This weekend I was rummaging through my DVDs looking for a particular movie, and kept happening upon some music-related DVDs that I thought would make for an interesting mix. Um, I wish there was more to this story, but it’s as simple as that. So with that shallow intro, let’s get going, shall we?
“Big Bottom,” Spinal Tap (Download)
It’s amazing how well this movie has held up — it really is like a fine wine that needs to be savored for all the little things that make it great. One of my favorite memories of This is Spinal Tap when it premiered on the big screen. The year was 1984, and the city I lived in had a large number of stoners who loved their hard rock without irony and humor. Anyway, my friend and I are in the theater laughing it up, when a stoner dude turns around in the seat in front of us and says: “Hey man, I don’t know why you’re laughing, this is a documentary. It’s not a comedy.” You can’t buy those moments — although it could be argued that I did, since I bought a ticket to the movie.
“King of the Night Time World,” KISS (Download)
This is from The Paul Lynde Halloween Special in 1976. I used to love Paul’s bad jokes on Bewitched and The Hollywood Squares, but in this routine he seemed like he was worried about getting his ass kicked on national television. If you’re a KISS fan (and I know the KISS Army is huge), you probably already have these DVDs. However, even for the causal fan of their music, just seeing TV moments with Lynde and Mike Douglas is pretty much worth price of the discs.
“Let’s Go Crazy,” Prince (Download)
I’m about 90 percent certain this version of “Let’s Go Crazy” was released as a 12-inch disc. You’re going to hear some burps of dialogue here and there in this MP3, but I’ve done my best to edit out all of Apollonia’s lines. You’re welcome.
“Where the Streets Have No Name,” U2 (Download)
This is a great DVD series if you’re one of those people who loves to hear the backstories about how songs were created. For example, I didn’t know that The Edge used to make tons of 4-track cassette dubs of guitar parts and stick them in a bag. The problem was that he didn’t label the tapes very well and often had trouble locating specific noodling sessions when he brought the big bag o’ tapes into the studio for the band to hear. This particular track is a good example of taking good musical ideas and then trying to fit them into a rock song. Unlike Pete Townshend (who comes into the studio with full demos of songs), U2 jams off sounds that someone in the band comes up with, and then they try and write a song around those musical ideas. The process can be maddeningly slow, and when it came to this song, it took the band half the recording sessions to complete it — mostly because of the endless futzing with sounds. I know, it all sounds a bit masturbatory in terms of a process, but I’m glad they stuck with it, because I think it’s one of U2’s most amazing songs.
“The Party’s Over,” Journey (Download)
Okay, I cheated. This is actually off the CD that accompanies the DVD of this concert in Houston, but they didn’t include the song on the DVD, so that’s why the CD version. Confused? Sorry. Maybe you’re like me, in that you love Steve Smith’s drum part after Neal Schon’s cool guitar intro and wondered what it would sound like live. Well, now you have your chance, but there’s some added value to this recording. What is it? Well, this version has a great non sequitur by Steve Perry where he says: “I’m gonna party like a party.” Huh? Yeah, I know. But whenever this song comes up on my iPod, I just nudge the volume up a little more to hear that.
“The Wait,” Pretenders (Download)
The Pretenders were such a great live band while half of the original lineup was alive. James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon (even though he gets slagged for not playing bass very well) added that certain something that made the band really kick ass. Martin Chambers (still with the band) is a very good drummer who, on this song, is clearly channeling the punk vibe from late ’70s Britain — but in a melodic way. Maybe it was the cocaine the band members where on at the time, but here’s an example of taking a song with fast tempo and making it faster.