May 2003


It says UNCENSORED across the front of the box, so you know it's going to be, uh, interesting. Hot chick goes into a dirty nightclub populated by the usual freaks and dorks and eyelinered weirdos, notices that everyone is wearing those stupid cat-eye contact lenses, then makes out with a topless chick who is dancing with a big-ass snake wrapped around her torso. Ferry Corsten's song "Punk" blazes in the background, with a neato synth line taking the pole position. So to speak. The song is quite good and there are no stupid vocals to ruin it. The DVD contains the "Punk" video plus a handful of audio remixes of the same song. Moonshine also threw on a couple of trailers for other music DVDs they have out, which look equally, um, interesting. Overall, not a bad way to kill eight bucks.
Ian C Stewart

Live In London

This is a new release of a concert shot in 1998 in London, Ohio right by the prison over there. Duh, London England. The Lyceum, in fact, which was last seen on the 1984 home video classic, W.A.S.P. Live At Lyceum. Sadly, no traces of Blackie Lawless have remained to haunt the Mick Hucknall performance documented within. And what a performance it is, showbiz fans. Although Simply Red was a two-hit wonder in the US, everywhere else in the world they've continuously cranked out top-selling albums and singles every couple of years. So there's a lot of ecstatic audience participation on many of the songs. As you can imagine. The concert is monumentally long, with twenty six songs. The set begins with "Sad Old Red," from the 1986 debut, Picture Book. And then it slows down into the slow-dub (no, really) vibe of the song "Picture Book," which has always been a personal favorite. Aren't you glad you asked? From there on, it's a nonstop cavalcade of hits, with several surprises along the way. Everything you'd expect, and it finishes, over two hours later, with "If You Don't Know Me By Now," and "Fairground." The band is extremely huge, with horn sections, percussion dudes, two guitarists, bass, several keyboard players, a drummer, two backing vocalists. I think I saw John Tesh and Zamfir the master of the pan flute back there somewhere too, or that could've just been a glitch on the disc. The DVD is thoughtfully subtitled, with perfect punctuation, so you can sing along with Mick Hucknall and all of the screeching females in the audience.
Ian C Stewart

Halloween DVD-Audio DTS
This release is a mix of live recordings from five shows at NYC's Palladium in October, 1978. Along with a lot of extras that the DVD-Audio format can bring (such as live performance videosof "Suicide Chump" and "Dancin' Fool"), the DTS 5.1 mix of the live performances makes for a fantastic Zappa release. The band's lineup includes Vinnie Colaiuta and Ed Mann on drums and percussion, Arthur Barrow and Patrick O'Hearn on bass, Tommy Mars and Peter Wolf on keys, Denny Walley and of course Mr. Zappa himself on guitar as well as vocals. This double-quartet is a classic Zappa lineup that makes the performances almost orchestral at times, and always amazing. The classic "Easy Meat" is very thick and dynamic, and without the twin bass attack stepping on each others' toes. Whereas "Conehead" is a jazz-filled wonder that allows guest violinist L. Shankar to light it up while Vinnie Colaiuta goes apeshit on the drums (and in 5.1 splendor!). "Camarillo Brillo" is a fast-paced trick-or-treat with Zappa executing his trademark vocal style while the band seamlessly transitions into "Muffin Man," wherein Frank's self-described "air sculpture" guitar solo is a minor pentatonic wonder to behold. They then wrap up the disc with "Black Napkins (The Deathless Horsie)," which features more of Frank's flawless fretwork and L. Shankar's violin, to the amusement of the audience. This release is amazing, not just because of the performances, but also because Vaultmeister Joe Travers and Dweezil Zappa compiled the selections from several performances, seamlessly patching them together. The end product is one that will make you feel as though you were there, hamming it up in 1978. Zappa was not only a top-notch composer, but as this release demonstrates, an absolute genius of an entertainer.
Michael Bill

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