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Published: 2006/12/23
by Randy Ray

Jamband Cinema The Year in DVD Review

_Hes a wonderful guy, but his instincts are to flatten everything, be well liked. _ – Julia Phillips, Youll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again
_I dont know. Im making it up as I go along. _ – Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark
Contrary to my remarks in my opening DVD editorial salvo in November, there will not be a writers roundtable of Best of 2006 lists. Instead, Ill save that discussion amongst peers for later in 2007 and in a different format. This month, Ill offer my own thoughts for the year in review and leave the onslaught of old and new writers for next month.
Initially, my overview of the DVD releases for 2006 is not good. Too many bandsfrom heady upstarts to jamband giantsuse the format as an opportunity to release a live show without much concern for art, longevity or anything else but a handy home movie to show folks what theyve been missing. Have a little fun with the film; throw in some animation, nutty backstage and bus footage; if in doubt, check out Umphrey McGees excellent Wrapped Around Chicago DVD from 2005 as it represents an excellent example of how to extrapolate beyond the stage for fun and insight. Having said that, because of the ubiquity of the format, there were a few that used their allotted cinematic time wisely in 2006. Here is a brief sampling for your viewing pleasure based upon their eccentric albeit proper usage of film i.e. ITS SUPPOSED TO BE ART, STUPID!
FIVE 2006 Music DVDs to Seek Out (in random order)
Tea Leaf Green Rock n Roll Band the pure artlessness of their appearance and onstage persona serves to enhance the on-and-off stage material, portraying a band that understands the subtle necessity of a quality studio album and a kick ass live show.
Phish Live in Brooklyn one of the few exceptions to the rule: some bands CAN just film their gig and get away with itthe opening tune, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing is reason enough to ask for a reunion. Plus, Trey teases Fluffhead in an easter egg.
Coachella there isnt a shred of jam implicit in this festival but damned if they dont get it right on film by portraying an event that is both improvisatory and mindbending. The kids dig it, too which used to be important in the sway of musics immortal pendulum.
The JamCam Chronicles every release has been superb. SUPPORT these cats.
Traffic The Last Great Traffic Jam a veritable hodgepodge of latter period material is edited in a wonderfully schizophrenic motif that enhances the 60s vibe that was so important to their timeless presentation. Captain Trips also makes a low-key appearance.
_- Randy Ray stores his work at www.rmrcompany.blogspot.com. _

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