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Non-Prog DVD/Video Reviews

Triumph

Live At The Us Festival DVD

Review by Bob Cooper

With the advent of DVD, bands are scrambling to the vaults in hopes of unearthing vintage shows, sometimes taken from home movies and even fan-submitted films and tapes, as the technology is now here that enables some interesting presentations. However many of these "DVD's" fall flat on their faces. Not to besmirch the bands' good names, by any means.


Case in point: The YES DVD called Live In Philadelphia came out a year or so ago, all decked out in Roger Dean artwork and hailed as one of their best performances ever. Yet a viewing reveals washed out footage of the live show, with a soundtrack that was muddled, choppy, and at times just dropped out. I recognized the soundtrack immediately as being the exact same one that came on a bootleg album I had purchased years previously. It turns out that the record company took it upon themselves to throw this thing together in an attempt to cash in on this great band, and who footed the bill? Why, it was us suckers who had to own everything that our favorite band had available.

Then we have the other end of the scale. Triumph seems to have not only filmed many of their shows and took great care to preserve both the audio and video, but cared enough to go back and work modern magic on them to bring us what we have here: A lasting memory of a great time in music, presented in the highest quality that is available.

The famed US Festivals were monumental events put on by the same guy that invented the Apple computer that featured the great headliner acts of the day like Scorpions, Van Halen, Motley Crue, and Ozzy Ozborne. In fact, it is said that this is where Ozzy (or Sharon) first got the idea for Ozzfest. Included in the lineup was Triumph, who were breaking records worldwide with their shows. But unlike the other bands, Triumph made certain to keep track of the original film prints, which made it possible to make this outstanding DVD.

This show is the 1983 US Festival that happened at Glen Helen Park, located 50 miles southeast of LA, and the first thing you will notice is the crowd- a veritable sea of bodies that stretched from one end of the horizon to the opposite end. But that vision soon dissipates as Triumph tears into a list of their best material, including "Allied Forces", "Lay It On The Line", "Never Surrender", "Magic Power", "A World Of Fantasy", "Rock & Roll Machine", "When The Lights Go Down", and "Fight The Good Fight". Here we have Triumph in their prime, and pouring out their best for an audience who seemed to be there just for them. Shows like these are what rock memories are made of, and to see a band care enough to make them available to us is really one step beyond what is expected, especially given the time this stuff has been sitting in the vaults.

It would be prudent to mention the bonus features on this disc as well. First we have an interview segment called "Behind The Rock and Roll Machine", which is an hours worth of backstage banter coupled with features on each band member, as well as the crew. See Rik Emmett take you to his home studio and show you his guitars, explain his songwriting process, and even let you peek at his notepad that he always had with him on the road, containing song ideas and such. See the bands official pyrotechnician show you some of the explosives used in the normal Triumph show, and even do some "tester" explosions. Then we have a 2003 interview piece with Gil and Mike who reflect back to that show 20 years ago, and it is obvious that even after that length of time it made an impression on even them! Also included are the made-for-MTV videos for "Spellbound" and "Follow Your Heart".

So if you happen to be a fan of Triumph, or were at the US Festival, or just plain want to see what all of the excitement is about with this Canadian prog/rock band, then you owe it to yourselves to check this one out.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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