George A Paul’s Last Minute Music DVD Gift Guide

by George A. Paul

With only a handful of days left to buy gifts for the music enthusiast on your Christmas list, here are some rock, pop and country DVD title suggestions to help speed up the process. Check Best Buy, Target and Walmart for ship-to-store options.

lady-antebellum_wheels-up-tourArtist: Lady Antebellum
Title: Wheels Up Tour (Eagle Rock Entertainment)

The lowdown: Filmed this past summer at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in Irvine, Calif., this engaging 100-minute DVD opens with backstage footage and fans excitedly arriving for the gig. Interspersed between the 20-song set are scenes from the pre-show VIP acoustic set (including a teenage girl invited to perform a song for Lady A), the country/pop group going over designs for the tour and more. The concert itself is sonically superb and visually brilliant. Opening with the stomping “Long Stretch of Love,” all three members display supple harmonies.

Much of the show delves into multi-platinum 2010 album “Need You Now” and the latest one, “747.” Among the standouts are “Bartender,” the comforting, acoustic-based “American Honey,” fervent rocker “Love Don’t Live Here” and slinky, grooving’ “Downtown.” Hillary Scott and co-lead singer Charles Kelley bring their usual intense dramatic delivery to “Just a Kiss” and their connection is equally riveting during “I Run to You.” Opening acts Hunter Hayes and Sam Hayes join them onstage and add to the fun. Also available in Blu-ray and digital formats; DVD+CD exclusively though Walmart. Information: www.eagle-rock.com

Lenny_Kravitz_Just_Let_Go_DVD_cover_lrArtist: Lenny Kravitz
Title: “Just Let Go: Live” (Eagle Rock Entertainment)

The lowdown: During the opening scenes, Kravitz says he always wanted to be in a band, but ended up having a successful career as a solo artist instead. Here, the funk rocker and his longtime musicians (plus the addition of bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, a veteran of David Bowie tours) emphasize their close connection through brief interview clips and behind the scenes footage while preparing to hit the road.

Primarily shot at the Bercy Arena in Paris, O2 Arena in Prague and Webster Hall in NYC, this 102-minute film features powerful live versions of “Fly Away,” “American Woman,” “Let Love Rule” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” backed by a trio of soulful female vocalists. Nearly 20 minutes of bonus concert footage is highlighted by “Always on the Run,” where Kravitz shows off his guitar prowess. Subtitled are offered in four languages. Also available in Blu-ray. Information: www.eagle-rock.com

rage-against-the-machineArtist: Rage Against the Machine
Title: “Live at Finsbury Park” (Eagle Rock Entertainment)

The lowdown: In late 2009, English DJ Jon Morter and his wife started an online campaign to get Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” to top the charts at Christmas instead of the latest dreadful winner from UK music reality series “The X-Factor” (which happened the previous four years). They were successful: Rage beat the competition by 50,000 copies and donated their profit to a homeless charity. As a reward to fans, the LA alt-rock band played a free show for 80,000 people at London’s sprawling outdoor venue.

Co-produced by Rick Rubin, with background narration by Public Enemy’s Chuck D, the 12-song set starts with the clarion call assault of “Testify.” Plenty of crowd surfing and pogoing commences as Tom Morello’s squelching guitar work is in full effect and Zach de la Rocha spits out lyrics. The band is equally intense amid “Bullet in the Head,” “Bulls on Parade,” “Sleep Now in the Fire” and “Killing.” They even cover The Clash’s “White Riot” for good measure. The Morters are interviewed for the bonus material. Also available in Blu-ray. Information: www.eagle-rock.com

Genesis_Some_Of_The_Parts_DVD_cover_lrArtist: Genesis
Title: “Sum of the Parts” (Eagle Rock Entertainment)

The lowdown: A fascinating DVD for diehard fans, this career-spanning, 90-minute documentary benefits from participation by both early and latter-day members on camera in the same room. It opens with the last Genesis tour in 2007 as Phil Collins says, “if we entertained people, then we’ve done our job.” The band’s story is divided into four sections and includes lots of rare live footage and images, plus album chart positions.

Some notable moments include Peter Gabriel admitting to hiding his outlandish stage costumes from the band until the last minute; how his concept album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” strained their relationship; Collins surprisingly acknowledging that despite punk rock’s goal to make classic rockers obsolete, he liked it and thought it sounded legitimate. Elsewhere, the film goes into their solo careers and Collins relays how the eerie single “Mama” was inspired by John Lennon and Grandmaster Flash! There’s nearly a half hour of bonus interviews from the guys, shedding even more insights. Information: www.eagle-rock.com

paul-mccartney_MusicCaresArtist: Various
Title: “A MusiCares Tribute to Paul McCartney” (Shout Factory)

The lowdown: Each year during Grammy Awards week, the MusiCares charity organization honors a veteran performer during their Person of the Year gala event in LA. In 2012, it was McCartney’s turn. An array of superstars performed tunes from his Beatles, Wings and solo career. Coldplay, Norah Jones, James Taylor, Alison Krauss & Union Station all do satisfactory turns and Neil Young & Crazy Horse play a nearly unrecognizable “I Saw Her Standing There” in their own gnarly style.

