Musoscribe’s Best of 2010: DVDs

2010 saw release (or re-release) of several noteworthy music-related DVDs. Perhaps the most significant of these is the new film Who Is Harry Nilsson? And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him? I just interviewed that film’s director and am working on a feature to be published soon. So for now that one’s not on this list.

What remains is quite worthwhile. The legendary T.A.M.I. Show – long a mainstay on the collectors’ circuit due to its rarity – has now gotten official release. It’s an important historical document, a groundbreaking technical achievement, and some great performances to boot. And the Beach Boys segment that was missing form bootleg copies has been restored. Must-see.

The shout-outs on the inner sleeve of Frank Zappa’s debut LP Freak Out offered great insight into the iconoclastic musician. The DVD The Freak Out List explores those name-checks and puts them into context with regard to Zappa’s career and worldview. It’s essential viewing for anyone who wants a better understanding of FZ.

Albert King was joined on a Canadian TV soundstage by young upstart Stevie Ray Vaughan. The results were released (audio only) not long after, but the complete show in both sound and video has never gotten official release until now. In Session is a delight.

Brian Wilson is rightly recognized as an important songwriter of the 20th century. The new 2DVD set Songwriter 1962-1969 takes a critical, historical and in-depth look at his work, and provides commentary from people who were there. Unofficial and unsanctioned, it’s nonetheless essential.

The King Crimson lineup that made 1969’s In the Court of the Crimson King never made a follow-up. But what if they had? It would sound an awful lot like the 21st Century Schizoid Band, a modern-day aggregation that’s essentially that band less Fripp and Lake, plus some of the heavy-hitters from subsequent early lineups. Stunning sound and video.

Next we’ll look at “vault” recordings and compilations.