Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
I wanted to like it...
Gregory Sandoval | Mountain View, CA United States | 11/17/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this DVD being an avid fan of the music. As anyone who's seen the DVD from the "Out of the Blue" tour, or perhaps live back in the day, you know that ELO had a great stage spectacle in terms of sets and orchestral players, but as a band they pretty much just stood around and played - especially Jeff Lynne. That's OK, it's all about the music in my opinion.So now with this DVD, we get a glimpse into the band's post-Jeff Lynne era and we see that they are better live, much more animated and have seemed to benefit from the infusion of some energy thanks to several new band members. I will also say that the filming/production seem to be well done as well. Unfortunately, if you're hoping for anything but increased physical access to the band (lots of back stage glimpses), you will be disappointed with the documentary itself. The content of the interviews is lacking - there's no real insight into the dynamics of the original ELO and the making of their classic material. There is mostly just a reading of the roster of who joined the band when, etc. and an interestig anecdote of Bev Bevan buying his first drumkit. You don't really learn anything new about the band and you're left with the distinct impression that everything you're not being told would be much more entertaining that what you're listening to.But what about the music? The first few selections on the DVD include some great old ELO numbers and, with the higher energy level and the full orchestra, there is hope that the musical magic will be present. But, alas, the entire second half of the DVD is dominated by songs from the new album which are, unfortunately, absolute trash. As a musician, it's easy to spot that the craft is missing from the new material and that they really don't have anything left to say. Even Phil Bates comments that a writer of Lynne's caliber will be missed from any group, and that's glaringly true here. "Whiskey Girls", "Don't Wanna", "Ain't Necessarily So", these songs are completely uninspired, and at their best are pale imitations of the most simplistic ELO songs. It wouldn't be so bad if, as I said, the second half of the DVD is really dominated by this material.Close it all with the embarrassing spectacle of show girls "dancing" on stage during "Don't Bring Me Down" and a video of one of the new songs, and what began as a potentially entertaining documentary of a more rocking ELO has deteriorated into a sad commentary on an aging cover band imitating music they didn't write and whose own originals [stink]. I felt sad seeing a band responsible for such great music back in the day reduced to just another bunch of dinosaurs. It speaks volumes that they gave up this project not too long after the making of this DVD.Do yourself a favor and get the Zoom DVD instead. Sure you have to put up with some of Jeff Lynne's new tunes and he pretty much still just stands around, but overall the musicianship, craftmanship and feel of that show are much better. And it has twice as much music on it. Or pick up the "Out of the Blue" tour DVD and see the band at their peak of popularity plus some really fun/cheesy videos to boot. Access All Areas will just make you feel sad."
Producer/Director chimes in with his three stars worth.
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First off, nothing is more frustrating than review pages, seems what most people end up doing is throwing a good two cents worth in before they take a deep breath and try seeing things for what they are rather than what they are not. That said , here's my take on it. As the producer/director of Access All Areas I felt it was really down to me to revist the video as to cast a "truly" critical eye on the project and to put a few things to rest once and for all. Make no mistake, Access All Areas is not a video about Jeff Lynne, however, nothing would have thrilled me more if Jeff had indeed popped up in the middle of the production to give his view on things but that was not to be and may never be. Jeff left ELO behind well over a decade ago and has gone on to become not only an exceptional and highly respected producer (Beatles, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison) but an artist who's song writing is frequently brilliant. You can't be an Electric Light Orchestra fan without recognising Jeff's craft, without him the band would simply not exist as we know it today. But there in also lies the rub... If you still have an Out of the Blue poster hanging on the bedroom wall (not that there's anything wrong with that) frankly this video may be a disappointment. Ultimately Access All Areas is about the Electric Light Orchestra "Part 2" and it's current line up, Bev Bevan, Mik Kaminski, Kelly Groucutt, Louis Clark, Eric Troyer and Phil Bates. It does take a look back through the years at ELO's evolution from the Move forward but it is truly about where the band is today. To call it "an amateurish attempt at telling ELO's story" (as someone who remains nameless on this review page put it) is a perfect example of possibly not being able to see the forest for the trees. In reality this is a concert video wrapped around the bands attempt to put the past "finally" to rest. Yes it contains ELO Part 2 performing some of Jeff's biggest hits as well as a few of their own and dozens of photo's primarily from Bev's book The ELO Story, that believe it or not alot of people have not seen. But if you're waiting for a look at all those ELO videos from days gone by, you wont find them here as I didn't relish the thought of being knee deep in lawyers well into the next century. What you do get is a candid, fly on the wall look behind the scenes at a band doing their best in the midst of a very difficult situation, they love to play, they love playing the songs Jeff wrote but hope that if you're willing to give ELO Part 2 one honest look that one should try (if just for an hour) checking the past at the door. Looking back there are always things I would change, a little bit here, or little bit there and lets face it anything can always be better but you know at the time it was never left as is if there was something we could do about it. And as it turned out I really feel it works and most importantly so does the band. There's alot of new material here well worth checking out and you'll get a look at a group of guys willing to strip away it's glossy (sometimes over-produced past) to expose themselves a bit, have a pint and a laugh or two. Anyone who knows anything about ELO should find it very refreshing indeed. So check it out, they're a great bunch of guys and one great band and doesn't it ultimately come down to the music anyway?"
