Music on Film Series: ELO Zoom Tour Live

7 12 2011

Copyright 2001

★ ★ ★ 1/2

After nearly 15 years away from touring and recording, the Electric Light Orchestra returned with the Zoom album in the early 2000s.  Though at times the band has consisted of nearly 75 musicians on stage, it is truly the brain child of one man: singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Lynne.  Ever since I began my journey into popular rock music in my early teens, I have loved ELO.  In my opinion, how can you not love ELO?  Just a sampling of their songbook includes: Mr. Blue Sky, Don’t Bring Me Down, Sweet Talkin Woman, Evil Woman, Telephone Line, Showdown, Can’t Get it Out of My Head, Livin’ Thing and Four Little Diamonds.  I could go on and on and triple that list with great songs, but I will digress for now; needless to say, ELO knows how to put out great, pop rock-driven songs with an interesting touch of classical music interspersed.

Anyway, as I was saying, they returned after a prolonged hiatus to release the Zoom album and followed it with a tour to support the album release.  Unfortunately, ticket sales were abysmal and they ended up cutting the tour short.  Before it was over, however, they were able to capture the tour on DVD and released it on home market.  The live DVD features lots of their classic hits, as well as a decent amount of cuts off the new album.  I was thoroughly impressed with how well Lynne’s voice had held up over the years and actually liked a lot of cuts off the new album.  Though the band was scaled back in size from its height in the 1970s, the 8-10 musicians playing on stage for the DVD were more than able to replicate the sounds from the albums.

Apparently, the general public didn’t share my enthusiasm though and after cutting their tour short, Lynne has returned to producing and working on other projects.  It’s a shame that we may never see a return of ELO on stage again because of what happened, but at least we were left with one bittersweet live DVD to hold us over.  There’s no commentary or extra footage really on this DVD, just the band performing their songs and, for that reason, I have given this live DVD three and half stars.  Furthermore, the camera work and lighting is just average.  The music is awesome, but I will agree it’s not the best live production I have ever seen put together.

So, if you are an ELO fan and just want to hear them doing live tracks, I highly recommend this DVD.  If, however, you need lots of extras and behind the scenes footage and things of that nature in your live music DVDs, then I would look elsewhere.  Finally, if you aren’t familiar with ELO and are perplexed about who the heck I am even talking about in this post, then I recommend you get on iTunes immediately and start downloading some of this bands’ greatest hits.



Music on Film Series Reviews: The Kids are Alright

3 08 2011

Copyright 1978 The Who Films

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2

Who’s Next consistently ranks as one of my favorite albums of all-time.  Because of this, it was only natural for me to be drawn towards what live Who footage there was out there.  For many years, my uncle or one of my brothers had bestowed a Best Buy gift card to me for Christmas; being a digital nut, it was always a safe bet.  One year, when I was about 16 or 17-years-old, one of those gift cards was cashed in for this two-part DVD.

The footage itself is not so much self-contained as it is an amalgam of footage over the career of The Who.  Footage quality varies widely from early black-and-white to slick live color 16mm footage from the late 1970s.  Intermixed with the live footage are interviews with the members of the band: Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon.  The film encompasses the band’s life from 1964-1978 and includes some of drummer Keith Moon’s final performances.  He would die of accidental barbiturate overdose at the age of 32 in September, 1978.

The raw energy of a band like The Who is hard to capture in concert footage, but I feel this film gives a valiant effort.  Especially worth noting are the later performances of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Who Are You” and “Baba O’Rilly” in 1978.  Iconic footage from these performances have made been integrated into many other media avenues since release including the 2001 Cameron Crowe film Vanilla Sky.

If you are a fan of The Who, then I highly recommend this film.  Not only does it capture the band’s life from early success until Moon’s final, tragic days, it also takes a look in a very unobtrusive way into their lives recording together and interacting on promotional tours, etc.  It definitely is a gem of compiled footage from a band that will go into the annals of music history as trendsetters and masters of raw emotion, both live and on the album.

Here’s one of my favorite tracks from the film:

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