Album Reviews

Issue 2006-005: DVD Special

Reviews in this issue:

Caravan - The 35th Anniversary Concert

Caravan - The 35th Anniversary Concert [DVD]
Country of Origin:UK
Format:2 DVD
Record Label:Chrome Dreams
Catalogue #:DVD CVIS397
Year of release:2005
Encoding & SoundAll Regions


Disc One: The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again (6:09), Why Why Why [And I Wish I Were Stoned] (3:29), Golf Girl (7:04), Nine Feet Underground (9:22), Hello Hello (3:30), Head Above The Clouds (7:22), Revenge (6:42), Nightmare (13:45), Smoking Gun (6:30), The Unauthorised Breakfast Item (5:40), Backwards - A Hunting We Shall Go (8:51), For Richard (16:00), Memory Lain Hugh / Headloss (10:30), If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You (4:07)

Disc Two: [A] The Acoustic Set: Place Of My Own (4:48), Love Song With Flute (4:21), Chance Of A Lifetime (3:25); [B] Interview (24:10); [C] The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again (5:53) [1973 Promotional Film]

If a week is a long time in politics then 35 years in the music business is an eternity, and certainly reason enough to hold a celebratory concert and release it on DVD. Caravan have undergone something of a resurgence in recent years, a situation no doubt aided by the fact that they are the consummate live band and the fact that they are still producing fine quality music (as our review of their last album, The Unauthorised Breakfast Item proves). The line-up is the same as on that album (unsurprisingly, as the concert was recorded at the end of 2003!) with Pye Hasting on guitar and vocals, Richard Coughlan on drums and percussion, Geoffrey Richardson on viola, flute, garden shears (!) and electric spoons (!!), Jim Leverton on bass and vocals, Doug Boyle on lead guitar and Jan Schelhaas on keyboards.

Caravan have always forged their own idiosyncratic musical path. Maybe because they were often dismissed as whimsical they never received the attention they richly deserve from the critics. That is a great shame as, with the exception of a couple of clunkers in the early 1980s, all their albums contain music of the highest calibre, from the humorous to the innovative, the band were, and are, frighteningly versatile. Thankfully this is captured on this DVD, the track listing of which will be a delight to old fans of the band and an eye-opener to those who have previously dismissed the band or have never heard any of their material.

Filmed at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, the group are in fine fettle, pulling an inspired performance out of the bag. Things start with a trio of 'whimsies' that set the atmosphere for the evening. The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again, Why Why Why (And I Wish I Were Stoned) and Golf Girl display the characteristic wit of lyricist Hastings combined with instantly memorable melodies. The charismatic Richardson displays his versatility by playing first viola, then flute and finally an electric spoons solo! Well as I suppose now they have Doug Boyle in the band he has no need to provide additional guitar parts so has to do something! The intense prog starts with a great rendition of Nine Feet Underground, enhanced by the lovely vocals of Jim Leverton and the lead guitar work of Boyle, whose addition to the line-up have given Caravan a heavier sound. Richardson makes his presence felt again on Hello Hello by being probably the first person ever to play a pair of garden shears live on stage!

Leaping forward a few years, with four of the next five tracks (Head Above The Clouds, Revenge, Smoking Gun and The Unauthorised Breakfast Album) are all from the band's most recent album. It's a testament to the consistency of the song writing that these songs blend in so well with the older, classic material. If you don't know what more mature musicians can offer to today's musical climate then check out Revenge which is simply a superb song. There are some sublime musical moments throughout the DVD, particularly when Richardson's viola is merged with Hastings's or Boyle's guitar as on Nightmare, the standout track from 1977's Better By Far album, or on the beautiful Backwards performed in a version that simply couldn't be bettered. No Caravan performance would be complete without a version of For Richard, the group's signature song, and this night was no exception. Considering how many times I must have heard this song, it still manages to sound fresh, helped by the band's talent for subtly rearrangement. On this version we are treated to a special guest appearance by Jimmy Hastings, Pye's older brother, on flute and a wonderful pizzicato viola and electric piano interlude. The concert rounds off with the classic Memory Lain Hugh / Headloss played with gusto (and Richardson back on flute) and the title track of their second album If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You, another whimsical title but a great song and a rousing way to end the concert with succinct and tasteful solos of Boyle and Jimmy Hastings (clarinet), not forgetting the reappearance of the electric spoons!

