Best of 2011: DVDs

From my standpoint, this past year has been a good one for music-related DVDs. I reviewed several here, but the most noteworthy among them are these:

Ballad of Mott the Hoople – This loving documentary takes an in-depth look at the ups-and-downs that characterized the band. Featuring the cooperation of all surviving ex-members, it’s great for serious fans as well as those who don’t know much about them beyond “All the Young Dudes” and perhaps “All the Way From Memphis.”

Frank Sinatra Around the World – Even in the late sixties and beyond, Ol’ Blue Eyes still – most nights – had the goods. This three-concert set chronicles shows that are each unique in their own way. Even when the song selection overlaps (as it does a bit) the style, performance and delivery is unique to each show. Well worth watching, if only to prove that performers should not wish to — as Pete Townshend wrote — “die before [they] get old.”

Brian Eno: The Man Who Fell to Earth – I had the opportunity to see Brian Eno give an “Illustrated Talk” this year, and this documentary – covering his creative output in the 1970s – made a good warmup for that. Casual fans may think they know about Eno, but as this fascinating – long but never boring – DVD makes clear, there’s a lot more to know.

Steven Wilson – Insurgentes —  Returning readers to this blog probably know that I’m a serious fan of Steven Wilson. Porcupine Tree, his remix/remaster work on popular 70s albums, on and on. His first solo album under his own name also gave rise to this closely-related film (which is not a long-form music video). It’s sort of a meditation on, well, all the things rattling around in Wilson’s mind. Which is to say, some interesting and provocative subject matter. Poignant, unsettling and humorous, occasionally all at once.

Derailroaded – As (bad) luck would have it, Larry “Wild Man” Fischer passed away within a few weeks of my screening and reviewing this modern-day look at his life and, um, career. If you know about Fischer and think of him as a one-dimensional joke that’s not especially funny, this film might change your mind.

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