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June 21, 2015

Monsters of Rock

Ever since I can remember I wanted to be in a band. But to be in one, you had to play an instrument. So my pop bought me keyboards. I couldn’t play them. So he bought me an acoustic guitar. I couldn’t play it. So he bought me an electric guitar. I kinda learned a few things but gave up. So my mom bought me a drum kit. While I’m not a virtuoso, I learned how to play the drums and I do so since 1998. Since then I play a little bit of bass guitar too and I occasionally sing.

Because my collection of movies is growing all the time, I had to make some space, so I sacrificed my vinyl collection (which consisted of mainly glam rock albums and singles). I then sacrificed the biggest portion of my CD collection too. And I got good money for both. But I did that, also because I mostly listen to music on YouTube nowadays. Let’s face it, the internet killed physical media in music. Especially this part of it that I loved so much, the music VHS or DVD, because every video clip is now available online, along with a great selection of full concerts, which were the content those old tapes and discs were offering. But I couldn’t give away this stuff too. So, here’s a breakdown of my favorite music on physical media.

Bands such as the Misfits and Marilyn Manson may be very theatrical and appeal to cult movie fans, and I love them, but they are ignored because they would be too obvious. CD releases that featured a bonus DVD are also ignored; the article is about releases that were about the video. Fictionalized rock musicals [such as PINK FLOYD THE WALL (1982) and THE GREAT ROCK 'N' ROLL SWINDLE (1980)] and rockumentaries [such as LEMMY (2010) and THE FILTH AND THE FURY (2000)] are also ignored. Many of the discs reviewed come with tons of special features too, and those are ignored too due to space limitations. Oh, and the reviews are coming in capsule form as I wanted the article to total less than 3.000 words.

I had the pleasure of seeing Motorhead live in the early ‘00s in Athens, and in the late ‘00s in London. The Athens gig was one the greatest rock ‘n’ roll experiences me and my friends ever had. After it finished, two of my friends found Lemmy in a bar, drinking whiskey, and they took photos with him. In the meanwhile, I was banging a blonde girl in my hotel. The London gig was awesome too, as Lemmy joined supporting act Girlschool to play Please Don’t Touch. The other supporting act was The Damned, my favorite punk rock band, but more on these guys later.
All Motorhead DVDs that I’ll cover capture the days of my favorite line-up (Kilmister/Campbell/Dee). The first of this discs is 25 & ALIVE BONESHAKER which is their October 22nd 2000 Brixton Academy gig in which the band celebrated its 25th Anniversary, and was joined on stage by legends such as Fast Eddie, Doro, and Brian May. It may be a bit lengthy, but to me this is the period when the band was on top of their game when it comes to performing live, so it is very enjoyable. One thing that always fascinated me about Motorhead, is how they are respected by almost everyone: metal-heads, punk-rockers; everybody seems to like them!
The second one is STAGE FRIGHT, which is a concert from December 7th 2004 in Dusseldorf. I was disappointed by this one, because I’m not a die-hard Motorhead fan. They ignored many of their hits in favor of obscurities and new songs (including an unplugged number), and for a casual listener like me, that didn’t work out. Also, they did some amazing stuff with the lighting, but the camera work and the editing tricks were useless (and definitely out of place), as rock ‘n’ roll is better off with simplicity.
The third one is THE WORLD IS OURS – VOL 1: EVERYWHERE FURTHER THAN EVERYPLACE ELSE, which is a concert from April 9th 2011 in Santiago, Chile. Man, this crowd is amazing; you should see how they dance when a favorite number starts. They are possibly the greatest audience I’ve ever seen captured on video. The band also switched back to a “best of” set-list and I was happy. The gig was filmed in black and white (another visual experiment) and it works.
The last one is THE WORLD IS OURS – VOL 2: ANYPLACE CRAZY AS ANYWHERE ELSE, which is a concert from 2011 at Wacken Open Air Festival. The crowd is as expected at
European Heavy Metal Festivals, very enthusiastic, but not as awesome as in South America. In the Name of Tragedy sounds better than any other song on the set-list and you’d guess that they did the sound-check based on this number. The image quality on the Blu-ray will leave you breathless; I’ve never seen Motorhead like this before.

This is by far the most appropriate tape reviewed in this article, as it is the sickest and it was directed by Jim Van Bebber at a time when he was on top of his game. Now, about the music; I don’t like it so extreme, but Necrophagia kinda works for me, because they are somehow rock ‘n’ roll. Their tape of theirs I’m reviewing is THROUGH EYES OF THE DEAD and it’s a weird little gem. The band plays, and through each song we see a depraved short film.
In the first story, a fat guy consumes pills and alcohol, cuts himself and then goes out for a walk; he meets a couple in the woods and shoots them; he then cuts the female in pieces, masturbates and unloads his cum on her head and then buries her. Erm, don’t show this to your feminist friends.
The second story finds a girl in a cage, screaming her lungs off; the guy who put her there is mutilating her boyfriend in front of her. The third story is the boring one as it is just has a couple picnicking in the graveyard whilst a zombie is rising from the grave.
The fourth story is about a nun who consumes alcohol in a graveyard; soon she will meet the devil, and she will be raped and killed by monks. The fifth song is wrapped around Lucio Fulci footage.