Disc two offers up a selection of bonus material: a short acoustic set, some interviews and a rare promotional film from 1973. The live acoustic set, also recorded during the Bloomsbury Theatre concert, was the first time the group had attempted such a presentation. Only the two Hastings brothers, Boyle and Richardson perform on these numbers, the first time the band has appeared on stage without their drummer as Coughlan himself was quick to point out! The acoustic setting underlines the beautiful fragility of the songs which adapt well to the more intimate presentation. The interviews are interesting but give a somewhat superficial history of the band skipping over long periods of the band's history. Doesn't help either that the majority of the running time is taken up with clips from the live show! The promotional film of The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again is quite a treat and a genuine rarity - very enjoyable if only for Pye's remarkable hair of the period and Geoffrey's yellow dungarees!

On the whole this is a splendid DVD and should hopefully do a lot to cement Caravan's reputation as an important but generally overlooked band. Superb songs, superb musicianship and good fun. What better way to while away a few hours?

Conclusion: 9 out of 10


Al Di Meola - One Of These Nights

Al Di Meola - One Of These Nights [DVD]
Country of Origin:USA
Record Label:MVD
Catalogue #:INAK7001DVD
Year of Release:2005
Info:Al Di Meola
Encoding & SoundRegion 0
Audio 4:1 Surround

Tracklist: Innamorata, Misterio, Azzurra, Orient Blue, Rhapsody Of Fire, This Way Before, One Night Last June, Fugatta, Libertango, Beyond The Mirage, Egyptian Danza Features: Biography, Making Of

Al Di Meola is one of only a handful of truly unique guitarists, in my humble opinion, and as a personal favourite I took the opportunity to review this latest DVD from him and perhaps introduce his music to a newer audience. Many, I am sure, will already be aware of his music which blends jazz fusion with infectious Latin rhythms, however this is only part of the picture and the words symphonic and progressive should also be added. Invariably complex, strangely compelling, mysterious and always melodic - Al Di Meola is a master in the field of instrumental music.

Recorded on the 17th May 2004 at Scala (Germany), One Of These Nights brings together Al Di Meola (guitars & guitar synths), Mario Parmisano (acoustic piano & synth), Gumbi Ortiz (percussion) and Ernie Adams (drums). Joining them for this DVD is the Hungarian Sturca String Quartet of Andras Sturcz (cello), Gyula Benko (viola), Gabor Csonka (1st violin) and Victor Uhzik (2nd violin), who make guest appearances throughout the concert.

The whole cast are assembled for the opening tune Innamorata - the mood is relaxed and the musicians remain seated, as they do throughout the entire set. Innamorata starts gently, lead by Di Meola and driven along by Ortiz and Adams, with Parmisano adding colour with his superb piano playing. The string quartet add a lush string arrangement. Misterio again opens in a relaxed manner - Parmisano is fantastic again with his beautiful opening sequence. Di Meola again employs a number of sounds via his Ovation acoustic guitar, midi(ed) through a series of Roland synths. This allows him a vast array of sounds (sitar to distorted violin and then electric guitar), all of which he uses to great effect.

What I found fascinating about this DVD was the way in which Di Meola and his music have evolved and progressed. The fiery and almost frantic nature of the Return To Forever recordings and his early solo works have been replaced by a colourful almost serene quality that simply exudes class. Don't let this imply that some of his undoubted fretboard skills have waned, far from it. His sense of rhythm is also impeccable and so excellently complemented here by both Ortiz and Adams.

Which brings us to the centrepiece for the concert which is the lengthy section featuring Orient Blue, Rhadsody Of Fire and This Way Before which initially has Di Meola sounding like a virtual orchestra of guitarists, accompanied only by the wonderful Gumbi Ortiz on percussion. The piece unfolds from start to finish and the interplay between the two musicians is joy to watch, especially Ortiz's concentrated enjoyment and facial expressions. The concert hots up from here rising through One Night Last June, Fugatta, Libertango and culminating in the superlative Beyond The Mirage. But the best is still to come with the final piece, and the interpretation of Egyptian Danza (the first Di Meola track I ever heard). The Sturca String Quartet have now come to the party and Gabor Csonka (I believe) plays the main melody part with Di Meola - a nice moment.

