Rolling Stones: Licked Live in NYC (Rolling Stones/Mercury Studios, 2 CDs + Blu-ray or DVD, NR, 217 min.). Just a month after the release of the full “Live at El Mocambo” 2-CD set from 1997 comes this brilliant Rolling Stones concert from Jan. 18, 2003, which originally was an HBO special, and this time we also get video of the complete 135-minute show, which includes a guest vocal appearance by Sheryl Crow on “Honky Tonk Woman.”

The concert has been fully restored and remastered, with four previously unreleased songs included. They are “Start Me Up,” which follows the opening “Street Fighting Man;” a fine “Tumbling Dice;” “Gimme Shelter,” with Mick Jagger and backing singer Linda Fischer trading impassioned vocals; and the always epic “Sympathy For the Devil.” The latter is the first of a hot two-song encore, followed by “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

The Licks 40th anniversary tour was the band’s first in three years and the band seems super-energized, with vocalist Jagger constantly in motion, albeit with less of a stage setup to operate on than usual, as there was only one small, raised area on the Madison Square Garden stage. There was the usual extension into the audience, with a smaller stage at the end of it for the main set’s closing trio of “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It),” “When the Whip Comes Down” and “Brown Sugar.” Jagger seems particularly manic on “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

There is more poignancy in seeing drummer Charlie Watts’ joy on stage since his passing last August. Guitarist Ronnie Wood, then newly sober, appears to be having the time of his life and has a mini-cam on the end of his guitar during “Don’t Stop,” one of the four new songs that graced the 2-disc “Forty Licks” compilation release by the Stones in 2002. “Don’t Stop” quickly became a Stones classic. Here, Jagger plays rhythm guitar on it. Elsewhere, Wood adds some nifty slide guitar on “You Got Me Rocking.”

Guitarist Keith Richards, who has his shirt unbuttoned all night, looks to be having fun too and sings lead on both “Thru and Thru” (one of his best vocals) and “Happy.” The rest of the band includes Darryl Jones on bass and backing vocals, Chuck Leavell on keyboards and backing vocals, Bobby Keys on saxophone (featured on “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”), Fischer and Bernard Fowler on backing vocals, Blondie Chaplin on backing vocals, percussion and acoustic guitar, Tim Reis on saxophone and keyboards, Kent Smith on trumpet and Michael Davis on trombone.

Two numbers are lengthy, with “Midnight Rambler,” which followed “Let It Bleed” from that same album, lasting 12 minutes and fueled by Jagger’s harmonica. Lasting 11 minutes is “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” which has an extended instrumental section that highlights Keys, Wood, and Jagger’s harmonica again.

This release also comes with some fabulous bonus material. There are live performances on stage in Amsterdam of “Star, Star” “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and “Street Fighting Man” (15:24), plus two mostly instrumental numbers, “Well Well” and “Extreme Western Grip,” captured live in a studio rehearsal. There also is a “Tip of the Tongue” documentary (51 min.), which follows the band conceiving and preparing for the tour, which combined three different types of performances — stadiums, arenas and ballrooms or theaters — and the different setlists for each. There is footage from a studio in Paris and their usual rehearsals in Toronto. The extras end with bonus backstage footage (14 min.), including a performance of “All Down the Line” in a Toronto club.

The concert also is available as stand-alone 2CD and 3LP versions. Grade: A+

Megadeth: A Night in Buenos Aires (Cleopatra/MVD Visual, Blu-ray, NR, 95 min.). The city in Argentina is famous for hosting huge concerts and this Oct. 9, 2005, show at the Obras Sanitarias Stadium is no exception, with heavy metal act Megadeth playing before 25,000 packed fans, whose joy and exuberance is notable throughout the film. Frequently, the crowd, which is either bopping up and down en masse or waving arms in the air, sing portions of the songs on their own.

Previously released on DVD and CD in 2007, this is the only Megadeth release to feature bassist James MacDonough. The program opens with cuts of founder/vocalist Dave Mustaine and guitarist Glen Drover performing a few acoustic songs for some fans on the lawn outside of the band’s hotel. During the show, the band rips through such fan-loved tracks as “Symphony of Destruction,” with the crowd singing a large part (an alternate version, with the crowd singing almost pushed out of the mix, is included as a bonus track), “Tornado of Souls” and “Holy Wars … The Punishment Due.”

Other highlights include “Wake Up Dead,” “In My Darkest Hour” and “A Tout Le Monde,” with its softer start and the crowd singing part of the song by themselves. The crowd also sings the beginning of and is really into “Hangar 18.” The crowd enjoys the acoustic “Coming Home,” as the band adds the words “to Argentina.” Visually, the disc is a standout as well. Grade: A

a-ha: The Movie (Lightyear, Blu-ray, NR, 109 min.). While Rolling Stone magazine listed a-ha’s memorable “Take on Me” as the top vote-getter in a poll of one-hit wonders, that label really is not even true in the United States, as the band’s follow-up, “The Sun Always Shines on TV,” briefly cracked the Billboard Top 20 and, later, “Cry Wolf” made it to No. 50. And certainly, the Norwegian trio has had numerous chart-topping singles and albums in Norway, with success in Germany and Great Britain prevalent as well.

The film opens with separate mini-interviews with the three band members, guitarist Pål Waaktaar-Savoy, keyboardist/guitarist Magne Furuholmen and vocalist Morten Harket, as they prepare to perform. The three discuss their thoughts about doing new work together, at which point Furuholmen says they have a tendency to want to bash each other’s heads in after a while of working closely together. This is the first view of the just-below-the-surface tension that exists between the three. It seems Furuholmen still might harbor some resentment over being forced to give up guitar and instead play keyboards, although everyone else says he proved a natural with keyboards.

Portions of the film, especially at the beginning, use the same animated drawing style that was used in the classic video for “Take on Me.” The band’s couple of breakups are covered as well. There also are three deleted scenes (6:26). Grade: B+

The Beatles and India (MVD Visual, Blu-ray, NR, 95 min.). During 1967 and early 1968, The Beatles’ interest in India, fueled by guitarist George Harrison’s appreciation for the music which his mother used to listen to on the radio, peaked worldwide, leading to a stay of up to nearly four months for Harrison and lesser time for the others — Ringo Starr and his wife left after 10 days; Paul McCartney left a month before Lennon. Their visit to the remote Himalayan ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and engagement with transcendental meditation helped make the master a media star, but more importantly resulted in the writing of much of the material for their so-called White Album.

Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney play guitar for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his followers during their 1968 visit to India. Courtesy of MVD Visual


The documentary uses unseen photographs, video footage and interviews uncovered in India during research for the project, including unseen 35mm footage from a film shot at the ashram but never released and an interview with Harrison recorded for All India Radio in 1966 and unheard since then. The archival footage with The Beatles is wonderful — you will see actress Mia Farrow and singer/songwriter Donovan as well — and the film crew visits the sites The Beatles visited in Mumbai, New Delhi, Rishikesh and Dehradun. Several of the new interviews are with the children of those who interacted with The Beatles during their visit or even back in London, when Harrison was looking for a replacement string for his sitar.

Also covered is the friendship and sitar lessons given by Ravi Shankar to Harrison. Portions of their appearance on The Dick Cavett Show are included.

Bonus features include an interview with Ajo Bose (21:17); a tour of the ashram, then and now (5:58; it had to be reclaimed from the jungle after being abandoned in 1981); and a production photo gallery (3:18). Grade: A-

Tom Von Malder of Owls Head has reviewed music since 1972, just after graduation from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has reviewed videos/DVDs since 1988.

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