This week's DVD, CD reviews

DARRYL STERDAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:51 PM ET

The concert calendar isn't exactly packed these days. But you can still get your live music fix on DVD. And you don't have to empty your piggy bank to do it. This week on the rock box:

Metallica | Slayer | Megadeth | Anthrax
The Big 4 Live from Sofia, Bulgaria

Metal festivals (and DVDs) don't come much heavier than this: A quadruple-bill by the architects of American thrash. This double-disc package features fiery hour-long sets from evil behemoths Slayer, speed demons Megadeth and doofus savants Anthrax, along with two hours of power from the mighty Metallica and 45 minutes of backstage footage. A treat for headbangers of all ages.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Crossroads: Eric Clapton Guitar Festival 2010
Various Artists

If four hours of guitar solos and all-star jams are your idea of heaven, the third instalment in Eric Clapton's Guitar Festival series is right up your fretboard. Exactly like its predecessors, the two-DVD set has plenty of Slowhand, along with a massive roster of VIP guests -- everyone from Sheryl Crow and Keb' Mo' to B.B. King and ZZ Top, plus clown prince Bill Murray as MC. Not bad.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Beyonce
I Am ... World Tour

Too much is never enough for Beyonce. If you've seen the dynamic diva's first three live DVDs, you know what you're in for from her latest tour-doc and concert film: More than two hours of powerhouse vocal performances and high-energy choreography, accompanied by endless costume changes, eye-popping production and general fabulousness. You'll get tired just watching it.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Sting
Live in Berlin

Sting's 2010 CD Symphonicities seemed to be missing something. Turns out it was video. The banal concept -- reworking his Police classics and solo hits with an orchestra -- works far better in concert than in the studio, thanks to Sting's engaging onstage persona and some lively antics from the symphony. The two-hour show includes plenty of cuts that weren't on the studio album.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Regina Spektor
Live in London

Sometimes, the backstory overshadows the main event. Russian-American singer-songwriter Spektor's first live DVD is one of those times. On one hand, it's a charming, intimate and typically quirky 70-minute gig by Spektor, a drummer and a string quartet. But it also serves as a moving memorial for cellist and bandleader Daniel Cho, who drowned a few months after the filming.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Doc Walker
Dock Party Live in Kelowna

OK, it's kind of a corny concept: Doc Walker performing at a (get it?) dock party. But it also makes sense: The Juno-winning outfit's easy-breezy country-pop and laid-back approach fit perfectly with the outdoor setting and casual vibe of this 45-minute CMT gig, which is augmented by 20 minutes of extra footage and a doc. One quibble: The guitarist in shorts might be a tad too casual.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

DOWN/STREAM

Gorillaz
The Fall

Wondering how to use that iPad you got for Christmas? You could make like Damon Albarn and record an album on it -- the Gorillaz king cut these 15 tracks on the gizmo during downtime on tour last fall, which explains why: 1) Most of the tunes are named after cities; 2) Many are electronic headnodders and knobtwiddlers; 3) You can stream the album for free on the band's website: thefall.gorillaz.com

Klaxons
Landmarks of Lunacy EP

Damon Albarn wasn't the only one giving out Christmas gifts this year: These British post-punks also got into the holiday spirit with this free download of a five-track EP. OK, it's not exactly new: These somewhat subdued, spacious and psychedelic offerings were recorded with producer James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco back in 2008. But really, what do you want for nothing?

www.klaxons.net

Yeasayer
Live at Ancienne Belgique

Not to be outdone by the Brits, these critically acclaimed American indie-pop psychedelicists are also feeling generous enough to offer up this well-produced 70-minute live set taped last fall in Belgium. It isn't exactly free -- they have made it available as a pay-what-you-want download a la Radiohead's In Rainbows. But no matter what you decide to shell out, you can't beat the price.

yeasayer.net/xmas

CDs

The Doors
Live in Vancouver 1970

The Doors were never really a blues band. But they did a fair impression of one on this night. Bootlegged for ages but finally seeing official release, the two-hour set is notable mostly for a three-song cameo by blazing blues guitarist Albert King. The rest is Doors 101: Lazy jams, epic versions of The End and Light My Fire and, of course, Jimbo's blathering and bellowing. For fans only.