I'm not entirely convinced that the whole concert is here, certainly there is enough material and I'm not complaining, however the Sturca String Quartet are more noticeable by their absence, which is a shame as their contributions certainly add to the performance when they were included. The concert also seems a little fragmented - again suggesting that parts of the original show have been removed. I may be wrong?

The audio quality is superb with each of the instruments being clear and discernable throughout, although I did think Al Di Meola could have gone up a tad in the mix. I didn't really detect much happening in the 4:1 mix, which I considered that this type of concert would really benefit from, but on the other hand it didn't really detract from the music. The filming captures the band well with full stage shots and close-ups (although a little limited on the chosen close-up angles), at the appropriate times. There is little in the way of spoken interaction between Al Di Meola and the audience, a few mumbled words and a brief introduction of the band. Hardly riveting stuff, now this maybe because the concert was recorded in Germany and there was a language problem or that there has been some editing, either way the music speaks volumes.

The packing is a little suspect as the construction is of cardboard - one to be treated carefully if it is to stand the test of time. The "Features" section of the DVD are somewhat limited with a rather long written biography of Al Di Meola and the "Making Of" which as it's title might suggest sees the road crew bringing in flight cases, setting up, band chat etc etc. However I didn't buy the DVD for the extras and as they stand they are fine.

For those who have not witnessed this truly unique musician before, I would add a word of caution and say I'm not sure this would be the best starting place. Not a criticism of the music, the musicians or this DVD, but without a background to Di Meola's style, then this is a "weighty" introduction to the man and his music. My suggestion would be to check out some of the earlier albums first - Land Of The Midnight Sun, Elegant Gypsy, Casino, Scenario, all of which are now reasonably priced (if you can find them). For those more familiar with Al Di Meloa's music then this is a truly engrossing concert within an intimate setting, surrounded by fabulous band and where the music ensnares you from start to finish. No stage show (everyone is seated throughout), no flashing lights, just musicians at the top of their performance.

Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10


Twelfth Night - Live From London

Twelfth Night - Live From London
Country of Origin:UK
Record Label:Voiceprint
Iguana Project
Catalogue #:IPDVD011
Year of release:2005
Info:Twelfth Night
Encoding & SoundNTSC
All Regions

Tracklist: The Ceiling Speaks (6:00), Human Being (8:25), We Are Sane (11:20), Fact And Fiction/The Poet Sniffs A Flower (8:47), Creepshow (12:35), Art And Illusion (5:00), Love Song (5:10)

Thanks to Voiceprint and The Iguana Project, the mid 1980s Live from London television shows are now available on DVD. Although the bulk of the bands featured will be of minimal interest to readers of DPRP, the series does contain three important titles featuring Pallas, IQ and this little gem by Twelfth Night. The Live from London series was a bit of a shambles, the bands were generally asked to perform at very short notice, the televised screenings differed from region to region and at a time suitable only for incurable insomniacs and the introductions, by 'famed' producer Mickie Most were generally poor and did more to reveal how unaware the presenter was of the bands than anything about the bands themselves (fortunately the introductions have been left off the DVDs!).

The Twelfth Night show, recorded at The Marquee on 9 March 1984, features the musical stalwarts of Rick Battersby (keyboards), Brian Devoil (drums and percussion), Clive Mitten (bass and keyboards) and Andy Revell (guitar) along with new boy Andy Sears on vocals. Despite Andy S having only joined the band at the end of the previous year, this concert was his 34th gig in a little over two months, an impressive work rate that shows how popular the group was at that time. The band were given minimal notice of the filming, being a replacement for Chris Rea who pulled out at the last minute. However, the lack of preparation time had no real effect on the band as they were actively gigging at the time, indeed the band's last gig prior to the recording was some five days earlier, coincidentally also at The Marquee.

As a consequence the performance is tight and focused with the band are positively bouncing on opener The Ceiling Speaks. The camera work suits the song, energetically flipping from long shots to on-stage close-ups, suitably capturing the vitality of the song. The atmospheric opening to Human Being reveals a beauty to this song from the Fact And Fiction album that is often overlooked given the dominance of the other material on the LP. A somewhat hybrid piece that bridges the instrumental roots of the band with the lyrical visions of Geoff Mann, it is worth the price of the disc alone to watch and hear Clive's bass playing throughout the song.

