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BLAIR’S DVD WATCH: Three for the Holidays: Petty, Stax and Mahavishnu

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream (Warner Bros.)

This has got to be the DVD bargain of the year. For just a little more than you’d pay for a single CD, you get an incredibly interesting and great-sounding documentary covering the entire history of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers—by Oscar-nominated director Peter Bogdanovich—a full 2006 concert by the band, and an audio CD of rarities. Chances are, every true fan of the band has already bought this DVD and devoured it eagerly. So I’m here to appeal to casual fans of the group to take the plunge and spring for it. It’s definitely one of the better rock docs and concerts out there. MORE

Stax/Volt Revue: Live in Norway 1967 (Reelin’ in the Years

From the same folks who brought you the Jazz Icons series comes another fine example of European TV documenting American music better than anyone did in this country. This time it’s the Stax/Volt revue in Oslo, Norway, of all places, and it’s another good one. The black and white program shares the exceptional visuals of the jazz DVDs, though the sound is a little more hit or miss—perhaps because it’s mostly electric instruments, so the mix was trickier for the Norwegian engineers. There are definitely sporadic level and balance issues, but mostly it sounds quite good. MORE

Mahavishnu Orchestra: Live at Montreux 1984/74 (Eagle Vision)

n their own way, Mahavishnu Orchestra was to jazz-rock fusion excess what Queen was to rock excess. They were unquestionably great at what they did, but beyond that it’s all a matter of personal taste. In this case, I was a huge fan of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra featuring leader/guitarist John McLaughlin, violinist Jerry Goodman, keyboardist Jan Hammer, bassist Rick Laird and the great Billy Cobham on drums. MORE