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Progressive Rock DVD/Video Reviews

Snowy White

Introspective DVD

Review by Bruce Stringer

This release, by Voiceprint, serves as an in depth, documentary-style analysis of legendary British blues guitarist, Snowy White. With frank interview footage, presenter Sam Boyero takes us back to the very beginning of White’s career and guides us through those corridors of history that have defined Mr. White’s impressive playing style, focusing on his days with Peter Green, Thin Lizzy, his solo career, the White Flames Band and, of course, Roger Waters and Pink Floyd. The DVD format includes chapter divisions relating to Snowy White’s musical milestones and open, honest interview footage shot exclusively for this production, accompanied by some rare, live clips and stock release footage from the recent Voiceprint DVD releases of White’s past works.

Kuma Harada, Snowy’s long-time friend and musical associate (probably most notable as White’s bassist throughout his 1980’s solo career), is interviewed and sets up some nice anecdotal and historical references to his work with White and their meeting in 1972. This silver-haired Japanese statesman of production uses both humour and drama to illustrate his workings with the cool Mr. White and shows us that the ego-less can actually exist in the music industry bringing us back to the foundation of what Snowy White is all about: the music.

One famous story goes that, upon arriving in London from the Isle Of Wight in the late 60’s, White managed to get the phone number of Peter Green (then famous of Fleetwood Mac) and decided to call him and have a jam. Realising that the worst that could happen was to have Green tell him to get lost, White was surprised to find that his hero agreed and a friendship developed from that time on. Later, as Mr. Green was feeling less confident with lead playing, due to health problems, he enlisted White to play on his In The Skies album – considered one of Peter Green’s most influential recordings. White’s playing was impeccable and professional, although in the interview he confides that he had some reservations as to whether Green was being taken advantage of by dubious record industry types (as had happened throughout Peter Green’s career). As In the Skies was produced by a fan of Green’s the musical integrity is intact and, as it was handled well, is probably why the album is considered so highly.

During the interview segments White’s down-to-earth, humble nature is amply demonstrated and is one reason why his fans are so devout. Sam Boyero claims that Roger Waters never tours without White and Mr. White, in his truly characteristic humble nature, shrugs at the notion. Maybe it is White’s easy going personality or his clean-living and prompt professionalism that had placed him in positions of responsibility in the music industry, but one thing is certain: Snowy White is a man so far removed from the rock star persona that it might be this quality that attracted him to so many seriously big stars to be their side man. As is testament, White played the Berlin Wall show – one of the highlights being the massive solo during “Comfortably Numb” on top of the wall itself – and he is currently touring the world with Roger Waters (although this DVD refers to this as a “possibility” as it was recorded before that tour was finalised).

In 1977, through Pink Floyd’s manager, White was invited to meet the Floyd as they were searching for a live session player who could fill the role of second guitar, bass, etc. He met the band during the recording of the Animals album and got the gig without playing one note. I won’t spoil it by mentioning White’s comments regarding his work with Pink Floyd, but I will say that any fan of Pink Floyd interested in learning more about Roger Waters and the band from a genuine insider should purchase this DVD. There’s no hype, just the facts of working with David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Rick Wright and Nick Mason.

Mr. White’s current group, The White Flames Band was named after his incredible debut album from 1983, White Flames, which spawned the hit single “Bird Of Paradise,” and – as they are an ongoing concern – are represented here with the video clip “Highway To The Sun.” Regarding video footage, the DVD offers up the live version of “Bird Of Paradise” (from Live From London), “No Stranger To The Blues,” “Little Wing” and “Angel Inside” (from The Way It Is…Live) and excerpts from non-professionally recorded shows in London and Liverpool of The Blues Agency. An exclusive live recording of Snowy White and Kuma performing “I Loved Another Woman” has the two friends in the studio, playing with all the chemistry of long-time musical associates.

This is a fascinating insight into the personality of a great musician and songwriter. The production, while it does contain a few minor audio issues, is generally great and has a cool, informal atmosphere. If there is a complaint it would be that Sam Boyero refers to “Bird Of Paradise” as “Birds Of Paradise” and, of course, White is humble enough not to upstage her by correcting her. That aside, her research is excellent and her approach to the conversational-style interviews allows the viewer to feel that one is actually in the same room hanging around listening to two people chatting about something of cool. This DVD hasn’t left my player in two weeks as there’s just so much to go back to in this 96 minute production.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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