The next three tracks are also culled from the seminal F&F album (which, with the exception of This City and the short World Without End instrumental, is replicated in full on this DVD) and are amongst the most famous and popular songs in the band's repertoire. We Are Sane, Fact and Fiction/The Poet and Creepshow need no introduction to anyone who ever saw the band. To anyone who has not heard of the group, suffice to say these songs are some of the finest recorded during the so-called early 1980s progressive rock revival, with no exceptions. Throughout, the performance is of a typically high standard with Andy S in particularly fine voice and each of the other musicians having a great show. The sound is very clear and well mixed, specially the keyboards which come over very nicely. Two 'encores' are included, the somewhat poppier Art and Illusion and traditional closing number Love Song, the ending of which is unfortunately faded out.

The DVD features a great performance by a band at their peak. The limitations of a one hour programme means that signature tune Sequences could not be included but what you do get is some of the best vocal material produced by the band. As previously stated, the band are in great form, the filming is spot on and manages to capture each of the performers and the sound is as good as you could hope for. Extras are limited to a photo gallery culled from the performance and the afternoon's sound check. Given the scarcity of film featuring Twelfth Night then this release is a delight for fans and well worth inclusion in anyone's collection.

Conclusion: 9+ out of 10


Check out the band's website for details of archive releases, including the soundtrack to this performance (given away free with copies of the DVD purchased direct from the band!)

Nektar - Pure: Live In Germany 2005

Nektar - Pure: Live in Germany 2005
Country of Origin:UK
Record Label:SPV
Catalogue #:SPV 78287
Year of release:2005
Time:Disc 1: 150:41
Disc 2: 39:32
Encoding & SoundRegion 0,
Dolby 5.1 Surround,
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo


Disc One: A Tab In The Ocean (15:53), Dream Nebula / Desolation Valley / Waves (14:03), Remember The Future Part 1 (16:16), Remember The Future Part 2 (19:56), Cast Your Fate (4:57), The Debate (7:52), Cryin' In The Dark / King Of Twilight (12:16), That's Life (6:00), Show Me The Way (6:25), A Day In The Life Of A Preacher / Squeeze / Mr. H (13:11), Recycled (18:33), Good Day (6:09), Fidgety Queen (8:28)

Disc Two: Live 'Acoustic' Set: Do You Believe In Magic? (4:20), Telephone (4:18), Always (7:38), Good Day (6:24); Bonus Features: Interview (10:47), Slideshow, Biography, Discography

Nektar's first DVD was recorded at NEARfest 2002 and featured the original line-up, playing together for the first time in 26 years. Whereas the NEARfest DVD featured a couple of guest musicians (notably synthesiser wizard Larry Fast) and backing vocalists, Pure is just the current four-piece line-up of guitarist and vocalist Roye Albrighton, drummer Ron Howden, bassist Randy Dembo (who replaced Mo Moore in 2003) and 'new' boy Tom Hughes (from the Lucky Bishops) who joined after original keyboard player Alan 'Taff' Freeman left the group following the completion of the Evolution album in 2004.

The recruitment of Hughes was certainly a wise move as his mastery of the Hammond organ and his style of playing has certainly, as the accompanying booklet states, added a new dimension to the sound of the band. Indeed, one could go as far as stating that the 2005 version of Nektar has a more authentic sound, more in tune with the seventies band. Not that the NEARfest performance was substandard, it certainly wasn't, just that the performance on Pure is in many ways a lot tighter. Leader Albrighton is positively sprightly as he reels off another guitar salvo, leading the band with gusto - the re-launching of the band seems to have had a rejuvenating effect on him! The set concentrates on their early years of the band with only one song, The Debate (from Evolution) dating from post 1975. A Tab In The Ocean (1972) and Remember The Future (1973) are performed in full, the two parts of the latter album being played back-to-back, something that the band rarely attempted even at the height of their popularity.

Although the band are notorious for their famed light show, it doesn't really feature that much on the DVD. Yes, projections and effects are present but they are rather diluted by the lighting required for the filming, particularly as the show was initially recorded for a German TV special. As you'd expect, the professionalism of the film crew is highlighted by the use of several different cameras ensuring that all the appropriate action is captured and that all of the band members can be seen clearly. The camera over the drum kit is a particularly nice touch.