But the true highlights on the hour-long DVD are Alicia Keys – alone at the piano on a nicely understated “Blackbird” – and Macca himself. The British legend does a sharp “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Junior’s Farm” with his regular band, as well as “1985” and the “Abbey Road” medley alongside Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh. The sound and lighting are excellent too. Information: www.shoutfactory.com

Hall_Oates_Live_In_Dublin_DVD_cover_lrArtist: Daryl Hall and John Oates
Title: “Live in Dublin” (Eagle Rock Entertainment)

The lowdown: Despite a touring career that spans more than 40 years, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers had never played in Dublin until 2014. This release documents that 95-minute gig in fine fashion. A veritable hit parade, it opens with a jaunty “Maneater.” From there the duo does a seamless “Say it Isn’t So,” totally rocking “Family Man,” the sumptuous “Sara Smile” (where Hall stretches out his still high-flying vocals), a nearly 15-minute jazz-inflected “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do), “Rich Girl,” “Private Eyes” and more.

The guys balance them out with a few breezy, lesser known ’70s album cuts. There are ample crowd closeup shots, sharp visuals and sound mix. The 15 minutes of bonus material consists of interviews with the pair. At one point, Hall says he doesn’t feel their music is locked into a period. “People say it’s timeless and that’s how I react to it.” The booklet includes an informative essay by former HITS editor Roy Trakin. Also available as DVD+CD. Information: www.eagle-rock.com

J_Geils_Band_House_Party_DVD_cover_lrArtist: The J. Geils Band
Title: “House Party: Live in Germany” (Eagle Rock Entertainment)

The lowdown: There was a time in the 1970s when The J. Geils Band rivaled Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band as one of America’s hardest working rock groups. Recorded in ’79 at an arena show for the Rockpalast TV series, this DVD+CD runs slightly over an hour and is a wild soulful romp. Everything gets off to a wicked start with “Jus’ Can’t Stop Me” and some wicked harmonica work by Magic Dick. Singer Peter Wolf is a real live wire.

He does a jive talking intro on “Sanctuary,” while the Boston band rips through top 40 hits like the ska-tinged “Give it to Me,” “One Last Kiss” and “Looking for a Love.” The latter is an energetic standout, with half the musicians kneeling; then there’s the call and response action of “Ain’t Nothing But a House Party.” Their cover of The Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go” fits with the soulful groove. Information: www.eagle-rock.com

the-police_Cant-stand-losing-you-projectArtist: The Police
Title: “Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police” (Cinema Libre)

The lowdown: A companion to Andy Summers’ autobiography One Train Later, the 82-minute documentary is narrated by the guitarist with a self-deprecating sense of humor and features rarely seen footage and photos from his private collection. Using a non-linear format, Summers goes back and forth describing his early background, how the unlikely alliance with Sting and Stewart Copeland came about, conquering the music world, splintering in the early ‘80s and the highly successful 2007-08 reunion tour.

Among the bonus features are trailers, photo gallery, an audio commentary by Summers and five minutes of interview clips where he describes the band reunion as “an exercise in self-restraint” and “three fragile egos coming back together.” A must for Police fans. Information: www.cinemalibre.com

Melissa-EtheridgeArtist: Melissa Etheridge
Title: “A Little Bit of Me: Live in L.A.” (Shout Factory)

The lowdown: Wrapping up a full band tour at the Orpheum Theatre, Etheridge is a force of nature in this two-hour concert, which features most of that performance and some reminiscing. New Springsteen-esque opener “I Won’t Be Alone” finds Etheridge beating drums as she sings. Later, female backing vocalists give the older material added heft. Standouts include the pleading “I Want to Come Over,” exciting “Come to My Window” and Etheridge holds her own with any male rock guitarist around amid potent solos on “If I Wanted To” and a frantic “Bring Me Some Water.”

North Carolina folk/rock group Delta Rae adds jubilant guest vocals to “I’m the Only One.” Paired with Etheridge’s harmonica solo ending, it transforms into a fine new gospel/blues/rock hybrid. Bonus material encompasses interviews, behind the scenes footage and photo gallery. Also available in Blu-ray and CD versions. Information: www.shoutfactory.com

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