2011 was a pretty good year for music DVDs and I made sure I picked up my fair share. Actually, this turned out to be one of my better years for DVDs, I bought straight up DVD release but I also picked up a few special CD/DVD releases that turned up in The Best Miscellaneous Releases of 2011. Bands and labels are continuing to raise the bar by putting a lot of content into these DVDs so that the fans get a lot of value for their hard earned dollar and most of them are very well done. I wanted to list pure DVDs here but I’m realizing that some of these special package releases technically qualify for this category because, well, they include a DVD! I think that I’ll have to revisit my criteria for 2012 and there may be some overlap between the best DVD list and the best miscellaneous list. Here is my list of The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2011:
Lemmy (49% Motherfucker. 51% Son of a Bitch) (2011): This documentary on Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister was released in early 2011 (even though the date says 2010!) and it was the clear winner upon first view! You’re not going to find a bigger icon of Heavy Metal than Lemmy and you’re not going to find another band that hasn’t compromised themselves or their sound over a 36 year career like Motorhead. Well, there’s also AC/DC! For those who don’t own this DVD, you may have caught the edited version on VH-1 Classic…..that just doesn’t cut it for me! The uncut documentary if two hours long but the bonus footage on the second DVD adds over three more hours! That’s over fiver hours of interviews, concert footage, current and archival footage, backstage action and basically Lemmy’s every day existence. It’s great to get a glimpse of a rock star’s life and watching this document of Lemmy’s lifestyle is eye-opening. It’s not all mansions, money and sex…..it’s hard work, hard drinking, candid conversation and a unique way of living. I could go on and on but those who love Metal know that Lemmy is just as much an icon, just as much a founding father of Heavy Metal, as Ozzy, Iommi, Dio, Halford and Blackmore are. Looking into his life and career in five hours probably doesn’t uncover the surface. One of my favorite parts of the DVD is in the beginning when you get a look at Lemmy (with his son) in his L.A. apartment…..talk about being a prime candidate for the TV show Hoarders! Easily this was the best DVD of 2011 and one of the best of the last few years, highly recommended.
Deep Purple – Phoenix Rising (2011): Had there not been a five hour DVD on Lemmy, PHOENIX RISING would have been my top DVD of 2011. This DVD set is a special edition DVD/CD covering the Mark IV lineup of Deep Purple that included Jon Lord, Ian Paice, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes and Tommy Bolin performing live in Japan in December 1975 and an documentary on the band titled ‘Gettin’ Tighter’. Also included is a bonus interview from December ’75 in Jakarta with Glenn Hughes & Jon Lord, an electronic press kit for the COME TASTE THE BAND record and two awesome booklets full of vintage pictures, articles and a great history. Add the audio CD that includes rare live tracks from the Mark IV lineup on tour in Japan and Long Beach, California and you’ve got a serious package for Purple fans. When you think of Deep Purple, you really don’t think past the classic lineup of Blackmore/Paice/Lord/Gillan/Glover (Mark II) or the Mark III lineup that included Coverdale and Hughes replacing Ian Gillan and Roger Glover…..there really isn’t much out there documenting the Mark IV lineup but this DVD package makes up for it. Deep Purple is one of the most consistent bands of all-time despite various (many!) lineup changes.
AC/DC – Live At River Plate (2011): AC/DC is another band that just churns out consistently good material all the time, this time around it’s the excellent LIVE AT RIVER PLATE concert DVD. The DVD was shot in Buenos Aires, Argentina in December 2009 on the Black Ice World Tour and features the full 19 song setlist that was featured throughout the tour, including the concert I attended in Foxboro, MA on the U.S. run. Obviously this is like a tour souvenir for me but if you attended this tour then you know that the band was at their best and the show was excellent. It’s a big stage production that looks great on my 52″ HDTV and the 32 camera HD production makes it like you’re actually there. Aside from the concert is the bonus documentary and the show opening animation that started each concert. Of all the DVDs I bought this year, LIVE AT RIVER PLATE is the best pure concert DVD.
Iced Earth – Festivals Of The Wicked (2011): It was really tough to put this new Iced Earth live DVD at #4 because I really thought it was a great tour document for 2007 & 2008 for FRAMING ARMAGEDDON (2007) and THE CRUCIBLE OF MAN (SOMETHING WICKED Part 2) (2008). I’ve been a fan of Iced Earth since the early ’90s and this double DVD set packs in 5 hours of Iced Earth with three full concerts featuring both Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and Matt Barlow on lead vocals. Ripper performs on the Wacken Open Air Festival 2007 and Barlow at Rock Hard 2008 and Metal Camp Slovenia 2008, my favorite is the Wacken show because I’ve warmed up to the Ripper fronted Iced Earth more as the years have passed. Don’t get me wrong, the Matt Barlow eras of the band are the classic periods and sound but I love seeing Ripper perform. Add in the 60 minute documentary on the 2008 tour to start the first DVD with the bonus material videos and slideshows that end the second DVD and you’ve got a solid package. Up above, I stated that LIVE AT RIVER PLATE was the best pure concert DVD of 2011 but FESTIVALS OF THE WICKED comes close because of the three full shows. I probably should have made this a tie between AC/DC and Iced Earth but my attendance at the AC/DC show put them ahead of Iced Earth.
Twisted Sister – Double Live: North Stage 1982 & New York Steel 2001 (2011): Twisted Sister is one of those bands that, as the years go by, I come to appreciate more and more. I’ve bought a few of the reissues, bought the Xmas record and DVD and I even saw the band live a few years ago but there really isn’t much future for live shows or a studio album. The one thing Twisted Sister does well is release DVDs of archival concert footage and this time around one of the most important concerts in the band’s career is featured – New York Steel 2001 - a concert for the New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund, a fund set up for the families of rescue personnel involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. That concert is the main reason to buy this DVD, not only is it a benefit show for a serious cause but it documents the band’s reunion after a 13 year breakup. For me, the North Stage show from the band’s 1982 club days is a bonus compared to the importance of the NY Steel 2001 concert but it’s also a great live document of the band just before they started recording their bebut album UNDER THE BLADE. Add in the fresh interviews from the band commenting on both shows and you have a solid DVD.