The second DVD includes four tracks from a charity 'acoustic' performance the group played the day after filming the main DVD set. Acoustic is used very loosely as it is hardly Nektar Unplugged, electricity being required for the Hammond and bass. Despite this, the relaxed and intimate atmosphere combined with Albrighton's acoustic guitar do put a different slant on things, in particular the two tracks from Sounds Like This (Do You Believe In Magic? and Good Day) take on a new patina. Without the need for TV lighting the lighting effects are more prominent, particularly as the on-stage lighting is mainly provided by candles! It is a shame that more of this performance was not included on the DVD, in all the band played 11 songs in this semi-acoustic format including many that were not part of the previous night's set (like Astral Man, Hope, Angel, Child of Mine and even a version of Norwegian Wood). As this was presumably a one-off performance it would have been great if it was preserved for posterity intact.

Special features on the second disc include a 10-minute interview with Roye and Ron, a slideshow featuring pictures from the entire history of the group, brief biographies of the four current members and a handy discography (which includes a live CD from the 2004 tour the release of which was kept very quiet!). Overall, Pure is a nicely filmed, presented and packaged DVD. The band performs well, the filming is very professional and the sound is faultless. This is a great package for every fan and is heartily recommended for anyone who has ever taken the slightest bit of interest in the group.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10


Awaken & Genesis Project - Live

Awaken & Genesis Project - Live
Country of Origin:Netherlands
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:GPA51831819
Year of release:2005
Info:Genesis Project
Encoding & SoundPAL 4:3, Stereo


Awaken: Vienna By Night, Awakening: [Prologue, Gold, Blue, Red, Silver, Purple, Black, Green, Finale]

Genesis Project: The Battle Of Epping Forest, Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, Firth Of Fifth, Return Of The Giant Hogweed, The Fountain Of Salmacis, Can-Utility And The Coastliners, Eleventh Earl Of Mar, Robbery, Assault & Battery, The Musical Box, Supper's Ready, In That Quiet Earth, Afterglow

Genesis Project was instigated by keyboardist Ebert Zwart in 1998, specifically to perform the complete The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, which they did consistently between March 2000 and January 2001 in their native Netherlands. Encouraged by the success of the performances, three of the original members drafted in two new recruits and continued as a live entity performing Genesis music from the classic 1970 to 1977 period. Ironically, this DVD doesn’t include any material from the album that originally inspired them. The line up for this release, moving from stage left to right, includes Ebert Zwart on keys, guitarist Rob van Toledo, vocalist Charles Dehue, bassist Sven de Hann, and drummer Remco Engels. In April 2004 they formed the band Awaken as a side project. Given the name, I was expecting two tribute bands for the price of one, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the later creation was the result of Zwart and Engels’ desire for the band to perform their own “progressive rock” material.

The DVD was recorded live on 23 April 2005 at De Boerderij in Zoetermeer Netherlands, a regular venue for the band. The audience was treated to nearly three hours of music, with the performance captured on half a dozen or more cameras. There’s plenty of close ups of hands on keys and frets for the musos amongst you, with front of house shots capturing the visuals, including a rear screen with stills and videos projected. The picture quality is very good, especially considering that non-professional hand held cameras were used. The video trickery isn’t overdone, and includes some effective split screen work. The stereo sound is excellent, although the absence of surround sound options may be a drawback for some. The generous booklet contains stacks of on stage photos, plus artwork and original lyrics by Alice Switser, altogether an impressive package.

The Awaken set gets the DVD underway with Zwart and Toledo’s graceful Vienna By Night. This is a beautiful classical guitar and piano duet, recalling Steve Hackett in similar mood, and the romantic classical style has shades of Anthony Phillips. A very promising start. The Awakening is a multi-movement suite in the symphonic rock style pioneered by the likes of Genesis and Camel where melody is as important as atmosphere and dynamics. The spoken Prologue provides a hesitant start, before Gold introduces the memorable main theme. As the piece develops it takes in several mood and tempo changes, providing variations on the same theme. The energetic organ solo in Blue, the lyrical guitar in Red, and the bass and drums workout in Purple are all strong highlights. There is fine ensemble playing through out, including a breezy jazz-fusion excursion in the rhythmic Silver. The gloomy Black put my attention span to the test, but Green is a pleasant interlude, anticipating the return of the main theme for the Finale. The build is slightly ponderous to start, but the vocals are suitably rousing, with guitar and keys interplay providing an effective conclusion. Personally, I found the pre-recorded spoken narration, which crops up throughout, an unnecessary distraction disrupting the flow of the music. Zwart composed the music for Awakening, and whilst it doesn’t reach epic status, it has some worthy moments, and does bode well for the bands future.

