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page added: 4/28/04

TAPNotes by Matt Rowe

4/28/04 - TAPNotes by Matt Rowe

Music fans, take note! I've run down a list of interesting music DVDs that we thought would be cool for all of you to check out. I've done some sorting and dashed off some comments in an effort to alert you to a few good titles that may have slid under the radar. Hey... it's a busy world out there. We're here for you.

Just FYI, all titles reviewed in TAPNotes can be ordered from by clicking on the cover art (as always, doing so supports The Digital Bits).

Joni Mitchell: Shadows and Light Joni Mitchell: Shadows and Light

Shout! Factory, that cool retro label that digs in and provides us with some pretty awesome re-issues, has released a serviceable Joni Mitchell concert on DVD. This concert is representative of her 1979 tour, and delivers a nice collection of songs from before her Geffen years. Included are over a dozen silky tunes including Hejira, Coyote and Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. The disc includes audio in uncompressed PCM Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 - both sound sharp. The full frame video is sharper still. The main extra is a photo diary from the tour.

What else is cool about this one? Jaco Pastorious on bass, Pat Metheny on guitar and Michael Brecker on sax, all cozying up to Joni's jazzy delivery. Joni is rather sparse these days, so grab this disc while you can. It's nostalgically rich. I was a mere four years out of high school when this tour unspooled. Who can resist that voice?

Watch This! Watch This!

Watch This! is a new release from the folks at Zoe Records and Rounder Records. It contains 8 videos from the current roster of Zoe artists and bands, including a rare video of Bruce Cockburn doing last year's Open from his You've Never Seen Everything album. This DVD begins with a storytelling I'm So Open from Cowboy Junkies and continues nicely with selections from Great Big Sea, Grant-Lee Phillips, Sarah Harmer and more, all rendered in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. We like it.

The Cooler Render: Spanning Time with Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco has created a career on non-compliance with the BIG labels, and has done quite well for herself. She's able to release uncompromised music as she sees fit, and let me tell you... she does quite a job of it. Ask anyone who has heard any of her Righteous Babe releases (HER own label) and they'll tell you, this girl embodies Rock n' Roll. This DVD release offers nearly two hours of raucous Ani, centering on her 2000 and 2001 tours. It's a montage of concert footage, backstage meanderings and, well... basically a swim through Righteous Babe territory. The music is there, but you'll have to focus on fast switches between concert and off-stage play. It's a bit off-putting at first, but if you're a fan of Ani, then you already understand her methods. The audio here is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Extras include a bonus track and a handful of bonus features like a camcorder segment of cats and plants. For fans.

Opeth: Lamentations Opeth: Lamentations

This gothic band has quite a lot going for them. The major surprise in listening to the first half of this DVD is in the melodic presentation. I was immediately hooked. Artists of Europe's gothic metal genre are known for their growling vocals amid usually extraordinary mastery of instruments. Opeth delivers a bigger, fuller plate than many of the gothic metal bands I've heard. And these guys look quite happy to be doing their stuff. This band was recommended to me by MusicTAP’s John Dunphy. And since I trust these Dunphy boys, I dug in. With melodic guitars and a great rhythm section, Opeth performs a show that definitely deserves to be on DVD. This disc was recorded from their Shepherd's Bush Empire show in 2003. It provides a connoisseur's choice of audio options, including Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround, as well as DTS 5.1 surround. There's a bonus documentary and 14 songs, half soft and half heavy. If you like this genre, Opeth is the stuff.

Slade: Slade in Flame Slade: Slade in Flame

The 1970s produced quite a range of exciting bands, with a lot of those bands coming from Britain. Slade was one of them. They enjoyed a ton of success with many Top 10 hits, five of which entered at Number One. Although much of their success was pared back in the more finicky (and less explorative) US of A, they still managed to capture the ear of fans, yours truly included. At the height of their fame in 1975, they released a film highlighting the shark infested waters of the music industry. This semi-fictional ride is an interesting look at both the times and the band. Can they act? Nah... but they sure can play. And it doesn't hurt this film any. Slade in Flames is more for fans than for complete absorption by the audience at large, but I'll tell you this: Slade helped to propagate many of the musical styles you hear today. Crazee? Maybe.

Okie Noodling
Okie Noodling

Okay... here's a weird one for you. Okie Noodling is a strange and interesting documentary look at the art of catfish fishing, with no hooks and no poles. So how do you catch ‘em? And what does that have to do with Rock n' Roll? Hang with me. The film is a look at Oklahoma fishermen who dive into creeks, rivers and lakes in the hopes of snagging a 60-pounder with... their hands. Yep. The film watches folks as they risk their lives by swimming down to the bottom dwellers and hoping for a "bite" by the whiskered fish, so they can “gill” these creatures and bring them to the surface. It's a culture of sorts and it features a colorful bunch of people at that. So where's the Rock and Roll? Well... there are 3 Flaming Lips contributions that can be experienced in a “listen to the soundtrack” mode, as well as interspersed throughout the documentary. Don't look for stunning Flaming Lips tracks here - this is rough music, but then so is the pastime. Funny stuff.

So that's it for my first edition of TAPNotes. I'll be back again very soon with more quick reviews of interesting and diverse music DVD titles. I won't ignore the bigger stuff either. I just want you to be aware of ALL the choices that can be found at your favorite video haunt.

Matt Rowe

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