I’m a Guns N’ Roses fanatic since I first saw the music video of You Could Be Mine on MTV. I bought all their albums immediately. I was waiting for years for Chinese Democracy to come out, and when it arrived I thought it was worthy of the wait. I saw them live in the never-ending Chinese Democracy tour in 2006 in Athens. I’ve seen so many of their concerts on YouTube (I’m obsessed) and by comparing them I have to say that I feel lucky having seen them in 2006, because Axl was better than ever that year. It makes me glad the fact that he’ll never reunite with Slash… Duff and Izzy are occasionally joining the stage anyway… But I digress…
The first two GN’R DVDs I bought were USE YOUR ILLUSION I and USE YOUR ILLUSION II which are basically one lengthy concert divided to two discs in order to generate more profit. The concert in question is from Tokyo in 1992, and it’s not their best from this tour. Axl is on top form, but the rest of the band is sloppy at best. Also, the fans don’t seem very enthusiastic, and they look like they all got sleeping pills. The highlight is a song called It Tastes Good, Don’t It which you can’t find in any of the official albums.
The other two VHS tapes I bought were MAKIN’ F@*!ING VIDEOS PART 1: DON’T CRY and MAKIN’ F@*!ING VIDEOS PART 1: NOVEMBER RAIN. Both music videos are works of art and the making-of documentaries provided are well deserved. They are informative and entertaining and I would love to have such tapes for all GN’R music videos. You also get to listen to Shadow of your Love and the Godfather theme which didn’t make it to any of their studio albums. Oh, and Axl says that Tommy Lee’s piano on Home Sweet Home was a big influence for November Rain.
Recently I bought the APPETITE FOR DEMOCRACY 3D: LIVE AT THE HARD ROCK CASINO- LAS VEGAS Blu-ray and although I don’t have a 3D television set, I did enjoy the 2D version very much. The lightning was awesome and the band was in top form (playing stuff mostly from Appetite for Destruction and Chinese Democracy as the title reveals, but not limited to those two albums). This is a concert from 2012 and the line-up is my personal favorite: Axl Rose (sole original member), Dizzy Reed (from Hookers N' Blow), Tommy Stinson (from The Replacements), Chris Pitman (ex- Tool), Richard Fortus (ex- Thin Lizzy), Frank Ferrer (The Beautiful), Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (ex- Lita Ford), and DJ Ashba (from Sixx:A.M.). Oh, and plenty of strippers. This is Las Vegas after all.

I saw Motley Crue live in London in 2007 and they kicked major ass (on the wild side). GREATEST VIDEO HITS is a DVD which contains all their music videos up to the point of the release of this disc. Their shows are spectacular and so had to be their video-clips, and they are indeed amazing. Let’s get this party started!
LEWD CRUED & TATTOED is a DVD of a July 5th 2000 show from the Maximum Rock tour (in support of their New Tattoo album). Samantha Malone (from Hole) is on drums, and although she’s really good (and sexy), the show proves once more that if there’s not all four original members of Motley Crue on board, then things won’t work.
CARNIVAL OF SINS is the best live release the Crue ever put out as they were on top of their game when this was filmed. It all starts with a funny animation segment, and then Mighty Mike and some girls help us go on with the (lengthy) concert. In the first half the band plays oldies, and in the second half they play the hits. The audience is full of plastic bimbos that show their tits, and the stage is full of strippers (occasionally hanging from ropes). Motorbikes and pyros are also part of the show. This is an Americana commercial. They shouldn’t be playing Anarchy in the UK though; they just don’t get it.
Another great release you should add to your collection is CRUE FEST 1. It is Motley Crue’s attempt at a Festival (much like Ozzfest) and we get to see what happened in Toronto. First we get a couple of songs from Trapt (average modern rock) and as many from Sixx A.M. (an awesome super-band featuring Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue, DJ Ashba from Guns N’ Roses, and Michael James). Backstage we even get to see Kat Von D being a doll as always. Then we get a few songs from Papa Roach; the first number is unforgettable as we see their singer running around among members of the audience. Then we get a few more songs from Buckcherry; professional rock stars; and the highlight of course is Crazy Bitch, even though the long version they played was a bit tiring. Then we see the devil receiving a blowjob in the shadows, and when the curtain falls, next thing you know, Motley Crue is on (complete with pyros and the Tit E. Cam which you should check out if you don’t know what that is)! They obviously couldn’t top the Carnival tour with this short set-list, but it is nice to have a document from the Saints tour. Hell, I’d love to have a DVD from every tour they ever did, but with the format dying I should be thankful for YouTube. But there’s no Crue Fest 2 there…

