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Another helping of music DVD reviews

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Since we first published our inaugural music DVD review column a month or so ago, we've received loads of new music DVDs. Music folks nationwide are hitting upon what I call the 50 Cent theory, in which a visual image is packaged along with a musical product, therefore multiplying that artist's potential commercial viability. Smaller and more obscure bands are producing DVDs to make a few extra bucks while providing their hardcore fans with a different side of their heroes. Musical event promoters are documenting their festivals so that they may reap rewards from a concert long after the amps have stopped buzzing.

And then there's Hardware Uncensored Music Videos. The company has two products at this time: a collection of uncensored rock videos, and a collection of uncensored hip hop videos. The hook is getting to see all those uplifting videos without all those annoying black bars over the strippers' breasts and such. The hip hop version contains videos from Jadakiss, Eminem, Afroman, Shaggy, Sir Mix-a-lot, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, BG featuring Big Tymers, D12 and Dutch and Spade. Many of the videos are pretty tame. Eminem, it seems, fake-slaps his grandmother and cavorts with a stripper. (Yawn.) Afroman smokes pot with scantily clad women. (Yawwwwnnn.) In the Dutch and Spade video, two women simulate oral sex on each other. Naked. Completely naked. (Zowie!) Granted, nothing here ought to be considered high art. Hell, nothing here ought to even be considered close to art. Then again, you're not re-reading the above part about the oral sex because you want to watch some Chomsky lectures, are you?

Manna from heaven. A beacon in the night. An oasis in the desert.

All of the above might well be used to describe the new Pavement DVD Slow Century, provided, of course, you're a fan of the seminal indie band. The package's two DVDs consist of a documentary look at Pavement's career, every video the band ever made, three alternate videos, small segments documenting the making of said videos, some hidden gewgaws, and two live concerts. In addition, you get a solid helping of the band's instantly recognizable visual sense, as seen through flyers and album covers and various chapter headings (and no, they didn't steal it all from The Fall). You'll need to reserve a day to watch it all, and another day to clear all countless delightfully skewed, literate, and yes, meaningful songs the band's crammed on here out of your head.

Speaking of out of one's head, David Allan Coe has a new DVD out, titled Coe. Coe's built a career out of being an "outlaw," and still advertises himself as such, every chance he can get. And I reckon he is. Why, he plays a Confederate flag Gibson Explorer and cusses and has tattoos! He counts friends in Pantera and Kid Rock, and even plays some of their songs. Fans will like this release, for the above reasons and the fact the DVD contains DAC hits like "If That Ain't Country" (featuring the not-very-PC line "Workin' like a nigger for my room and board") and "Take This Job and Shove It" (better known as a hit for Johnny Paycheck). Coe, when he's not trying to shock or crossover, does have a better-than average ability to write slice-of-life tales that chronicle better than most the life of the working man. Problem is, he doesn't write a whole lot of them anymore.

After watching the devilish honky-tonk of Coe, sitting through MerleFest Live! is like listening to the angel on the other shoulder. A musical record of that festival's 15th Anniversary Jam, the DVD contains video snippets of Doc Watson performing with a wide array of MerleFest guests, including the likes of Earl Scruggs, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, Patty Loveless and The Kruger Brothers. Doc introduces every performer, usually with some comment about how "they're pretty good 'ol boys." Doc's in fine form here, the camera angles are great, and the music is crystal clear. Add in the all-star lineup of performers/admirers listed above and crisp chapter selection, and you have a can't-miss for Doc/bluegrass fans. If you missed him here in Charlotte last week, this is the next best thing.

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