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Category: Music DVDs

Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same [1976] (buy now)

Bombastic, pretentious and narcissistic, Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same is also one of the best concert films of the 1970s, capturing the greatest rock band of the decade in full flight at Madison Square Gardens in 1973. The notorious "fantasy sequences" punctuate the musical action but don't, fortunately, interrupt it. Playing true to their self-indulgent rock & roll personas, each band member has his own segment, as does legendary larger-than-life manager Peter Grant. Only John Bonham's is reasonably down-to-earth: during his mammoth drum solo ("Moby Dick") he is seen driving his custom car, his Harley chopper, and a drag racer at Santa Pod, as well as inspecting bulls and doing a bit of building work. Well, what else would a working-class lad from Birmingham do with his millions? Elsewhere, John Paul Jones is a demented Phantom of the Opera with an unfeasibly large organ ("No Quarter"); Robert Plant is a quasi-Arthurian knight errant rescuing a suitable rock-chick damsel in distress ("The Song Remains the Same/Rain Song"); while Aleister Crowley acolyte Jimmy Page goes in for sorcery and mysticism as he encounters the wizard from the cover of Led Zep IV ("Dazed & Confused"). But the real magic is the onstage footage: Page wields his Gibson Les Paul as if he is indeed enchanted (the violin bow becomes his magician's wand in "Dazed & Confused"), while Plant preens and prowls his way around the stage, the very image of the rock idol; and quite how Jones and Bonham managed to be such a behemoth of a rhythm section is still a mystery. For all its many faults, this remains an essential document of an era when rock dinosaurs still walked the earth.

On the DVD: No extra features to speak of at all, which is extremely disappointing given the wealth of archive material concerning the band and this movie that must be available. The picture and sound are respectable without being exceptional. --Mark Walker

Price: £4.97

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Evita [1997] (buy now)

After more than a decade of false starts and several potential directors, the popular Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical finally made it to the big screen with Alan Parker (The Commitments) at the helm and Madonna in the coveted title role of Argentina's first lady, Eva Perón. A triumph of production design, costuming, cinematography, and epic-scale pageantry, the film follows the rise of Eva Perón to the level of supreme social and political celebrity in the 1940s. Like Madonna, Perón was a material girl (she was only 33 when she died); she was instrumental in the political success of her husband, Juan Perón (Jonathan Pryce). But Eva was also a supremely tragic figure whose life was essentially hollow at its core despite the lavish benefits of her nearly goddess-like status. The film Evita has a similar quality--it's visually astonishing but emotionally distant, and benefits greatly from the singing commentary of Ché (Antonia Banderas), who serves as a passionate chorus to guide the viewer through the elaborate parade of history. --Jeff Shannon

Price: £4.97

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Woodstock [1969] (buy now)

The three-day Woodstock music festival in 1969 was the pivotal event of the 1960s peace movement, and this landmark concert film is the definitive record of that milestone of rock 'n' roll history. It's more than a chronicle of the hippie movement, however; this is a film of genuine historical and social importance, capturing the spirit of America in transition, when the Vietnam War was at its peak and antiwar protest was fully expressed through the liberating music of the time. With a brilliant crew at his disposal (including a young editor named Martin Scorsese), director Michael Wadleigh worked with over 300 hours of footage to create his original 225-minute director's cut, which was cut by 40 minutes for the film's release in 1970. Eight previously edited segments were restored in 1994, and the original director's cut of Woodstock is now the version most commonly available on videotape and DVD.

The film deservedly won the Academy Award for Best Documentary, and it's still a stunning achievement. Abundant footage taken among the massive crowd ("half a million strong") expresses the human heart of the event, from skinny-dipping hippies to accidental overdoses, to unpredictable weather, mid-concert childbirth, and the thoughtful (or just plain rambling) reflections of the festive participants. Then, of course, there is the music--a non-stop parade of rock 'n' roll from the greatest performers of the period, including Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Canned Heat, The Who, Richie Havens, Joan Baez, Ten Years After, Sly & The Family Stone, Santana, and many more. Watching this ambitious film, as the saying goes, is the next best thing to being there--it's a time-travel journey to that once-in-a-lifetime event. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com

Price: £7.98

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Pink Floyd - Pulse (Two Discs) (DVD) [1994] (buy now)

