba Gabba Hey!

Alex Gosman

DVD Reviews

The MC5 – A True Testimonial

(Snowball Entertainment)
Director: David C. Thomas

This fine DVD documentary right here is the complete story of one of the worlds most innovative rock bands to ever bless this earth.

Detroit in the 1960’s catered only for the family that worked in the automobile industry. America at the time was under strict government control, life was becoming boring and youth culture started to rise above the demanding authorities and formed bands.

The MC5 in particular had an edge to them that made them stand out amongst the rest. They were unique in the way they delivered a new form of rock and roll that screeched its way in to bedrooms across the world, they had a sound that almost single handedly inspired the punk movement of the late 70’s and more to the point, they gave attitude out by the truck load and never took any shit from no one.

Once merged with the managerial services of local political activist John Sinclair who had formed the radical left wing “White Panther” party, the band caused controversy wherever they went with their music which alerted authorities leading up to the concern of the FBI and a barrage of police oppression that eventually saw Sinclair locked up for 10 years for possession of 2 spliffs of weed. The band went through their own drug problems and eventually split in 1972 just after living for a while in the UK where they managed to record ‘High Time’.

“The MC5 A True Testimonial” took 7 years to put together and takes you through the highs and lows of the entire journey that saw the band go from record company backing to nothing in a short amount of time, with words from band members Wayne Kramer, Michael Davis, Rob Tyner, Dennis Thompson and Fred “Sonic” Smith. It is an uplifting account of rebellion and a quest for freedom against all odds but also focuses on the demise of what MC5 once had. It tackles the feeling that 5 people have created to produce such a powerful message whilst race riots, the Vietnam War, censorship and political unrest permanently surrounded them and i can tell you straight up that it’s an incredible story!

So many bands have taken influence from the MC5, namely Iggy Pop and the Stooges who were their “little brother band“, Motorhead, The Ramones and the ‘grunge’ scene that exploded in the early 90’s with Nirvana, Mudhoney and many others. Once you discover the history of this band you will realise how much of an importance The MC5 once were and still are today.

You should try and find yourself a copy of this film online; it’s not easy to get hold of but its one of the best documentaries you will ever see, I guarantee that it will definitely make you “Kick Out the Jams Muthafucker!”


DVD Reviews

GG Allin – Hated

A film by Todd Phillips

If there was ever a DVD that could shock your system its this. GG Allin died of a heroin overdose in 1993 after a lifetime of self abuse and hatred to all human beings on the planet. His history was rife with anti social behaviour from an unstable family background and it was not long until he started to divulge into the world of punk rock, but GG had his own idea of how his band was going to perform in front of the public which caused outrage in Cities wherever he toured with his band The Murder Junkies.

Musically the results were a mess compared to other punk bands but they didn’t give a fuck as they had GG Allin on stage who would stagger out of his mind into the audience, who could never predict what he was going to do next. These spontaneously explosive sets consisted of puking and defecating all over the stage, then throwing it into the crowd whilst rubbing it all over himself as he stood in front of everybody in the venue naked.

He would ask the crowd to suck his dick and then kick the crap out of them one by one as assaults and fighting were part of the vicious live performance where GG walked into territory where he could simply annihilate.

These live sets were like nothing else you would have seen propelling him as a living legend. His following saw something of GG in themselves – the loneliness, the squalor, the government rules and the lack to live like society expects. Allin was also fascinated with serial killers and visited John Wayne Gacy various times who thought GG was special. The killer even painted a portrait of Allin as one of his own.

His controversy attracted so much attention that appeared on various TV talk shows in the USA including slots on Morton Downey, Jr, Geraldo and The Jerry Springer Show where he would spread his movement and promise parents that their children were his and had no power once they were introduced to his regime. Click here for a YouTube clip with GG’s last interview on the Jane Whitney show.

HATED gives you an insight into the pain, despair and violence sustained throughout his life with interviews, spoken word studio footage and the life outside of his reckless live shows that led his crusade for abomination.

It also features the last show he played at small club called The Gas Station in New York City. Once the power had cut out at the club, he went on the rampage, causing a riot in the streets and the entire scene from soundcheck to chaos is recorded throughout. The footage is undoubtedly mind-blowing to say the least.

He always said he would die on stage but fate got there first – about 3 hours after this show on June 28th 1993, GG Allin died of a heroin overdose in a friend’s apartment. His discolored, unwashed corpse was set in a casket with no make up, dressed in a black leather jacket holding a bottle of Jim Beam with headphones on.

