Yes, DVDs Rock

Jesse Christen

Jesse Christen

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m behind the times. I still listen to vinyl albums, which is all right in a music nerd type of way, but I lack technological savvy; I just purchased a DVD player two weeks ago.

Now I’m making up for my lost time. I’m purchasing music DVDs so I can replace my worn out VHS copies.

Here’s a couple of concert films I’ve purchased lately.

Jimi Hendrix: Jimi Plays Berkeley

This film was made less than six months before Hendrix’s untimely death. It took place at the Berkeley Community Center, a small venue that Hendrix’s manager, chose for it’s intimate setting.

The group Hendrix used was the second incarnation of his widely popular Experience, combining original experience drummer Mitch Mitchell with the Band of Gypsies bassist, and Hendrix’s close friend from his stint in the military, Billy Cox.

Needless to say, but Hendrix’s guitar work is great. The first song in the film is a cover of Chuck Berry’s ode to a talented guitarist, “Johnny B. Goode.” Hendrix is at his high-energy best, knocking out Chuck’s patented double-stop guitar licks while throwing in his spaced out blues licks and tremolo dive-bombs.

Unfortunately, the film edits many of the longer Hendrix numbers like “Machine Gun,” which is always a 15 minute-plus jam, into a four minute user friendly format. It makes me feel cheated.

The musical tracks from Jimi Plays Berkeley are beautifully remastered by Hendrix producer Eddie Kramer. Actually, the DVD contains a full-length audio only

Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers: LAMF

This band only made one real album. And we’re lucky that it even happened. Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers are quite possibly the most self-destructive band in rock history.

Johnny Thunders was the lead guitarist in the legendary New York Dolls. Thunders, and Dolls drummer Jerry Nolan got tired of hanging out far away from their home of New York City in Florida under the management of future Sex Pistols mastermind Malcolm McClaren.

Thunders and Nolan split for home, and their steady heroin connections. Needless to say, junkies don’t make reliable anything, especially professional musicians.

The two teamed up with another pre-punk legend, Richard Hell, who filled the bass slot. Soon another lead guitarist and singer/songwriter, Walter Lure, joined the group and they became known as Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers.

The Heartbreakers were promoted with the phrase, “catch them while they are still alive.” And it was no joke; all members of the band were junkies and New York City street thugs.

Hell wanted to sing all the songs, the others said “no.” So a another creep by the name of Billy Wrath replaced Hell. The band played around New York from ’74 to ’77 with no record deal. Thunders and the others were too unreliable, even by ’70s rock standards.

But when punk was a smash hit in England, McClaren, the Sex Pistols’ manager and former Dolls manager, invited the Heartbreakers on the Pistols’ Anarchy Tour. The Heartbreakers were already stars in England due to the New York Dolls connection.

In England, the Heartbreakers were snatched up by Track Records, the Who’s record label. LAMF was the result.

The album featured songs that were pictures of New York junkie life and unhealthy love and lust songs about Thunder’s former girlfriend, famous rock groupie Sable Starr.

“Born to Lose,” “One Track Mind,” “Chinese Rocks,”and “Going Steady” are songs that classic rock radio should play, but doesn’t.

The Heartbreakers broke up soon after LAMF’s release.

While the English punk scene was obsessed with image and fashion, the Heartbreakers were just real creeps. Even the Sex Pistols were scared of them.