Secret World Live
Fans of Gabriel's early-'90s output will absolutely love this film shot in Italy in 1993 during his tour to support the Us album. Gabriel is in fine voice and performs with a crack band that includes bassist Tony Levin, the oft-spotlighted violinist Shankar and vocalist Paula Cole and they perform most of Us, a good chunk of So including big hits "Red Rain" and "Sledgehammer" and a few other tracks like the crowd-pleasing oldie "Solsbury Hill." But that's not all; Gabriel and company turn almost every song into a performance art piece as Peter wrangles with a phone booth phone during "Come Talk to Me," steam unexpectedly shoots out of the stage during "Steam" and in one near-hilarious segment for "Digging in the Dirt" Gabriel acts the nutcase while wearing a helmet cam that points back at his face as he portrays someone literally and maniacally digging in the dirt. Gabriel is still making music today that's as thoughtfully intense as it was in the '90s but he'll never do another tour quite like this one and it's a fortunate thing for fans that this show was committed to film.
Jimi Plays Berkeley
This film was shot more than 40-years ago and has been available in various formats over the decades. Consequently the content is well known; Jimi Plays Berkeley is a documentary film that contains a significant amount of performance footage and also a fairly in-depth look at the mood of the counter-culture in 1970. A lot of the footage shot with people on the street is surprisingly relatable to today's concerns but some footage is laugh-out-loud funny with the naοvetι it reveals, like when a group of people protest outside a showing of the film Woodstock, refusing to pay the $3.50 admission charge because, "We made the movie, man." Footage of Hendrix playing is always worthy and this digitally-restored version is the best this film's ever seen but still, this is 1970 and stage lighting techniques are not yet very advanced and Jimi is often seen in shadowy conditions. Previously unreleased bonus performance footage includes takes on "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," "Machine Gun" and "Hear My Train A Comin'."
The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys 50: Doin' It Again
Released on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys, this documentary features surviving members including Brian Wilson reminiscing about various high and low points in the band's career, including frank discussions of the band's near-constant internal bickering. There is performance footage, from recent days and most significantly of the (never before seen) recording sessions for "Good Vibrations" but there is not enough to satisfy fans looking to hear and see their favorite band in action. If on the other hand you want a primer on the group's history then this film is for you.
The Flesh Alive
This French prog metal band leans heavily on the metal so more emphasis is put on thrashing drums and evil-sounding vocals than on progressive noodling and with The Flesh Alive they offer their fans entrιe to three home-turf shows; one from the Garorock Festival, one shot in Bordeaux and a briefer third shot at the Les Vielles Charrues festival in Brittany. Some may wonder why the band included two nearly-identical shows in this 2-DVD/1-CD package; the answer is that their fans are legion and rabid and they hang on every (even slightly different) note. An hour-long documentary is also included and the CD contains the dozen focus tracks from the main shows.