Access All Areas by ELO Part II
john kilcline | england uk | 03/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let me say straight away, this is not just a film of an ELO Part II concert! George Reed's approach to this film is as a "rockumentary", with clever (almost subliminal) black and white shots cutting in and out of the dialogue at an amazing pace.During the opening titles we are given teasing glimpses of the band rehearsing, then suddenly without warning, they are on stage in Sydney with the Australian Rock Orchestra. Led by "Sir" Lou Clark fully resplendent in white tuxedo they perform "Concerto for a Rainy Day" and then "Standing in the Rain"This really illustrates the power and impact of ELO Part II as a live group, and right from the opening chords of the first number the sheer energy has to be seen to be believed.Now we cut to Bev talking about the early days in the Diplomats, again interspersed with black and white shots. Bev talks about his first £35 drum set: at first he couldn't get the bass drum pedal to work, cut to a quick shot of a foot kicking a pedal (now do you get my drift?).As we build a picture of The Move being formed and Jeff joining, we are treated to archive pictures from those early days (many from Bev's own collection) and at this point we get "10538 Overture".Many of you will have read the ELO story, but to hear it told by the members of the band is fascinating. Mik is now invited to join the group and in his words we are told of the audition whilst the pictures show the actual advert placed in the music press, asking for a violinist.Next up is "Showdown", back onstage in Sydney, this has to be one of the best production numbers in the show.As Bev talks us through Louis Clark being asked to join and through the making of the concept album "Eldorado", we are treated to the sight of "Sir" Lou in full flight, conducting the Australian Rock Orchestra playing the haunting "Eldorado Overture"."Turn to Stone" and "Do Ya" are next - these numbers really do get better and a full Orchestra gives them that extra depth. At this point Bev takes up the narration again and tells how, since the break up of the band, he misses touring and so decides to reform the band. Jeff is invited to join, but declines! So, on recommendation from Jim Steinman, Eric Troyer appears on the scene and auditions with his own song "Thousand Eyes". This is enough to convince Bev that Eric is the man for the job!Kelly now takes over the story and tells how he meets up again with Phil Bates and persuades Bev to take him on, as Kelly says "he was taken on to replace 2 people, and he does!"So now, with a line up that includes three singers, ELO Part II have found their secret weapon harmony,. To prove the point, we are treated to "Rockaria".A short clip of "Whiskey Girls" followed by a full version of "Don't Wanna" takes us neatly into a section which can be described in one word...camaraderie With band members and road crew seen travelling and working together, it really does come across that these guys enjoy each others company, (a lot of other groups could really learn from this film!). A lot of visual jokes here, regular fans will appreciate this section."Barru", ELO Part II's guitar technician, could find himself being approached by a horror film company after his cameo performance! All too soon, as in the stage show, we are at the closing number "Don't Bring Me Down". On this occasion, the addition of 2 go-go dancers on stage clearly seems to be embarrassing some of the guys -I'll leave it to you to decide who!All in all a brilliant video - not just for Part II fans - there really is something for everyone in here.A tip: remember to keep the video running after the credits have finished - there is a bonus of the `promo' video for "All Fall Down"In summary, forget all the " without Jeff Lynne, it's not ELO" talk - watch the video - I guarantee you will want to go and see ELO Part II performing live!Running time: approx.58 minutesReviewer: John Kilcline"
E. Uthman | Houston, TX USA | 10/08/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a fan of ELO since the mid 70s and have seen them in concert (the "Spaceship" tour). Accordingly, I was eager to see how their work would translate to video. The result is not all positive, but first off I will say that this is the best video of ELO's live performances available. The sound mix is excellent by 70's concert movie standards (e.g, YESSONGS, YES LIVE IN PHILADELPHIA 1979) but woefully inadequate in comparison with other recent concert DVDs (e.g., HOUSE OF YES, WOODSTOCK '99). The bass is totally lost, the drums muddy, and the orchestra (Moscow Symphony) often inaudible. The vocal harmonies do sound great, but the fact that ELO has used taped choruses in previous concerts lends some uncertainty as to whether all the vocalists are both live and on-stage. The soprano soloist on "Rockaria" was heard but not seen. If she was on tape, shame on the band for the cop-out, and if she was onstage, shame on the director for not showing her.This brings up another deficiency: direction. There are almost no shots that showcase the band's musicianship. Devoted fans of ELO, like those of other 70s art-rock bands, are often musicians themselves, and they are bound to be disappointed by the artistic choices of a director who seems to have no interest in musical performance itself. Considering this, and the fact that there are so few songs in the performance, the film fails as a concert tape.But it's still a documentary, right? Well, it has problems there, too. I enjoyed the interviews with Kelly Groucutt and Mik Kaminsky, but no interviews with Jeff Lynne? Or Richard Tandy? That's like doing a documentary on The Beatles and not interviewing Paul and George. You will learn a few things, though, the most surprising to me being that Phil Bates, Lynne's replacement, was in Trickster, the little-known but excellent band that opened for ELO in the Spaceship days. However, the complete lack of anything controversial in the interviews leads one to believe that this "documentary" was commissioned by the band itself (see the nauseating BEACHBOYS: AN AMERICAN BAND for an example of paid-for, pre-packaged journalism).Bottom line: Yes, buy the DVD, but only because ELO fans have nothing better--yet. Just keep praying that someday, someone will give us an excellent ELO concert video that gives us the great music without the gratuitous spin."