You see the whole thing in the extras part of the DVD and it’s fucked up. It makes anything other rock and roll DVD documentary look tame and should certainly be one that you will remember as HATED is THE most fucked up documentary you will ever get to see.

Pick one up from here.


DVD Reviews

Exposing Headshots

(Overgreenland Productions)

Minneapolis/St Paul might not be the haven of hip hop as far as the global community are concerned – no doubt it’s the metropolises of Los Angeles and New York in the minds of most. But for those of us who like to dig a little deeper, it is the Twin Cities in Minnesota that are currently bringing the world of hip hop to its knees.

Austyn Steelman came across it by chance, on a visit to her mother, when she went to Fifth Element, a record shop owned and run by Rhymesayers Entertainment which is the core of the hip hop scene in the cities. The beauty of visiting this store was that at any given time any number of rappers or producers will be there, and in the case of this DVD, you’ll get to hear the views of Los Nativos’ Felipe from the store and see his freestyling with Eyedea.

The other people interviewed are Atmosphere’s rapper Slug, DJ Abilities and the mainstay of the Hecatomb crew and friend of Rhymesayers, Carnage. What this documentary does well is find out how the scene differs from the usual NYC/LA stories, with Felipe explaining how the sound differs due to the different scenery, lack of skyscrapers and close proximity to the countryside.

You are able to learning about their histories too, from Eyedea’s days with the Battle Cats breaking crew through to how they make their records, with DJ Abilities’ views on exploring sound particularly interesting. What stands out as a big positive for me is that Steelman has focussed not just on Atmosphere, the big group that are well established, but also the smaller acts, like Los Nativos who are a great group in their own right, and given us a more rounded idea of what it’s like to grow up and mature in the hip hop scene in Minneapolis.

This DVD is certainly one for the underground hip hop fans, so get on over to the website and order your copy right now!


DVD Reviews

Black Label Society DVD

‘The European Invasion – Doom Troopin”
(Eagle Rock Entertainment)

Black Label Society are definitely a man’s metal band. Not for them the dark romanticism of bands like HIM or the art-metal musings of Tool; these guys are all about the booze, beards and powerhouse riffs. One of the first things you’ll notice on this DVD is that whenever frontman/guitar hero Zakk Wylde isn’t playing his instrument, it’s usually because he’s drinking a beer.

‘The European Invasion…‘ is essentially a documentary of Zakk and his heavy metal brethren’s tour of Europe in mid-2005 (with bars, liquor stores and brothels marked out on their map), featuring over 3 and a half hours of live footage and various behind-the-scenes clips.

The first disc consists of a full-length show recorded at Paris’ Elysee Montmartre, as well as a handful of tracks from a London Astoria show. Right from the start, this is good ol’ no-nonsense, headbanging fun – a feast of prime-era Sabbath riffs and Pantera-esque grooves, topped off with Zakk’s whiskey-soaked howl and jaw-dropping guitar acrobatics. Sure, it all gets a bit repetitive by track 10, but if your stereo isn’t cranked to floor-shaking volume and your brain isn’t fully disengaged by then, then BLS are probably not for you.

The second disc features promo videos for recent tracks ‘Fire It Up’, ‘Suicide Messiah’ and ‘In This River’ (all replete with suitably dark imagery and plenty of fire/explosions) and various clips of tour and festival footage. Other highlights include a couple of interviews with Zakk,
a short clip of him lifting weights with his young son Hendrix (wahey), and footage of an almighty row between band and stage manager backstage in London.

It’s good to see that Black Label Society have taken the time to make this so much more than just another live DVD, especially given the loyalty on show from their patch-wearing fans. Now toss me a cold one, motherfucker.

Alex Gosman

DVD Reviews

The Pixies – Live in Boston

Club Date: Live In Boston/Acoustic: Live In Newport
(Eagle Rock Entertainment)

If you’re not familiar with the Pixies, then stop reading this and don’t come back until you’ve at least got your grubby little paws on a copy of the ‘Death To The Pixies’ compilation, and listened to it repeatedly. Been there, done that, you say?

Good – then go and read about how this Boston quartet became one of the most influential alternative bands of the late 80’s/early 90s, arguably paving the way for Nirvana and their ilk with classic albums like ‘Doolittle’ and ‘Bossanova’. Having originally split in 1992, they reformed in 2004 for a hugely successful world tour; and these two DVDs catch the band at two performances in their native New England.

