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Recently, supergroups have been springing up like it’s the late ’70s again. Them Crooked Vultures (Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, and John Paul Jones) and Black Country Communion (Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham, Derek Sherinian, and Joe Bonamassa) have been garnering headlines lately, but Chickenfoot was one of the biggest to spring up in the last couple of years.
Formed unofficially in February 2008 when former Van Halen members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, and guitarist Joe Satriani met at a Hagar concert in Las Vegas. In the words of Anthony, "It was just too much fun to pass up." That attitude drove both their self-titled debut album and this live DVD. Chickenfoot is about having fun and putting on a great show. Even though the members have a whopping 46 platinum albums between them, they manage to put their successes behind them and put on a good show by simply rocking. It’s not pretentious art rock, and there’s nothing too sophisticated about the music. It feels and sounds like four friends just jamming in their garage—even when they’re playing in front of a giant crowd.
The main drawback to this DVD is that Chickenfoot has only one album, so there’s not a lot here that isn’t on the CD. The only exceptions are the band’s show-closing covers of Montrose’s "Bad Motor Scooter" and the Who’s "My Generation" (Hagar plays slide on the former). If you’re looking for a great rock concert, check this one out, but if you’re looking for new music you might be better off waiting for their next album. Chickenfoot doesn’t cover a lot of new ground on this DVD, but they do show that the road forward is already paved—and it looks like a great trip. —BB
Judas Priest – British Steel: 30th Anniversary Edition
If you’re a metal fan, you probably can’t count how many times you’ve sat through arguments over whether Megadeth is better than Metallica, who was the best shredder of the ’80s, or what is the greatest heavy metal album of all time. For a lot of people, that album is Judas Priest’s 1980 monsterwork, British Steel. The incredibly influential album still rings in the skulls of metalheads everywhere, and to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its release the band has rereleased the record with a bonus DVD containing a very special treat for fans: video of the band performing the entire British Steel record—from start to finish—for the first time ever.
The recording is of the August 17, 2009, show in Hollywood, Florida—the concert that kicked off Priest’s 30th-anniversary tour. It’s pretty incredible watching a band in which most members are nearing 60 but they still rock harder than most bands today. And they played the album perfectly, with fluid ease. Vocalist Rob Halford proves he is still one of the greatest singers in rock ’n’ roll by consistently hitting every falsetto note with precision and hair-raising emotion. The sound and video quality is extremely clear, without any visual artifacts from transfer or conversion processes, too.
After watching this DVD over and over, I can only hope that I can be this cool when I finally reach that age. What’s funny is that, even with a track list that’s 30 years old—Judas Priest can still bring out your 16-year-old metalhead. An absolute must for the hardcore Judas Priest fan. —JW
Guitar Player Wanted, Vocals a Plus
Karan Andrea is a guitarist, songwriter, and singer who has distilled several years of vocal training into a two-disc set (DVD and CD) that covers things like vocal anatomy, breath control, vocal exercise, and warm-ups for use in singing a multitude of musical styles. She states right at the beginning that she’s teaching only technique, exercise, and control—not style—so that you can apply your own style to your vocal instrument.
Andrea cleverly takes what we already know as guitar players—melody, chord structure, harmonization, pitch, time, and tone—and helps us apply that knowledge to the instrument that we haven’t spent years mastering. The DVD starts out a little slow, but soon digs into the heart of the matter. Using detailed drawings of the entire vocal system, she offers easy visualizations that help you understand the system you’re learning to control. Breaking it down to two simple concepts—the vocal cord "zipper" and the "low or relaxed larynx"—Andrea offers a set of exercises designed to help people who think they can’t sing become real singers.
I think we can all agree that vocal exercises are incredibly silly things that make you feel ridiculous, embarrassed, strange, goofy, and all kinds of uncomfortable. But once you get past the embarrassment and get to the incredible improvements that can come about with training and exercise, you’ll gladly look a little silly. The initial exercises are pretty elementary, but even experienced singers who have no actual training will find insight and improvement here.
The CD with has the same 25 exercises as the DVD, so you can use it in your car or in your home. Fantastically helpful for anyone wanting to improve their vocals at any point during the day. —GDP