At long last Pink Floyd: Pulse has arrived on DVD, and Floyd fans already know it's a major cause to celebrate. The original VHS release was a milestone bestseller, but it seemed to take forever for the DVD to arrive, with numerous delays while Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and long-time Floyd producer James Guthrie labored to restore, re-edit, and remix this legendary concert video in 5.1-channel Dolby Surround Sound. The resulting two-disc set was well worth the wait: While the limitations of the original video source are still evident in the sometimes-hazy image quality (Gilmour would later admit the concert should have been captured on film), Floyd fans will unanimously agree that Pulse has never looked or sounded better, and only the absence of group co-founder Roger Waters prevents this from being the ultimate document of Pink Floyd in performance. (Even without Waters, it's easily one of the group's most impressive stage productions.) Gracefully directed with minimal intrusion by veteran music video and concert director David Mallet, and shot on video during Pink Floyd's two-week stint at London's Earls Court Exhibition Centre in October 1994, this 145-minute performance (from Floyd's Division Bell tour) is a sonic marvel to behold. Under a massive arch festooned with then-state-of-the-art laser, lighting, and projection systems, the 1987 incarnation of Pink Floyd (Gilmour, keyboardist Richard Wright, and drummer Nick Mason) and their stellar supporting band kicks off with "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" (a loving tribute to Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett), followed by four tracks from The Division Bell, two from 1987's A Momentary Lapse of Reason, "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" from 1979's magnum opus The Wall, and leading into intermission with absolutely stunning performance of "One of These Days," the timeless opening track from 1971's Meddle.

The centerpiece of Disc 2 is a near-perfect performance of 1974's Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety--reason enough to make this a must-have DVD for even the most casual Floyd admirers. And while no one will ever re-create the sheer magnificence of Clare Torry's original tour de force vocals on "The Great Gig in the Sky," it's safe to say that backup singers Sam Brown, Claudia Fontaine, and Durga McBroom deliver the next best thing, in addition to seamless contributions throughout the concert. After the closing heartbeat of "Eclipse," the concert ends with encore performances of "Wish You Were Here," "Comfortably Numb," and a no-holds-barred, pyrotechnically explosive rendition of The Wall's "Run Like Hell," all showcasing Gilmour's guitar mastery with frequent close-ups of his picking and fret-work as seen throughout the concert. (Like Gilmour, Mason and Wright were never dynamic onstage, and that's true here as well, but their technical precision is fully evident, and while guitarist Tim Renwick and saxophonist Dick Parry are each given moments to shine, bassist Guy Pratt is a worthy substitution for Waters, especially when vocally sparring with Gilmour on "Run Like Hell.")

With beautiful packaging, an 8-page booklet, and menu designs by long-time Floyd associate Storm Thorgerson, the DVDs offer an abundance of bonus features including "Bootlegging the Bootleggers," featuring surprisingly good-quality "boot" video performances of "What Do You Want From Me?," "On the Turning Away," "Poles Apart," and "Marooned." The surreal round-ratio screen films seen throughout the concert can all be viewed independently (still in round format, and several offered in both original and alternate versions). Music videos for "Learning to Fly" and "Take It Back" are included on Disc 1, along with "Tour Stuff" including maps, itineraries, and stage plans for the 1994 tour. "Say Goodbye to Life as We Know It" is a playful backstage video (mostly involving the production staff's ongoing quest for a good pint of beer), and after delivering a heartfelt introduction to Pink Floyd's 1996 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (with Roger Waters and Syd Barrett acknowledged by Gilmour), Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan joins Gilmour and Wright for a moving acoustic performance of "Wish You Were Here" (directed at Waters, perhaps?). Additional features include album cover art, a photo gallery, and the concert-only audio choice between a 448kbps audio bitstream or a higher-quality 640kbps stream for higher-quality DVD players. The system set-up feature ensures that audiophiles will achieve optimum speaker performance in keeping with Pink Floyd's exacting technical standards. In tandem with the superior concert presentation, these features make Pulse one of the best--if not the best--music DVDs of 2006, guaranteed to satisfy Floyd fans for many years to come. --Jeff Shannon

Price: £15.98

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Cry Baby (Directors Edition) [1990] (buy now)

Price: £5.97

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Pink - Live From Wembley Arena [2007] (buy now)

