I know what you are thinking, gee Ken you guys sure did like a lot of stuff over the course of 2009 and you are not kidding. This will be my last installment from the “Best Of” rundowns and we will not only cover the videos and books that we enjoyed the most but also will line out a bunch of the things that disappointed us here at the Metal Media Command HQ. DVD releases continued to impress and amaze as not only were new and exciting videos being released but also a number of cool historical archives had finally come to see the light of day. We reviewed quite a bit of them this year and still have a number of them to go but the list below focuses on some of our favorites which we made sure to line out first to be a part of this list. Let’s take a look.
The Best DVD’s of 2009:
Iron Maiden “Flight 666” (Universal Music): Maiden’s documentary about their “Somewhere Back In Time” World Tour that discussed how the band flew their own airplane to dozens of countries to deliver the Metal to the faithful believers has to be seen to be believed. Filmed by the famous Sam Dunn of “Headbanger’s Journey” fame.
Anvil: “The Story Of Anvil” (VH1 Classic Records): Anvil finally gets their due and some proper attention based on this fine documentary film by Sasha Gervasi.
Journey “Live In Manila” (Wal-Mart): If you didn’t get enough of Arnel Pineda when Journey delivered us “Generations” then wait till you get a load of him doing his thing in his home country, the Philippines. This show rocks and the crowd was going crazy for their countryman as he led this legendary band into the future.
Rick Wakeman “The Six Wives Of Henry XIII” (Eagle Vision): Former Yes keyboard wizard gets to fulfill a dream performance and we are members of the audience thanks to this special DVD release. A companion CD was also offered and this is a must for the legends fans.
ZZ Top “Double Down Live” (Eagle Vision): This DVD presented not one, but two performances from ZZ Top and while one comes from recently, it is the vintage show from 1980 that is the one to appreciate most. There isn’t a lot of footage of the band that’s been made public, so this was something that many classic rock and blues rock fans can appreciate quite a bit.
Various Artists “The Last Day’s Of The Fillmore” (Rhino Entertainment): This film was fascinating for much more than its documenting of the closing days of The Fillmore West concert venue which was run by Bill Graham. I also appreciated its vivid depiction of old school office practices and how far we have come since this particular point in time. Fascinating when one thinks of it.
Renaissance “The Song Of Scheherazade” (MVD Entertainment): It wasn’t much visually based on the date of this archive but the fact that it captures the “key lineup” in this band’s history made it a fantastic part of music history.
Mayhem “Pure Fucking Mayhem” (Prophecy Productions): A really cool documentary that focuses on the beginnings of Mayhem and offers some insight on the bands formation by members of the band who were able to present such information.
Paul McCartney “Good Evening New York City” ( ): Sir Paul returns for the first time to the new Citi Field which was a few hundred yards away from the grounds on which Shea Stadium used to stand. The former Beatle performed an almost three hour set over the course of three nights and this is an amazing concert from beginning to end.
Various Artists “Woodstock: Three Days Of Peace and Music” (Warner Home Video): This iconic film got a remastering and a special edition release with some added performances and a better sound. This was the perfect way to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the historic festival.
Interesting Reads of 2009:
While the luxury of sitting down to a good book was not always an easy thing to do in 2009 based on the machine gun velocity of the concert happenings that we discussed above, there were a number of them which we enjoyed during the year and here are several that we recommend that you look into. Readers please pardon my strong KISS indulgence, but the band is one of my personal favorites and did find a number of tomes dedicated to their history and images. There was much more to read this year but we simply only had time for a choice few. The goal in 2010 is to read more, it helps the brain come out with writing a little bit easier by keeping it working.
“KISS Kompendium” by Various (Harper Collins Books): Finally collected in one place, a number of the comic book appearances of the masked men of Rock & Roll KISS. Since many of these comics are long out of print and that comic stores are not easy to come by its pretty cool to add this massive volume to your library.
“KISS – The Ultimate Fanzine Phenomenon” by Various (Phoenix Books): This astounding bit of journalism scours the world and delivers hundreds upon hundreds of covers of the various KISS fanzines throughout the decades. It’s cool to see just how loyal the bands fans are.
“Vintage KISS Photos” by Marc Scallatino (Self Published): Great images in a large volume taken by numerous photographers and many of them never seen before. Worth the price and something you will take your time looking at. My very first show ever which was a KISS one has some images in here so this book won me over easily.
“Metallica The Club Daze 1982-1984” by Bill Hale (ECW Press ): Wow, talk about cool images and this has them since we are speaking of Metallica during their infancy. Vintage is an understatement and this book presents one of Metal most legendary bands when they were hungrier than a starving shark.
“To Live Is to Die: The Life and Death of Metallica’s Cliff Burton” by Joel McIver & Kirk Hammett (Jawbone Press): A honest look at the life and eventual death of one of Metal most important bass players.
“The Illustrated Collector’s Guide To Alice Cooper” by Dale Sherman (Collectors Guide Publishing): If you are an Alice Cooper fanatic, this book is a must have and if you are just one of those people who wants to see all the different collectibles available then feast your eyes on this one.