As the Genesis Project, with each member save the vocalist now all dressed in white, they perform nearly two hours of vintage music. The Battle Of Epping Forest sets the standard for the rest of the show, and just five minutes in you know it’s going to be a good one. With the emphasis on the Selling England By The Pound album to begin, looking completely relaxed the band work their way through an excellent selection of songs. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight is a little ragged around the edges, but Firth Of Fifth ably demonstrates the bands command of the material. The piano introduction, synth instrumental, and lengthy guitar solo are all delivered with skill and conviction. They occasionally deviate from the Genesis template, but this only adds to the enjoyment. The flute parts played on keys work well for example, and I particularly liked the extended guitar part at the end of Supper's Ready. The keyboard work, an essential element of Genesis music, is solid throughout, although some of the organ and symphonic sounds lack the weight of the trusty Hammond and Mellotron of old. This is a minor point however, with Zwart skilfully reproducing the distinctive Banks sound on his array of keyboards.

The presence of the Gibson Les Paul Custom and Rickenbacker by Toledo and Haan respectively will bring a nod of approval from the musicians amongst you. Drummer Engels comfortably replicates the Genesis engine room, although his use of cymbals is more pronounced than I can recall from Collins. Vocalist Dehue, bearing more than a passing resemblance to Michael Ball and Greg Lake, carries the frontman duties with aplomb. He struggles to reach some of the higher notes of Collins, but does a superb job covering the warmer vocal tones of Gabriel. His performance in Supper's Ready is particularly impressive. His efforts to duplicate the stage wear on the other hand were ill advised in my opinion. The Britannia costume for Dancing With The Moonlit Knight is best forgotten, and the flower head dress in Supper’s Ready looks like a hasty purchase from a local toyshop. However, the ‘old man’ mask for The Musical Box goes down well with the audience, with arm waving throughout suggesting that the older tunes are definitely in favour. Both The Musical Box and Supper’s Ready are memorable highlights, with Zwart providing 6-string acoustic guitar support to Toledo’s 12-string, giving Engels the opportunity to display his keyboard skills.

Throughout the show, Genesis stills and video footage are projected on the rear screen, with the animated antics of Gabriel catching the eye. With the Gabriel years dominating the main set, In That Quiet Earth and Afterglow from the Collins era provide a fitting encore to a memorable performance. Stay tuned for the credits and artwork gallery sequence at the end, with One For The Vine providing the backing. Fans will also recognise an instrumental snippet from Blood On The Rooftops during the menu, and the song titles set against the original album artwork is another nice touch. In a review a short while ago I was critical of tribute bands and albums. With this release, the band appears to have come up with the perfect solution and they deserve every success with it. Fans of Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot era Genesis in particular would do well to check this out.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10


Lana Lane - 10th Anniversary Concert

Lana Lane - 10th Anniversary Concert [DVD]
Country of Origin:USA
Record Label:The Tank
Catalogue #:TTSO 0001
Year of release:2006
Time:DVD 78:00
CD 78:54
Info:Lana Lane
Encoding & SoundNTSC Region 0
Stereo, 5.1

Tracklist: Astrology Prelude - (Storybook, Return to Japan, Secrets of Astrology); Secrets of Astrology - (Storybook, Return to Japan, Secrets of Astrology); LIAA Overture - (Love Is An Illusion); Into the Ether - (Love Is An Illusion); Curious Goods Part One - (Curious Goods); Emerald City - (Curious Goods); Athena's Shadow - (Return to Japan and Ballad Collection); Nevermore - (Ballad Collection); Garden of the Moon - (Storybook, Return to Japan CD, Garden of the Moon, and Lana Lane and Erik Norlander European Tour 2003 Souvenir CD); In the Hall of the Ocean Queen - (Storybook, Return to Japan, Lana Lane and Erik Norlander European Tour 2003 Souvenir CD, Queen of the Ocean); Souls of the Mermaids - (Queen of the Ocean); Romeo and Juliet - (Project Shangri-La, Secrets of Astrology); The Vision - (Lady Macbeth); Redemption Part One - (Project Shangri-La); Tears of Babylon – (Project Shangri-La); Someone to Believe - (Lady Macbeth); December Moon - (Winter Sessions); Destination Roswell - (Storybook, Garden of the Moon Special Edition); and Symphony of Angels - (Storybook, Return to Japan, Garden of the Moon Special Edition, Curious Goods, Queen of the Ocean)

Tracklist: Bonus Audio CD The tracks follow the same order as the DVD minus the two Astrology tracks.