Slick and earthy at the same time, Live from Wembley Arena picks up where Live in Europe left off. In this case, Pink, looking like Wendy O. Williams in black eyeliner and blond crop, is captured in one London show, circa December 2006, rather than in highlights from several. Since the first live DVD, she released her fourth album. There is, naturally, some overlap between the two videos--notably, "Trouble" and "God Is a DJ"--but the singer adds several songs from I'm Not Dead, like the title track, "U + Ur Hand," and "Stupid Girls." This time, however, there are no covers, except for a nod to "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" during "Get the Party Started." Along with her talented troupe of backing dancers, she busts plenty of moves herself, particularly on the flamenco-flavored "There You Go." Then, on "Fingers," she ups the ante with death-defying Cirque Du Soleil-style acrobatics while suspended above the stage. There's also a lot of strong singing, although she must surely be lip-syncing during "Fingers" (it's hard to carry a tune while doing somersaults in the air), and her voice does start to abandon her during "What's Up." Fortunately, the audience helps out by joining in on the chorus. Pink confirms her versatility by performing "The One That Got Away" and "Dear Mr. President" in acoustic mode. And the number of costume changes--around a dozen--would surely turn Cher green with envy.--Kathleen C. Fennessy

Price: £9.98

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Neil Young - Heart Of Gold (buy now)

Price: £6.97

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Jon Chappell - Learning Guitar For Dummies (buy now)

Price: £8.98

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Bruce Springsteen With The Sessions Band - Live In Dublin (buy now)

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Paul Weller - Into Tomorrow [2006] (buy now)

Price: £11.98

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Billy Fury - His Wondrous Story (buy now)

Price: £11.98

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The Secret-Extended Edition by Rhonda Byrne [2006] (REGION 1) (NTSC) (buy now)

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Moulin Rouge - Single Disc Edition [2001] (buy now)

Price: £5.97

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The Rolling Stones - The Biggest Bang [2007] (buy now)

Price: £29.98

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Queen - The DVD Collection: Live At Wembley Stadium (Two Disc Set) [1986] (buy now)

A complete concert of one of the best bands live, Queen Live at Wembley Stadium is the record of one remarkable summer night in 1986. This really was history in the making: no-one, except possibly Freddie Mercury, could have guessed that the band would only ever play two more concerts in the UK and would never return to Wembley.

Director Gavin Taylor's omnipresent cameras, including stunning aerial views, also remind us of the glories of the now-defunct stadium and its signature towers, such a perfect venue for Queen's epic staging, with their massive video screen and dazzling light show.

The second night playing to a capacity crowd saw the band at the peak of their form, riding high on the popular success of their recent string of hits: "A Kind of Magic", "I Want to Break Free", "Radio Ga Ga" and "One Vision" all feature here alongside earlier favourites from "Seven Seas of Rhye" through "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Will Rock You" to "Another One Bites the Dust" and "Under Pressure". In short, a veritable greatest hits collection--all performed with larger-than-life gusto, boundless exuberance and impeccable musicianship. In a period when most new bands were content to mime along to weedy synthesised backing tracks, Queen were simply bigger, bolder and a whole lot more fun than anyone else. Freddie Mercury's extraordinary stage presence is likely to remain forever unsurpassed.

On the DVD: Queen Live at Wembley Stadium is a superb memento of this memorable night. Disc 1 contains the entire Saturday gig (almost two hours) remastered in vivid DTS 5.1 or PCM Stereo. The second disc collects both contemporary and brand-new material, including new interviews with Brian May and Roger Taylor. "A Beautiful Day" is a good documentary made at the time. More exciting is the wealth of unseen footage, both from the Friday night show and the band in rehearsal. There are "Queen Cam" views of each band member, and a photo gallery. Most poignant is a time-lapse short, "Wembley Towers", showing the philistine destruction of these national monuments. It's a fitting epitaph for this great live band. --Mark Walker

Price: £13.98

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Bryan Ferry - Dylanesque Live - The London Sessions (buy now)

Price: £9.98

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Yusuf Islam - Yusuf's Cafe Session - Live At The Porchester Hall [2007] (buy now)

Price: £17.99

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George Michael - Twenty Five [2006] (buy now)

Price: £9.98

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Paul Rogers - Live In Glasgow (buy now)

Price: £10.48

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The Last Waltz [1978] (buy now)

Price: £3.97

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Latinasize [2006] (buy now)

Price: £12.98

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Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (Special Edition) [1994] (buy now)

For those who never thought Disney would release a film in which Santa Claus is kidnapped and tortured, well, here it is. The full title is Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, which should give you an idea of the tone of this stop-action animated musical/fantasy/horror/comedy. It is based on characters created by Burton, the former Disney animator best known as the director of Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and the first two Batman movies. His benignly scary-funny sensibility dominates the story of Halloweentown resident Jack Skellington (voice by Danny Elfman, who also wrote the songs), who stumbles on a bizarre and fascinating alternative universe called ... Christmastown! Directed by Henry Selick (who later made the delightful James and the Giant Peach), this PG-rated picture has a reassuringly light touch. As Roger Ebert noted in his review, "some of the Halloween creatures might be a tad scary for smaller children, but this is the kind of movie older kids will eat up; it has the kind of offbeat, subversive energy that tells them wonderful things are likely to happen." --Jim Emerson

