Various Artists

Wild Thing: The Sixties DVD Jukebox

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Classic Pictures is a source of serious confusion -- on the one hand, they put out a series of DVD "EPs" of classic rock bands that generally bordered on the crappy; on the other, they put out killer DVD compilations of classic rock bands, like Wild Thing, that are worth every cent they're asking and more. Wild Thing, subtitled "The Sixties DVD Jukebox," is a great little multi-artist DVD release drawn from the same Beat Club and Musikladen material -- both owned by Radio Bremen -- that most of the rest of this library comes from, but it also contains performance clips by various outfits that are otherwise not represented in Classic Pictures' catalog, including the Bonzo Dog Band, the Casuals, the Troggs, the Move, the Easybeats, the Nice, Zager & Evans, and Gerry & the Pacemakers. Additionally, even the acts represented elsewhere on individual releases have had their best clips culled for this compilation, including "Sorry Suzanne" by the Hollies, "Happy Jack" and "So Sad About Us" (done fully live) by the Who, "Plastic Man" by the Kinks, et al. Not everything here is a live performance -- Zager & Evans are lip-syncing to their hit, and the Small Faces' "Itchycoo Park" sounds exactly like the studio version (although, in fairness, their microphone and instruments are plugged in, and their version of "I Can't Make It" is definitely a live cut). And what is live is really, really good -- on the Gerry & the Pacemakers' rendition of "Ferry Cross the Mersey," listeners hear every little flourish on Gerry Marsden's Rickenbacker guitar and all of the microphones are live; the same goes for the Easybeats' rendition of "Friday on My Mind." What's more, the clips have generally been selected for their visual as well as their sonic value -- even when the "live" status is in doubt, there are good close-ups on players and instruments.

The other major acts include Fleetwood Mac ("Man of the World"), Status Quo ("Technicolor Dreams"), Procol Harum ("Homburg"), the Nice ("Hang On to a Dream," running nearly seven minutes), the Moody Blues ("Nights in White Satin"), the Beach Boys ("Surfin' USA"), and Manfred Mann ("Ha! Ha! Said the Clown"). The Who clips are the best material here, raw and live, with Keith Moon wearing out his drum kit and the rest of the band crunching and slashing away behind Roger Daltrey. The Nice clip is fascinating for the way it is set up, as a letterboxed triptych image stretched across the screen, with Keith Emerson the main focus but Lee Jackson getting in there, bowing his electric bass. The sound (which includes optional DTS playback) is great, mastered at a high volume and showing audiophile-level detail. The images, in keeping with the technology of the time, are in black-and-white, but they're mastered cleanly and the detail is good enough to reveal which acts have their leads plugged in (the Hollies, etc.) and which don't (the Troggs). There's also a jukebox function that has appeared on other releases from this company and which, on this one at least, is useful -- one can program up to ten tracks of the 20 in customized order, and there's enough coherence and unity to the group to make the selections worthwhile. One only longs for another volume or two of this type, perhaps with more '60s rock, or maybe devoted to the soul artists who made it to Beat Club.