The latest DVD release from Lana Lane, who many Europeans and Asians have come to recognize over the past 10 years as the Queen of Symphonic Rock, is a must for any prog-rock enthusiast and most assuredly every Lana Lane fan. Celebrating 10 years of recording, Lane is sharing the full concert from her final show in Tokyo, Japan from the 2005 "Lana Lane 10th Anniversary Tour".

Recorded on June 30, 2005, the 2-hour dual layer “DVD-9” disc contains all 19 songs from the concert. In addition to the concert there is a video Tour Diary containing candid “behind the scenes” footage of the entire tour from Europe to the USA to Japan. Both stereo and DTS 5.1 surround audio tracks are offered. The DVD has been released worldwide in NTSC format in Region 0, to ensure maximum compatibility.

It is fitting that the DVD of the 10th Year Anniversary Tour would be of part of the tour that was in Japan. According to Lane, Japan is where it all started,

"The tour was really fulfilling for me because my Japanese fans were the ones that started it all for me. To be able to finish the 10th Anniversary Tour in Japan was like coming home in a way."

The 10th Anniversary Concert package also includes a bonus 78:54 minute audio CD that contains all but the songs "Astrology Prelude" and "Secrets of Astrology" due to the space limitations of the CD medium. Producer Erik Norlander explains in the CD's liner notes that something had to be eliminated. So because live versions of these two songs already appear on the Return to Japan CD released in 2004 he and Lane decided the “Astrology” tunes would get the cut. However, for completist collectors, arrangements will be made for these two songs to be purchased via digital downloaded.

The concert itself reflects the 10 year recording career of Lane, with selections from each of her previous albums, including two tunes from the recent Lady Macbeth.

"We chose at least one song from every Lana Lane album, and aside from the intro and encores, we played them all in chronological order so as to tell the story of the past 10 years,”

said Lane. The entire DVD has 19 tracks, including six instrumental tracks featuring Norlander.

Norlander commented in a group e-mail recently on the special effects on the video during Romeo and Juliet,

"Has anybody noticed the video presentation on this one? It's a bit different than the other songs. Aside from the beautiful conceptual footage from Raj Naik, the verses are shown in black and white and the choruses in colour. It's keeping with the story of the song with b/w for the past and colour for the present and future. I was rather proud of that concept!”

The DVD has been released in Japan on the Avalon label and in North America on Think Tank Media. It will be available in Europe on March 11, 2006 on Frontiers Records. All versions are identical - there are no bonus tracks on any edition and again - all editions are NTSC Region 0 for worldwide compatibility.

As always, Lane delivers a powerful punch on every track. No mushed-out frilly girly pieces, this hard-rocking concert has enough drive to hold the attention of true rock and rollers. Produced and co-written by Lane’s husband, Erik Norlander, this show and CD is one no symphonic rock fan will want to miss.

Lane’s strong feminine performance comes across as mystical as her song lyrics, but to be sure, the operative word here is “strong”. With plenty of thunder, Lane and Norlander continue to please crowds with the power in their performances. Her voice is clear and strong as always. The lady rocks and just proves it one more time that there is no argument that she is among the best of vocalists. This is symphonic rock at its best with her amazing voice out front that can seductively soothe or shake the rafters. Powerfully belting out each hard driving rock number well above the other musicians, she can also settle into a sensitive ballad when the song calls for it - just another aspect of Lane’s vocal abilities that she excels at, without losing any of the energy or dynamics as she switches from mood to mood and register to register. Simply put, she doesn't just hit the notes and get the words right, she evokes the emotions behind the tunes and meaning between the lines.

So, there is no question that Lane is a master at interpreting songs well vocally or that she is adept at taking the material in musically adventurous directions that surprise and delight the listener whether the songs are her own creations or covers of other great tunes. But it is her talents at writing moving, poignant lyrics that can lift the listener into what can only be described as “another dimension”. Her considerable gifts as a lyricist and storyteller, stories laced with fantasy and mystery as she explores the complexities of life and relationships with grace and subtlety, have taken her where few other female artists have dared to tread. But just as hard to ignore is her genuine passion for music, and music-making, that comes through in every line she sings.