I don’t like Iron Maiden; okay, I like their first two albums, but back then they were a totally different band from what kids know today as Iron Maiden. So, the first tape I got was the S/T one, which is actually a live recording from December 21st 1980 in London. The quality of this bootleg is shit and I should probably replace it.
In 1990, Iron Maiden re-released their entire back catalog of singles and THE FIRST TEN YEARS – THE VIDEOS tape (even though they formed in mid-‘70s but seemingly the band doesn’t count the non-album years). Said tape contains a couple of live tracks, and all the music videos they had made up that point. I struggled through it, because I find their videos mainly boring, but also cheesy.
I saw Paul Di’Anno live twice (both times in Athens) and he was awesome. The energy on his gigs was beyond belief. A good document from this period is THE BEAST IN THE EAST which is a live recording from Poland in 2003, and the band is playing songs from the vocalist’s days in Iron Maiden and from other associated acts.

I’ve never seen The Sex Pistols live and this must change, even though it is now a bit too late; you see, I consider their ’96 gigs to be their best (judging from what’s on YouTube).
Anyway, the first Sex Pistols tape I got was the WINDERLAND CONCERT which was their last gig from their first U.S. tour, and it sounds exactly like what you’d expect from a band that soon broke up. The audience doesn’t seem to want them to be there, and the band doesn’t seem to want to be there.
Then I bought the THERE’LL ALWAYS BE AN ENGLAND DVD, which is a concert from 2007 in London, marking the 30th anniversary of the band. The direction by Julian Temple may be excellent, but the band sounds like a classic rock act and their fans seem meaner than them. I probably don’t get it.

Back in the ‘00s I saw Judas Priest live in Athens twice. The first time was with Tim on vocals, and the second one with Rob. I found Tim to be in better form, but that is unfair to Rob as he was 100 years old then and much older now. I bought one DVD from each era, in order to keep the memories alive. The Tim one is called LIVE IN LONDON and the Rob one RISING IN THE EAST.

I saw the Buzzcocks live on their s/t album tour (in Athens), on their Flat Pack Philosophy album tour (in Thessaloniki), and one more time when they played a best-of set-list (in Athens). They were amazing all three times. The LIVE AT SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE 2003 DVD is a decent document of their early ‘00s era. At some point they mess up because the band members mistakenly have different set-lists.
Two music videos by the Buzzcocks can also be found in THE
GREATEST PUNK compilation, which lasts for approximately an hour.
Another Buzzcocks-related DVD is the one Magazine recently released, entitled REAL LIFE + THEREAFTER which is a 2009 Manchester concert by Howard Devoto’s band (he was the Buzzcocks’ first singer).

My favorite Greek rock band is Mora Sti Fotia (Babies on Fire). I’ve seen them live many times, and I even directed one of their music videos. To celebrate their 20th anniversary they released a 2-DVD set which is a concert from their favorite Athens venue, Kyttaro. It’s almost two hours long and full of quality songs, so you should buy it without a second thought.

I’ve seen The Damned live something like five or six times in the UK; all with their most recent line-up, and they were brilliant.
Their first DVD I bought was the “reunion & farewell” one (you should know better than that), called FINAL DAMNATION and it is a live recording from June 13th 1988 at London’s Town and Country Club (now The Forum). The performance is short but really good, and the disc would be excellent if there was no wanker, er, I mean music expert trying to convince us that our favorite punk rock band is a classic rock act of virtuosos with his annoying non-removable video and audio commentary.
Their second DVD I bought was TIKY NIGHTMARE and it is a concert recorded live in London. This is from their Grave Disorder tour, and the excellent line-up of original members Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible, and Patricia Morrison (from Sisters of Mercy), Pinch (from the English Dogs) and Monty (from Punk Floyd). It is brilliantly fun and I enjoyed it very much.
Their last DVD I bought was mge25: MACHINE GUN ETIQUETTE 25 TOUR, which, as the title reveals, is a Machine Gun Etiquette anniversary concert. And being that is unfortunate that classics from this album such as Plan 9 Channel 7 are not played. Other than that, the band sounds heavier than ever, and the members seem like they’re having fun.

When I first watched THE STING: LIVE AT THE KEY CLUB I liked it and I could not understand why nobody else did. Then I saw W.A.S.P. live in Athens and they were shit. I gave them a second change and saw them live in Wolverhampton too, and they were again shit. There was way too much pre-recorded stuff; and it is one thing to sound shit when you play live, that would be bearable, but to sound shit with pre-recorded stuff is simply awful. Now that I watched again this DVD, I realized what everybody was talking about. Blackie doesn’t even bother to lip-sync…

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