For such a revered band, there’s a refreshing lack of egotism or grandstanding from Black Francis and co on these performances; just a few snippets of endearingly amateurish between-song banter that lend the outdoors Newport performance a certain intimacy, and give the impression of a band playing for a couple of hundred close friends (as opposed to lucky fans) at the tiny Boston show.

There’s nothing amateurish about the music though. Sure, the Pixies were never the most accomplished of musicians, but that didn’t (and still doesn’t) stop songs like ‘Nimrod’s Son’, ‘Bone Machine’, ‘Wave Of Mutilation‘ and the more well-known ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’ sounding like the bonafide alt-rock classics that they are. The lengthy set-lists on both DVDs are guaranteed to keep most Pixies fans happy, and the sound and video quality is excellent throughout. There’s also a mini-documentary and a recording of an early 1986 performance on offer in the ‘Extras’ sections.

Many of the songs featured on ‘Acoustic: Live In Newport’ have never officially been recorded in an acoustic form, and hence this DVD will probably be of most interest to the seasoned Pixies aficionado. Nevertheless, ‘Club Date: Live In Boston’ serves as a fine document of a classic band who have managed to bury their creative differences and re-emerge sounding as great as ever. If you’ve managed to catch them live over the past couple of years, you’ll no doubt agree; and these DVDs are sure to bring back some fond memories.

Check and for more info.

Alex Gosman

DVD Reviews

American Hardcore

(Sony Classics)

So, I finally got to see the anticipated partner piece to Steven Blush’s book “American Hardcore: A Tribal History” from 2001, where the author put into words his own historic take and first hand experiences from those crucial days of North American Hardcore in the early ’80’s. Blush is joined in production duties on “American Hardcore” (The Movie) by Paul Rachman, and you did read that right… this is a Sony Pictures Classic…

As with the book, the film focuses on the different emerging scenes across the States and alongside a heap of band footage and essential sounds, there are war stories and often humorous anecdotes from back-in-the-day with a whole host of luminaries who were crucial to the burgeoning scene… Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins, Keith Morris, Brian Baker, Mike Watt, Vic Bondi, Tony Cadena, Dave Dictor, Joey Shithead, Greg Ginn, Paul Mahern, Ken Inouye, Jack Grisham, Greg Hetson, Brett Gurewitz, Kevin Seconds, Harley Flanagan, Vinny Stigma, Shaun and Mark Stern, Jimmy Gestapo, Dave Smalley… and a very coherent HR from Bad Brains, plus his former band mates Dr Know and Darryl Jenifer… the live footage of the Bad Brains is one of this films real high points. What an amazing band.

There’s also recollections from the SSD guys, who are then reunited in the same room for the first time in years, which looks a bit tense but then Springa cracks out a whole load of old flyers and the ice is broken. Just don’t hope for a reunion though!!! Black Flag’s best known roadie Mugger makes an appearance and reveals how he cashed in his SST label shares and that helped put him through college, and set him up in business, and a very comfortable lifestyle these days by all accounts.

I had to do a double take when George Anthony from Battalion of Saints appeared on screen… he sure looks healthier than when his band played Brighton a few years ago. He was so wasted we thought they were gonna suck. We were wrong, and they ripped our heads off. Anyways, back to the film – and I could have definitely done without the super-stoner from Pantera telling me how intense Black Flag were, and I’m still not 100% clear if Moby did ever sing with Flipper, or not.

If I’ve got a problem with ‘American Hardcore’ it’s that for all the cool bands and music in it, I was constantly left thinking about all the shit that was missing… no Husker Du, no Crucifix, no Toxic Reasons, no JFA, MIA, FU’s… Freeze… Naked Raygun… and crucially – no Dead Kennedy’s. I shit you not. The DK’s were THE American Hardcore band… and one of the most important Punk acts ever. They took it national, and then global. Go read the interview on this website with Vic Bondi for more on why the DK’s were a non-starter as far as this film went.

There’s scant coverage on the vibrant and eclectic scene in Texas, and Canada’s only inclusion is DOA… no Subhumans, no SNFU, no Personality Crisis. It was a bit disparate at times when there are comments from interviewees (notably Kevin Seconds, Brett Gurewitz, Kim from Channel 3, Reed from COC) but no footage of their bands. I’m being picky here I guess. Importantly though, there was also no mention of the crucial publications that were the heartbeat of the scene, notably Maximum RocknRoll, but also Flipside, and Al Quint from Suburban Voice ‘zine would surely have made a decent contributor. And keeping on that track – some more of the artists who made their mark on the scene, like Pushead and Brain Walsby would have been interesting to hear from.