But she could hardly miss with Norlander on top of the production. As expected, he does not disappoint one bit as a master producer or as a keyboardist. As a musician/technician, he sets the mood of each tune, painting with vibrant colours of crescendos and extended progressive chords, which masterfully support and drive Lane’s voice from song to song.

The band is an excellent group of master musicians, most of whom have supported Lane for most of the past ten years.

"I could not have asked for a tighter and more passionate band than Peer, Ernst, Kris, Mark and Erik. They are truly great on all levels.”

Lane has worked with some incredible artists throughout her ten-year career. Some have contributed to the writing process of her songs, some in the studio and others on tour and on stage. This time, as can be seen on the DVD and in the extra tour footage, this band is all Lane says about them. This time around joining Lane and Norlander on stage were guitarists Peer Verschuren, and Mark McCrite, who were joined by newcomer Kristoffer Gildenlow on bass, and Ernst Van Ee on drums.

Without a doubt the past ten years have been incredible right from the beginning. Lane comes across in her performance as graceful but powerful and intense and always grateful for her fans. To her fans she says,

"Thank you so much for the continued support. It's because of my fans around the world that I get to keep doing what I love to do.”

This last tour, the DVD and CD would seem to be Lane and Norlander’s way of saying thanks to their fans. Even if that was not their intention it comes across as just that. When asked what is next for Lane, she gives her fans hope for more,

"I'm working on some new songs and ideas for the next 10 years!”


Spaced Out – Live In 2000

Spaced Out – Live In 2000 [DVD]
Country of Origin:Canada
Record Label:Unicorn Digital
Catalogue #:UNCDVD-001
Year of release:2005
Info:Spaced Out
Encoding & SoundAll Regions
Stereo 2.0

Tracklist: Jamosphere, Green Teeth, Toxix, A Freak Az, Delirium Tremens, Magnetyzme, The Fifth Dimension, Futurosphere, Glassosphere, For The Trees Too, Trophallaxie, Sever The Seven, Furax

Extras: Making The DVD; Antoine’s biography; Martin’s Biography

Spaced Out is a Canadian fusion quartet, lead by virtuoso bassist Antoine Fafard, with a string of release on the Unicorn Digital label. After being impressed with their third effort Slow Gin I was keen to check out this live DVD.

Featuring an earlier line-up than that appearing on Slow Gin, with Louis Cote on guitar instead of Mark Trembley, and a full band role for keyboardist Eric St Jean who only guested on the later album, the DVD is an intimate portrayal of the band in performance. The camera stays close to the stage at all times, often capturing detailed close-ups of solo action from all four participants, mixed in with on-stage group shots. In fact, only one camera was used to shoot the concert, and some of the visuals are in fact shown out of context, to facilitate a more varied visual display. This editing is expertly handled, and the misplaced shots are hard to spot. What you are hearing is not always what you are seeing being played, but this is not apparent unless you really watch out for it.

As a player, Fafard has to be seen to be believed, and I found my listening pleasure was greatly enhanced by being able to see just how his fingers execute those lighting runs. The same can be said for guitarist Cote, very much in the mould of Allan Holdsworth or Terje Rypdal, and a great user of the "whammy bar". And if this isn’t enough, for some reason some of the players occasionally wear horror masks, and still manage to keep up an awesome level of dexterity and accuracy.

Containing performances of 9 out of 10 tracks on their debut CD, as well as 4 tracks from their second disc, this no-frills (but plenty of thrills) DVD provides a great opportunity to observe at close hand the phenomenal playing of these superb musicians. The style of music is blistering hot jazz fusion, with a high energy rock feel and an occasional metallic edge. With many of the pieces having a similar feel I wouldn’t want to watch this all in one go (but fusion freaks may well lap it all up), but with convenient track access, dip into this DVD anywhere and you are guaranteed a slice of scorching fusion.

The extras are only three very brief text files with notes on the making of the DVD, and potted bio’s of the bassist and drummer. They don’t amount to much at all.

Considering the limitations imposed by a restricted budget and shortage of camera footage, this is a sterling effort and will delight any Spaced Out fan. A new studio album should appear later this year.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10


Album Reviews