“The Road To Woodstock” by Michael Lang (Harper Collins Books): Who better to discuss the organization and premise behind the Woodstock Festival of 1969 than one of the key players himself. This comes straight from the mouth and memories of Michael Lang.
The Worst of It All in 2009:
It’s really difficult to sit down and quantify something as “the Worst” of anything because with review being a matter of opinion, there are always going to be those who totally disagree with what I have labeled as such and lambaste me with views of their own. To me that is always welcome as debate about the Metal scene and only serves to foster it. With that said it should be made clear that with each and every dozen or so good releases we do come across that which we found painful to listen to, watch or attend in the live sense. Maybe it is more of a level of “disappointment” with it as it compares to something else the artist did as opposed to saying “wow this really sucks” but either way, these items do exist. Below are several items that we felt really let us down over the course of Metal Music Year 2009.
After Forever (Nuclear Blast Records) Disbands: After some fourteen years, the Symphonic Metal band decided to call it a day. Their latest release on Nuclear Blast was excellent and showed future promise but knowing how the industry finds many bands starving so I am guessing that having their entire back catalog held hostage by former label Transmission Records didn’t help matters much. With that label defunct, the owner refused all band attempts at reclaiming the releases and thereby making money from them. This sucked for all of their new and old fans so while we wish the band members a great success in whatever they choose to do going forward we also wish a big PiercingMetal “F**K You !!” to the folks who refused to release their music to them and were likely a core contributor to their disbanding.
To/Die/For Disbands: The Finnish Gothic Metal band decided to call it quits after citing a few years of bad luck in the bands eyes with promoters and just overall shitty individuals who caused their career numerous levels of grief. It’s a shame since the popularity of the genre and a solid tour as a support for a popular act probably could have had them reconsider and found them with a great audience. Of course setting stuff like this up is never easy and probably one of the catalysts for the disbanding. After I wrote all of this down as I was initially preparing this list the word came out that the band would continue along in some fashion. Good luck guys in whatever option you choose to go down just be careful of whom you deal with and when you announce breakups since that stuff spreads like wildfire.
Limp Bizkit Reunites: So do I need to even add anything more on this? I didn’t think so. Please move along folks there is nothing to see here.
No NYC Kamelot Show: Oh the humanity!!! I guess the guys were just too busy in Europe to pay us that usual visit that many of the stateside Melodic Power Metal fans have grown accustomed to. In a sense absence does truly make the heart grow fonder but please guys, don’t keep the Big Apple waiting much longer, we always love seeing you do your thing in this territory.
SPV Records Files For Insolvency: When I began PiercingMetal.com SPV Records was one of the earliest supporters of the initiative and remained a strong ally in the realm until the day that the news of their insolvency hit the Internet. The cruel economics of the industry really stung with this one and we shall miss them quite a bit. We also wish all those whom we dealt with at the company the very best for continued success in the ever hectic business we choose to work in.
Attendance Drops at Numerous Shows: As a Photojournalist, I am always told about how lucky I am to gain attendance to any show in the Big Apple because of its being the biggest market for most of the artists who come to visit, and I sure agree that I am and yet, so are the bands that I choose to spend the time writing about. The downside of this year was the clear economics affecting a lot of the shows since many of them would be less than a ¼ full. I’ll not name any particular ones and leave that for your own discovery in the various reviews of shows for the year, but it was clear that either some bands should not have been headliners, or many should have compared notes and done these tours together. Too many shows in sequence and with so little cash to spread around with the mostly young crowds found them picking and choosing a lot more carefully this year. Let’s hope for the best in 2010 because these bands work so hard and deserve a good and supportive crowd at their shows.
Metal Edge & Metal Maniacs Magazines Cease Publication: Two of the giant Metal magazines ended their run very early in 2009 and they will be missed. As a writer and photographer, I was proud to be a part of them both for a time with my creative work and as a Metal fan I will miss the way that they presented things to the fans of the genre. As many might remember, Edge focused on the Melodic and “Core” aspects of the scene while the Maniacs camp catered to all of those ravenous fans of the darker, heavier and more extreme avenues in the realm. The news hit many as a surprise but the IT guy in me agrees that print is slowing edging towards extinction and many of the gurus in my field find amazement that its day has not already come. Yet even that side of me feels there is a place for some print to remain relevant. The bummer for the magazines was that there was no final issue or goodbye like we found on television shows which would have been nice to say goodbye. Eventually a website was launched as the “New Metal Maniacs” but with so many other sites already dominating the scene and delivering this stuff on an almost daily basis I felt that this was a pointless move.
So that’s all folks, the year and the decade are over and we are ready to attack 2010 already with a firm resolve to review a lot of albums and to continue presenting relevant archive as much as possible. Hopefully some of our choices made you agree more than scratch your head. Since this chapter was focused on books and videos and what was a bit of a letdown in 2009, we hope that you can toss in some comments about those items that spoke loudly to you as well. I’ve mapped out a “Best Of Decade” feature as well and that will run in a pair of posts once the bell tolls as 2010. Stay tuned for that and remember that as previously notes we are using each of the powerful Social Networks of Facebook and Twitter to make sure that you are walking alongside of us in a digital sense. Thanks for reading all of these chapters.