I’m in too deep with this music and its history, but overall “American Hardcore” is a decent representative film that is requisite viewing for anyone with more than a passing interest this firebrand music, much of which still burns hard on stereos across the world today. Go see it, soak up the classic sounds, and form your own opinion. That was the point in the first place… right!! for the trailer

Pete Craven

DVD Reviews

Levellers – Choas Theory

On The Fiddle Recordings

“Are they still around?”

A question that, it seems, is often asked about the Levellers; perhaps with good reason. After all, it has been a good ten years since albums like ‘Zeitgeist‘ propelled the Brighton septet into the upper echelons of the UK charts, and they’re lucky to receive so much as a hint of mainstream media attention these days.

However, the band’s focus was always first and foremost on their live performances; and it is arguably these which have most enabled them to survive out of the media spotlight. Their vivacious, inclusive gigs have kept seasoned fans coming back to see them time and time again – even if it means flying halfway across the world – and recruited newer, younger fans through that most simple of tactics: word of mouth.

If you don’t yet know whether the Levellers’ raucous blend of folk, rock and punk influences is for you, then the first DVD of ‘Chaos Theory‘ is worth watching to hear the band in their ideal environment. Recorded at a sold-out show at the Reading Hexagon earlier this year, features a setlst guaranteed to keep most Levellers fans happy, with a clutch of newer songs mixed in with old favourites like ‘The Road’ , ‘One Way’ and ‘Beautiful Day’. Sound levels dip from time to time, but otherwise it’s pretty high quality stuff.

The second CD is geared more towards the devoted Levellers fan; featuring footage of a 2004 acoustic performance at Buxton Opera House, as well as a clutch of Clash covers from last year’s ‘Beautiful Days’ festival (with a guest appearance from a certain Billy Bragg). There’s also a clutch of amusing band/fan interviews, the (ahem) wonder of the ‘Jez Cam’ and the band’s 1993 tour documentary ‘Part Time Punks’ thrown in for good measure.

Overall, ‘Chaos Theory’ serves as a fine document of Levellers career to date. Make no mistake, if they can keep up the quality of the performances on display here, then they’ll be around for a good few years yet.

Alex Gosman

DVD Reviews

Flogging Molly – Live DVD

‘Whiskey On A Sunday’
Side One Dummy

If you’ve ever seen Flogging Molly live, then you’ll most likely agree with singer/guitarist Dave King’s assertion that “on our day, there aren’t too many bands that can touch us“. With their raucous but heartfelt blend of traditional Irish folk music and punk rock, this Los Angeles-based septet have come a long way since their inception in 1997, and the ‘Whiskey On A Sunday‘ DVD documentary chronicles this journey in fine style.

It soon becomes clear that Dave’s aforementioned boast is born not from arrogance, but from a genuine belief in his bandmates and the musical chemistry that exists between them. A native of Dublin, he tells the story of his poverty-stricken childhood before explaining the various circumstances that ended up with his arrival in LA and the subsequent formation of Flogging Molly (and yes, the band’s name is explained too!). Each of the members is interviewed in a similar fashion; giving an insight into their backgrounds, characters and the details on how they originally came to join the band.

Despite the absence of any ‘Behind The Music’ style scandal, it’s a genuinely captivating film: giving the impression of an honest, hard-working band that have overcome music industry apathy and countless other obstacles to attain a rabid fanbase – several of whom are also interviewed. Naturally, the documentary is peppered with plenty of live and ‘on the road’ footage, including a clutch of songs from a triumphant, sold-out homecoming show at LA’s Wiltern Theatre. If you’ve yet to see Flogging Molly live, then this is proof enough that you’re missing out.

The tracks on the CD consist mainly of live and acoustic versions of some Flogging Molly favourites; the former convey the spirit of the band’s live shows surprisingly well, whilst the stripped-down approach gives the chosen songs a more tender, folk-oriented edge.
There’s also a previously unavailable studio recording of ‘Laura’ on offer.

Live DVDs with a clutch of (largely pointless) ‘extras’ are ten a penny these days, so it’s great to discover that Flogging Molly have put as much effort into ‘Whiskey On A Sunday’ as you’d expect from a band with their passion and work ethic. Whether you’re a newcomer, or a seasoned fan, this DVD is well worth a look.

Alex Gosman