Download: Little Red Rooster; Money

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Michael Monroe
Another Night in the Sun: Live in Helsinki

Get out the hairspray and leopard skin; Hanoi Rocks frontman Monroe is making the world safe for glam once again. Backed by Hanoi bassist Sam Yaffa, Wildhearts guitarist Ginger and New York Dolls axeman Steve Conte, the Finnish flash blasts through an hour of HR classics, solo hits and covers of Johnny Thunders, The Damned, Dead Boys and more. Not bad for an old punk.

Download: You're Next; Motorheaded for a Fall

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Dio
At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987

And so it begins. Ronnie James Dio's first major posthumous release is this two-CD live set from British Monsters of Rock fests in the '80s. On the plus side: Solid performances and set lists that augment Dio's fantasy metal with Rainbow and Sabbath fare. On the flip side: Repeated numbers, so-so sound, few tunes that haven't already appeared on other live releases and no video.

Download: Neon Knights; Man on the Silver Mountain

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Tom Tom Club
Genius of Live

So much for Once in a Lifetime. This offering from married rockers Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth -- aka Talking Heads' rhythm section -- is a truncated reissue of their 2001 release Live @ the Clubhouse. Their wedding of Afro-Cuban funk and old-school hip-hop holds up well, but cutting nearly half the show for a second CD of repetitive remixes doesn't seem like a work of genius.

Download: Wordy Rappinghood; Genius of Love

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

Motorhead
The World is Yours

"All things come to he who waits," grumbles Lemmy on Motorhead's 20th disc, "but these days most things suck." Thankfully, he ain't one of them. At 65, Lemmy remains the true iron man of metal, clanging away on his Rickenbacker bass, growling about the hypocrisy and stupidity of man, and leading his hard-charging band into the fray once more. So what are you waiting for?

Download: I Know How to Die; Get Back in Line

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Cake
Showroom of Compassion

When John McCrae says "it's been a long time since we tripped into this ditch," he means it. The Cali oddballs haven't put out an album since 2004. Time has not dulled their way with a buzzy guitar twang and a funky backbeat -- nor, thankfully, has it affected McCrae's dry Robyn Hitchcock vocals and wit. Though it does seem to have given them a taste for Beatlesque psychedelia.

Download: Sick of You; Mustache Man (Wasted)

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Kataklysm
Heaven's Venom

Like Rocky, these Quebec thrashers never throw in the towel. So it's fitting they open their 10th album with a sampled Rocky movie quote. And it's only right that they come out swinging once again with their usual brutal combo of time-shifting hyperblast, anthemic melody and guttural rasps -- plus some fancy footwork from their drummer. Best of all: They don't do Eye of the Tiger.

Download: Faith Made of Shrapnel; As the Walls Collapse

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

DVDs

Feist
Look at What the Light Did Now

Many artists want the spotlight all to themselves. Leslie Feist prefers to share. Instead of the usual concert vid, tour doc or just-the-facts bio, this stylish 80-minute film focuses on the Canadian singer-songwriter's collaborative process, with producers, directors, puppeteers and fellow players getting as much screen time as she does. More intriguing than informative, but still watchable.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Punk: Attitude
Various Artists

Punk isn't about leather and power chords, posits filmmaker Don Letts. It's about rebellion. And that existed long before the '70s. Letts' reissued 2005 doc examines punk's big bang -- the fuse lit by Elvis, Iggy and the VU; the explosive force of the Pistols and Ramones; the various mutations from Sonic Youth to Limp Bizkit -- via mucho archival footage and new interviews. Worthy.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)


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