January 1, 2005

Los Lobos

Live at the Fillmore

Los Lobos

Released to celebrate Los Lobos’ 30th anniversary, Live at the Fillmore comprises a mini-documentary and nearly two hours of music recorded at the legendary Fillmore ballroom in San Francisco. The band’s captivating mix of rock, blues, swing, Memphis R&B, and traditional Mexican folk music fills the historic venue without overpowering the enthusiastic, standing-room-only crowd. Former drummer Louie Pérez has returned to the guitar—his original ax—so Los Lobos now boasts a front line of three pickers: Pérez, Cesar Rosas, and the incomparable David Hidalgo. Multiple cameras capture their spirited interplay and reveal the guitarists’ deep understanding of texture and dynamics. Wielding a Gibson Firebird or Les Paul, Hidalgo delivers hair-raising solos that conjure Eric Clapton with Cream or Peter Green with early Fleetwood Mac. The band’s two new drummers alternate between kit and Latin percussion, creating grooves that borrow equally from Santana and the Allman Brothers. Infused with big guitar tones, this is party music of the highest order. Hollywood Records. —Andy Ellis

Jefferson Airplane

Fly Jefferson Airplane

Jefferson Airplane

Fans of the San Francisco Sound will revel in this 111-minute-long documentary that not only covers the Airplane’s eight-year existence, but offers birds-eye glimpses into the whole ’60s psychedelic scene via period video and photographs. The usual interviews with band members and associated folk are here, and they are a cut above the usual banter—but it’s the concert footage that makes this a must-have for Airplane enthusiasts. You get 13 performances in their entirety, rather than the usual cut-away shots interspersed with dialogue, including the legendary Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour appearance when Grace Slick spontaneously covered her face in dark makeup just before going on. Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady’s often-brilliant guitar and bass playing is showcased, with lots of close-up shots, and there is plenty of enlightening discussion of the musical dimension of the Airplane’s story, along with the historical, sociological, and political aspects. The lengthy footage of tripped-out hippies freeform dancing around Bay Area ballrooms alone is worth the cost of this outstanding disc. Eagle Vision. —Barry Cleveland


You Gotta Move


Twenty years ago, it seemed unlikely that the members of Aerosmith would even still be alive in 2004, much less recording, gigging, and kicking major ass. But here they are, bringing down the house on this DVD with two-plus hours of footage on stage, back stage, and in the studio. The first thing that old-school Aerosmith fans need to know is that the band doesn’t neglect the old catalog for their comeback-era radio hits. They open with “Toys in the Attic” and, before they’re done, they crank out “Back in the Saddle” (with Joe Perry killing on 6-string bass), “Last Child,” “Rats in the Cellar,” and “Sweet Emotion.” Both Perry and Brad Whitford get great guitar tones throughout, with enough separation in the mix that you can easily hear who’s doing what. The camera work is sometimes of the ADD school, flitting around too quickly to really steal licks or chord progressions, but there are a few great close-ups of Perry solos that show him shooting from the hip like the badass gunslinger he is. (There are also mouth-watering views of lots of amazing guitars and amps.) The extras that accompany this package include five DVD tracks that weren’t in the band’s A&E special, a short film on the making of their 25th album—the blues collection Honkin’ on Bobo—and an audio CD with seven live tracks. The audio CD features UMixit software that lets you create your own 8- or 16-track mix of the song “You Gotta Move.” (Unfortunately this cool program only works on PCs—no Maccessibility.) The best thing about watching these guys is how much of a band they are. They sound like they’ve been playing together for more than 30 years because they have been. What their 1976 album boldly proclaimed is even truer today: Aerosmith rocks. Columbia Music Video. —Matt Blackett

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