On the DVD:This Special edition is a must for all Burton fans with the biggest gem to be found on a DVD release--"Tim Burtons Early Films" which holds his first two works. Vincent is clear predecessor of Nightmare before Christmas using the same stop-animation style and voiced superbly by Vincent Price himself; and Frankenweenie--a B&W live-action flick--takes you back to early B-movie territory seen through the eyes of a boy. Added to these films is a great special-features menu including a short documentary offering an interview with Burton, which exposes the inspiration for this magical animation and presents the three-year task of making the "Nightmare". On top of this is an in-depth commentary by director Henry Selick and Art director Pete Kozachik and layer upon layer of "character development" offering an insight into the intensity of thought that went into making these animated figures real. You also get a great selection of storyboards along with the sequences they manifest into, deleted storyboards and an animated sequence with a surprise alternative ending. The menu is beautifully animated in keeping with the style of artwork in the film. With a 1.66:1 widescreen format and Dolby digital transfer this charming DVD is perfect for Halloween, Christmas and beyond! --Nikki Disney

Price: £9.98

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Pineapple Studios - Everybody Dance (buy now)

Pineapple Studios and AVID Entertainment are proud to launch a new range of dance instruction titles called Everybody Dance! Everybody Dance is a fun and stylish dance class for you and your friends. Learn the latest dance moves that will give you lots of confidence on the dance floor. Top choreographer to the stars Paulette Minott (Trouble TVs Bump N Grind; MTV) will take you through four highly effective pop routines that are well structured and easy to follow. The choreography is for everyone new to dance and those with more experience who would like to learn a strong and confident style of commercial dance inspired by artists like Christina Aguilera, Pussycat Dolls and Nelly Furtado. So join Paulette and the Pineapple Dance Troupe for a high quality, fun and sexy teaching class that will help you to develop your dance skills. DVD FEATURES * Full body warm up session * Step By Step teach instructions by Paulette Minott covering routines for; MANEATER - NELLY FURTADO ** SOS (RESCUE ME) - RIHANNA** AINT NO OTHER MAN - CHRISTINA AGUILERA ** BEEP - THE PUSSYCAT DOLLS ** (** Denotes the artist that made the song a hit) * Alternative live switchable camera angles; Focus on footwork and Full wide angle * Full performance of each routine in pop video setting * Full body cool down session * Top Make Up Tips section from Double Take Studios * Meet the dancers of The Pineapple Dance Troupe

Price: £6.98

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Eurovision Song Contest 2007 (buy now)

Price: £13.99

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Live Aid [1985] (buy now)

Price: £31.98

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Foo Fighters - Skin And Bones (buy now)

Price: £7.97

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Thoroughly Modern Millie [1967] (buy now)

Price: £4.97

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Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man [2006] (buy now)

Price: £16.98

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Pink Floyd - The Wall (25th Anniversary Limited Edition - 1982) (buy now)

By any rational measure, Alan Parker's cinematic interpretation of Pink Floyd's The Wall is a glorious failure. Glorious because its imagery is hypnotically striking, frequently resonant and superbly photographed by the gifted cinematographer Peter Biziou. And a failure because the entire exercise is hopelessly dour, loyal to the bleak themes and psychological torment of Roger Waters' great musical opus, and yet utterly devoid of the humour that Waters certainly found in his own material. Any attempt to visualise The Wall would be fraught with artistic danger, and Parker succumbs to his own self-importance, creating a film that's as fascinating as it is flawed. The film is, for better and worse, the fruit of three artists in conflict--Parker indulging himself, and Waters in league with designer Gerald Scarfe, whose brilliant animated sequences suggest that he should have directed and animated this film in its entirety. Fortunately, this clash of talent and ego does not prevent The Wall from being a mesmerising film. Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof (in his screen debut) is a fine choice to play Waters's alter ego--an alienated, "comfortably numb" rock star whose psychosis manifests itself as an emotional (and symbolically physical) wall between himself and the cold, cruel world. Weaving Waters's autobiographical details into his own jumbled vision, Parker ultimately fails to combine a narrative thread with experimental structure. It's a rich, bizarre, and often astonishing film that will continue to draw a following, but the real source of genius remains the music of Roger Waters. --Jeff Shannon

Price: £12.97

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